Conversation starter: Richard Askew, Askew Brook
Richard builds software for organisations. Despite coming up with simple, affordable solutions for problems within these organisations, he finds that they are often reluctant to take a risk with a smaller company, or on a slightly different way of doing things.
As an example, why you would invest £200k on a single solution, when you could diversify and try a few options to see what would work best? Organisations want to buy off the shelf from the same few large companies. It’s not always cost effective, nor is it innovative. At worst, the solution may not be fit for purpose.
The group discussed how a hospital might see a software solution working well enough elsewhere, and just buy it – it’s not worth the risk of it not working at all.
The group discussed the advantages of spending your money with local businesses, both saving money and supporting the local economy.
There is a real need for investment in the local digital sector, yet large public authorities are still spending their digital budget elsewhere.
Do we know who is making these decisions? We decided we didn’t, and that it would be great to have one of those decision makers at an event like this to demystify the process. Possibly they are working too hard to have the vision to change things and take a risk. Perhaps there just isn’t the time to take a step back.
Risk is scary for other reasons too, it opens you up to being taken advantage of by external companies. Trust is a huge factor when it comes to choosing who to work with.
The conversation moved to telling truth to power, valuing your workforce and listening properly.
People who can see where changes should be made are not usually the people who make the decisions. Large organisations have hierarchies, and perceived hierarchies, and these things are very real barriers. The people at the bottom have no way of communicating with the people at the top, and sometimes vice versa. How do the people at the top know what’s going on at a grassroots level?
Formal consultations never work because the outcome is often preconceived – a tick box exercise. Or people are too jaded to take part. Crowdsourced solutions are better than consultations, because you’re more likely to get buy-in. That leads to truth, and truth leads to innovation.
As an employee, you take part in a consultation or staff survey and you never hear back, so you don’t engage next time. Lack of communication from top down. Communication is one of the biggest issues, not having feedback or updates. There are fears around anonymity – how honest you can you really be?