Blackhall is the new Whitehall – rapid development of government policy.

Whitehall by Rick Lewis on Flickr - click to see original
Whitehall by Rick Lewis on Flickr - click to see original

Will Perrin has a knack of helping people understand how the web is changing government. Today he publishes what was until now a private paper on how Whitehall can be transformed.

In Transforming the way we work – from Whitehall to Blackhall he writes about an alternative Whitehall, one that embraces how the web can accelerate change:

The leaders of Blackhall have changed a predominantly ‘need to know’ culture to one underpinned by a ‘need to share’.  They have begun to change the business model from a paper process base to a knowledge based model.   There is far more permeability in Blackhall between government Departments, the wider public sector, the third sector, stakeholders, citizens and business. Policy formation in Blackhall takes weeks or months, rather than months or years, involving more people to create better outcomes with less effort. Officials share knowledge with others across government and with those outside government such as the third sector, font line workers and managers. This is enabled by a pervasive Blackhall electronic working environment. Officials publish information from their screens that can be read by anyone connected to the GSI and selected people outside it, without using email.  The majority of work in Blackhall is published internally so that colleagues can find it using search in the same way they google for information on the internet. A Blackhall working environment would be electronic, pervasive, accessible from wherever you are in the UK and in many cases overseas.  Implicit in this is a standard ability to work on the move with any laptop, blackberry or internet connection.

He continues with what needs to change.

The difference between Whitehall and Blackhall is a managerial determination to make it happen. It might sound difficult to get a multi-hundred year old monopoly to change.  But the civil servants themselves are changing outside the workplace as they use Easyjet, Gmail, Facebook and instant messaging in their private lives.  When they get to work they slip back into an earlier era because the tools aren’t there.

These are his slides from the presentation he gave of these ideas a year ago.

They include compelling illustrations of how little Whitehall has changed communication conventions, regardless of changes in technology. How much is this like the place where you work?  How easy will it be to change from Whitehall to Blackhall.

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