Come All Ye Faithful.
Chief Digital Officer of the Co-Operative Group, Mike Bracken, has announced that his former top team at the Government Digital Service will be following him to take up a number of digital transformation posts at the organisation.
Bracken announced that he would be stepping down from his director job at the Government Digital Service back in August, sending shock waves through central government and the broader digital community.
A number of senior people at GDS close to Bracken quickly announced that they would be also stepping down, which caused a bit of a stir about the level of stability in the digital agenda in Whitehall.
And it seems that the decision may have been more coordinated than previously thought, as Bracken has just revealed, on a newly launched Co-Operative Group digital blog, that a lot of his former colleagues will be joining him to help transform the organisation. Bracken said:
Wherever I have gone I have always looked to help support and develop existing teams – and add new skills to the mix. To that end let me introduce some people:
Russell Davies is joining us today as Digital Strategy Director, Tom Loosemore is our new Digital Services Director and Ben Terrett has joined as Group Design Director, and Mat Wall is working with the team to review our digital and data architecture.
Together, Ben, Tom, Russell, Mat and I founded the Government Digital Service. With our colleagues there, and across government, we delivered GOV.UK, saved billions for the taxpayer, won the Design of the Year Award and – most importantly – delivered substantially improved services for millions of people.
We’re used to working as a team so we hope it won’t take us long to get up and going.
Bracken said that he is “delighted” that he has persuaded the group to join him at the Co-Op, but added that it “won’t be the last brilliant digital people” he will bring in. He said that the organisation will soon be advertising for potential candidates to join the growing digital outlet.
The news perhaps isn’t particularly surprising, given that the team worked very closely together at GDS and were some of the leading forces in what transformation has been achieved across Whitehall. Given the difficulties facing the Co-Operative group, it makes sense for Bracken to pull in capabilities that have experience in, and that he knows can, deliver outcomes in a challenging environment.
The public sector’s loss is the private sector’s gain it seems.
Bracken also took the opportunity to highlight some of his efforts so far at the Co-Op and said that the group’s aim is to be “open, agile and have a relentless focus on members – existing ones and new ones”.
We are here to make the Co-operative a world-leading digital player as we continue our rebuild phase. Our ambition is bold: to re-create the Co-operative for a digital era, and demonstrate a different way of doing business for an increasingly connected community.
To achieve this, we will need to build on our position of trust with our members, create teamwork around a commitment to digital excellence, and continue to develop and attract the best digital skills.
The internet was made for co-operation and that starts with how we communicate with our millions of existing members. That starts with small steps like communicating online and saving over £500,000 in sending letters out twice a year.
In my brief time in Manchester I have been hugely impressed by the teams in place and thework already underway: Helen Carroll and her team on brand and marketing, Dave Johnson who is leading the technology delivery for the Meaningful Membership scheme along with architects like Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, and Paul Morris and the digital and social teams.
Congratulations to Ben, Tom, Russell and Matt. And good work on Bracken’s part - this is a team with very interesting ideas about organisation transformation, service redesign and service delivery using internet architectures. We will be keeping a close eye on the Co-Op’s progress.