It is universally agreed – apart from here at The Register, where some disgraceful articles quoting what GDS staff say in their own words insinuate otherwise – that GDS has had a profoundly positive impact on the government.
How? In the words of Bryan Glick: “Bracken’s biggest achievement was in changing the conversation about technology in Whitehall.” And Bracken did this, starting from scratch, in only four years.
You may think “changing the conversation” is something that can be done in minutes, or even seconds. Perhaps by clearing your throat and saying, “Excuse me, but I’d like to move on to the next subject”. But that isn’t how Whitehall works. It isn’t how a radical agile transformation specialist should work, either.
Just look at how GDS recreated Isotype for the post-ironic digital era. Just look at the painstaking attention to detail, worthy of Steve Jobs:
OK, so it failed. But so what? In Silicon Valley you “fail fast and fail often”. Whitehall was already full of expensive IT failures.
GDS revved this up to internet speed, and added mascots. Thanks to MLF, IT failure has taken off its tie, swapped its Thinkpad for a retina Macbook, and put stickers on it. Failure is cool again.
Here’s the GDS philosophy in Mike’s own words. As we mourn his passing let’s savour every one of them.