Last week alongside our fellow The Panoply companies Futuregov, Manifesto and Human+ we were privileged enough to host the ‘Exchange’ track at Disruption Summit. I’ve written before about the genesis of the track and elsewhere have expanded on that hypothesis but the day itself was beyond my expectations.

First off a word of congratulations to the D/SRUPTION team – conferences of this scale with multiple tracks and demanding delegates (and sponsors) are no easy undertaking and they managed to deliver a beautifully designed and cleverly curated event. Well done everybody involved.

Secondly a MASSIVE thank you to all our speakers.

Emma, Amanda, Merici, Sam, Jeni, Vimla, Bob, Bryony, Kay, Rich, Jody, Sam and Nick. Oh and Dom and Jim I suppose! Legends each and every one.

Every talk and panel was spot on – whether making the case for putting citizens at the centre of designing new services – even in difficult circumstances (and demonstrating the power of radical optimism), the need to acknowledge the challenges of getting the data infrastructure fixed to allow those user-centric services to really succeed, the challenge of reassuring your staff as you bring in bots to automate parts of their roles and why calling them Barbara scares people less or the fact that the ONS needs you all to be more like Hannah when the Census kicks off in 2021 (or next year if you are in one of the ‘rehearsal’ locations).

Not to mention if you are going to ‘fix a broken housing market’ then entrusting to someone like Nick who embraces change, has an appetite for risk and pulls absolutely zero punches seems like a strong start.

Admittedly the chairing of the track left a little to be desired but hopefully everybody who attended enjoyed it and left a little more convinced that there really is great, transformational work happening across public service – whether that is central or local government, charities or education. Public interest minded designers and technologists are tackling the hard problems wherever they find them.


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