Being part of a group of people who are there to support you day in and day out I think is really important, as human beings we need something to lean against whether that’s in a time of need or indeed in times where we simply want to enjoy sharing our experiences. The definition of team in 2024 continues to change; its makeup, geography skill set and even how it is activated.

DWP being part of the BCS allows us to have 70,000 friends in 150 different countries that we can lean against. Nearly 500 of DWP digital have become members and a good proportion of those people have started down their accreditation route or have looked at becoming part of a special interest group relevant to their current working area or indeed an area that interests them for the future.

In 2024 I believe that our membership of BCS and indeed other groups such as the Women in Data group and our own internal supportive groups and functions is what will facilitate the most connectivity for everyone of our colleagues. This in turn creates the support network we need every week and every day to do your job, to celebrate what we achieve or simply to get some help for that gnarly thing you are trying to get over the line.

The four pillars of BCS can be used, I think, to describe how I want us to show up with each other in 2024:

Membership: We are part of a special group that are here to make a difference. We are change agents with knowledge that all of our organisation needs to be able to access so it can become the organisation it strives to be. We are no longer ‘just’ a moving part we are the fabric of the future and being members of a supportive group of likeminded people will help us as this change lands home. Being part of a group will be important to both offer us some assistance as well as some mental protection when the going gets a bit tough, leaning on someone is the best way to get help, whatever that help may be.

Inspiration: Groups inspire a diversity of thought! Individuals are creative, groups can support creativity and help influence the engagement of others. We don’t want to be just the followers of fashion in some cases we want to be the inspiration that leads the way to change. I believe the way to do this is by being an inspiration for the change and then creating the right environment for others to follow. We can and should use BCS and other groups like BCS as the route to access external support, a place where we can build on inspiration and a way to get reviews of what we want to put in front of people to inspire them.

Progression: Our own progression means many different things to all of us. The core though has to be our own development. As an organisation we have put a great deal of effort in to making sure that we open up as many opportunities as we possibly can to facilitate continuous development. Being part of a group helps us access those opportunities, whether it’s the moment when a colleague makes a recommendation or the formal ask for coaching or mentorship or simply by being a good alley to a colleague when they need it most, being part of the Digital Group or part of BCS or indeed being an active member of your own team is a key to our collective progression. The easiest way to learn though I believe is as part of a group, hearing how others achieved or simply from experiences will continue to be a great way of ‘simply’ understanding more.

Influence: The influence we can activate through being a group in harmony with each other is significant. It is a goal of mine for 2024 to try to create clarity of understanding of our direction and our route to get there. This will be hard I know, we are complicated, huge and varied but I want to bring my internal and external influence to the forefront to ensure my team can always be clear on the priority we have set and the outcome for our citizens we are trying to create. Each and everyone of us has personal influence, the department wide view of what digital is here to do can and is influenced by how we show up every day. The citizens experience of what we deliver and how is clearly influenced by what we deliver, when it is delivered and how we work with our business to make it ‘just part’ of what we do. With this in mind I think we turn back in to our own personal group to check in and ensure that we are applying the level of influence we can and to ensure that if there is more we can do we know how to do it.

For me 2024 has a key input to its success, how we build our groups, create the networks, formal and informal, to support us and how as a group we all run in the same direction. The Park Run of delivery requires the same amount of volunteers to mark out the course that the Sunday morning version requires, our groups will together be that force for direction and communication as well as the cheer squad helping us get to the finish line.