Some SHOW strategising

(try saying the title fast…)

An initial blether planned for tomorrow, on the topic of collating/updating the strategy for SHOW. Obviously, an opportunity not to be missed, given SHOWs centrality to all things webby this side of the border. Here’s my letter to Santa on what we might touch upon:

  • the political/organisational context. What does this conversation emerge from and lead to, both immediately and more broadly? Specifically, it seems that there’s a senior management discussion coming up very soon, for which at least initial thoughts need to be organised. More broadly, for example, as far as I’m aware, there was a discussion within SG (Scottish Government) recently of the idea of creating some form of Gov’t-wide portal – it seemed someone thought that a scottish equiv of Direct.gov should be created, and had mooted a spreadsheet-based exercise to collect all relevant links…sigh. Really…
  • the business context. That’s, most directly, Scottish health web-business, with readily-identifiable players including SHOW itself; NES and the e-Library; NHS24; the Health Boards including Health Scotland. Each will have their own plans, areas of specialisms, and probably, ideas for taking over the rest of the world. Atos too, in terms of server farms and the like? And other key contractoors too by extension. Any SHOW strategy will have to say some enabling and influencing things about these stakeholder interests.
  • which takes us to stakeholders, and whether we should at an early stage do some form of stakeholder analysis.
  • We’ll need to sketch out some form of big-picture outline of where we’ve been, and where we’re going to. There’s quite a lot of mantra-level material easily available about web 1.0 and its all-pervasive ideas & metaphors, for the former, and other stuff on web 2.0. But maybe we shouldn’t major on the decimal point stuff in case that puts the hi-heid yins off. The same concepts can be aired without the labels.
    • it’s the social web we need to orient towards;
    • also publication standards (microformats & the like);
    • the mainstream influence of open source (not just the geeks’ version, but the broader open source movement and thinking), in distributing so widely the tools that confer the power to co-create information and knowledge;
    • key mantras like ‘the web comes to you, not you go to the web’, and the like.
  • But sloganising can only stand in for analysis for so long. Perhaps its role is to buy time to make the case for some decent analysis, which will need to be bought in, I suspect. And could usefully be seen to be done so, anyway. One might be able to acquire some of this ready-made, for example the recent Gartner reports, and the ‘Power of Information’ (see also the ‘co-creation version’) thinking.
  • We’ll also need to deploy, or re-deploy, available research into what users will be doing by the time any strategy we collate comes to fruition. Here, there’s maybe an insight to be gained from the recent JISC report into the user voice. JISC suggest that todays expert users, which they give space to, are tomorrow’s mainstream. While the power of this is more intituitive than scientific, it’s still…powerful. The unsettling lessons JISC spells out for knowledge providers surely have their parallels for the health domain too.

Then there the organisational development part of strategy. What’s SHOW’s ‘core business’? Or USP? Hosting expertise? Standards and their development & promulgation? or what? If this is to be majored on, does anything else that SHOW does currently have to be downsized or better dealt with elsewhere? (This assumes that no organisation can move into new fields and carry on doing all of what it was doing before. Some things may need to be shed, or carried on with elsewhere. What might these be?

 Just to start with.

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