I had to spend much of yesterday at a hospital in London after my eldest was refered by our GP (thankfully, it turns out, nothing particularly serious).

Watching the machinations of the health service in action can be painful. There is paper everywhere. Vast stretches of waiting around are interspersed with short consultations with medical practitioners who seem wonderfully competent, but often distinctly unaware of what else has been going on in the course of one’s own consultation. It’s the sort of thing that is ripe for computerization, let alone digitization, yet the complexities of working practices today would indicate that people have no time to take on board anything new in order to become more effective in their work. The introduction of new technology runs the risk of either tissue rejection or the scaling of stupid, faster.

Yet within all this, and with a chequered past of massive systems project failure, there was a bright beaming light I happened across through overhearing a snatched conversation in a corridor outside the room in which we were waiting at the time. A group of hospital staff appeared to be having a conversation with a colleague who was leaving. The words I heard:

Maybe we should set up a WhatsApp group that’s not for work.

I can imagine health service information security klaxons blaring at this point.

But here is the hope – here is the evidence that our organizations are becoming staffed with a community of makers; of people who will find the tools required to be able to get on with their work more effectively. Find the platforms on which they can build teams and foster collaboration and sharing. And all outside of the strictures of IT organizations that appear to mostly be geared to stop people working.

And here’s the thing. This is going to happen anyway. Organizations can either choose to stop it, to shout “Compliance!” and “Governance!” and “Information Security!” and then pretend that it isn’t happening. Turn a blind eye to what’s going on in the shadows.

Or they can embrace it, trust their people, work out the regulations and compliance issues in a way that isn’t just “Stop it immediately”. Learn from what is happening, and learn that it’s the autonomy and agency that these modern tools (and Excel before it) offer that is the strength – not the tools themselves.

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