North Highland with The Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has an ambition to be a world-leader in delivering Digital Diplomacy. Their Tech Overhaul (TO) programme aimed to transform how our Diplomats work in the UK and Overseas by providing modern hardware and cloud-based software. Towards the end of 2016, TO was failing to demonstrate how it would meet its objective of transforming ways of working across the organisation as opposed to simply rolling out new technology. As a result, the FCO engaged North Highland as their strategic Change Partner to shape and deliver a Change Management strategy to transform ways of working and support the programme’s deployment.

We have introduced expertise and industry best practices approaches to exploiting large scale change programmes, as well the knowledge insight on topics such as Behavioural Science, Programme & Project Management and Service Design to plug an expertise gap in the FCO’s Transformation team. Taking a collaborative approach, the combined team of Diplomats and consultants is starting to realise the transformation that TO has unlocked.

TO has delivered new laptops, desktops, smartphones and iPads as well as Office 365 computing software to more than 16,000 staff across 270+ global locations. We have also started to migrate staff and their documents to cloud-based Office 365 software. This core part of the TO rollout has unlocked new possibilities for ways of working at the FCO. For the first time the majority of staff have laptops, more staff than before have iPads and iPhones, and the shift to cloud-based software will unlock new possibilities for collaborative working, which was previously limited by location.

NH have designed a behavioural change campaign called Work Smarter to focus on delivering specific interventions and nudges to ensure staff are exploiting the new tools available to them. The campaign is first focusing on the behaviour ‘Work Where You Need To’, which aims to encourage staff to work flexibly when they need to and to work more effectively in meetings by using technology. The campaign has seen a significant uplift in the number of staff using laptops to present during meetings and to take notes digitally. Staff are printing less and collaboration with colleagues based overseas is increasing. Future phases of the campaign will focus on embedding security conscious ways of working, building on the increase in collaborative working and encouraging staff to move away from email and embrace other real-time communication tools.

Alongside TO rollout and the Work Smarter campaign, we have also introduced the FCO Labs team who work with Directorates across the FCO to tackle complex business problems by designing solutions that exploit existing DDaT capability available at the FCO. The team take a sprint-based design thinking approach to deliver outcomes at pace. Their work is repositioning the Knowledge and Technology Directorate (KTD) as at the forefront of Digital, Data and Technology innovation at the FCO and is re-building relationships with Directorates