All posts by Ben Proctor

A hiatus from The Satori Lab in 2018

Handwritten text reads "Unconference it's fun and it doesn't hurt"
GovCamp Cymru 2017 by Sara Long used under CC-BY 2.0

Nearly five years ago a small group of us felt that we could see a gap in Welsh public life.

We felt that Wales didn’t have a space where people delivering public services could come together to talk about the challenges that were over the hill. The big things that were coming round the mountain that organisations needed to be ready for.

So we decided to set up an unconference for public services in Wales: GovCampCymru. Because someone needs to get these things going: The Satori Lab volunteered to manage the process and look after the finances for the first three years. Those first three events seemed to go pretty well. So we made GovCampCymru 2017 happen too.

It’s 2018 now and we’ve given some thought to the prospect of a GovCampCymru 2018.

We’ve come to the conclusion that The Satori Lab won’t make this one happen. We want to take a hiatus and to be able to focus on some other things this year. And we don’t want GovCampCymru just to become another step on the hamster wheel. It should be a solution to a problem that a bunch of us agree exists. It should have passion and energy behind it and we have passion and energy for some smaller scale, more experimental ideas in 2018.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be a GovCampCymru this year. It’s a community event not a company event and we’ll be very happy to hand over the keys and the resources to anyone from the community who wants to make it happen.

But we’re going to take a break.

We’re not saying we’ll never drive forward an event like this.

But we are saying we won’t do this in 2018.

The business case for attending GovCampCymru

A large hand-drawn grid which is half-filled with paper to form an agenda
Photo by Sasha Taylor used under CC-BY-2.0

You know how it is.

“Hey boss. I’ve found this great course/workshop/seminar. Can I go?”

“Probably not. Send me an email making the case and I’ll see what I can do”

For your convenience here is a draft email for you to send:

To: Your boss

Subject: Attendance at GovCampCymru

Hi boss

Just a quick note to ask for support to attend GovCampCymru.

GovCampCymru is a one-day event taking place in Cardiff on 24 September. It will focus on improving public services. It’s free to attend and I’ve been lucky enough to get a ticket (tickets are like gold dust).

Normally I’d send you a copy of the programme for the day with a list of the exciting speakers and the topics they’ll be covering. This would prove to you that I’d be learning things that would be in line with the objectives we agreed at my appraisal.

But GovCampCymru is different. The agenda is planned on the day. So I can’t tell you what will be discussed or who will be speaking.

Which might seem like a weakness. But actually it’s a strength. Because I will be able to pitch as session myself.

As you know I’m really interested in the idea of service design. I really think that if we started to design our services based on what service users need rather than commissioning services based on what we think they should have we could provided better and lower cost services. But I’m not sure how to get started with service design*.

So I’m going to pitch a session asking people to give me ideas on how to get started on service design**. I don’t know exactly who will be there but I know there will be some of the most experienced and innovative public servants in Wales.

And then I’ll choose to go to other sessions that I think will give me ideas, skills and inspiration that I can bring back into the team.

And considering it’s free I think that will be money well spent.

In fact I really just need permission to take a day to spend there.

Mind you it’s on a Saturday so maybe I’ll just go in my own time.

So I don’t even need to send this email.

Except, boss, I was thinking. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if you came along too?




*replace with whatever issue is causing you a headache

**replace with whatever issue you’d like to run a session on

Media Release – Anti-bureaucratic, pro-citizen: Is GovCamp Cymru the new face of government in Wales?

Tuesday 23rd September 2014

On Saturday, over 100 people from all over the UK will come together in Cardiff to discuss the future of public services and society in Wales.

This govcamp is an event, also known as an unconference, that has attendees leading the programme – there’s no agenda until the start of the day when people make suggestions for what they’d like to talk about. It’s free to attend.

Esko Reinikainen, co founder of Cardiff based Satori Lab, is one of the organisers:

“It’s open to anyone: public, private, whatever sector, whether this stuff is your work, or you’re just passionate about it.

“The event is about how we mobilise a network of changemakers to get to work on those issues that are affecting services and fundamentally changing society right now.

“This is not a conference, there’s no entrance fee and people are attending in their own time because they’re passionate about what they want for Wales.

“We have citizens, CEOs, public servants, tech companies and others coming together. But status and job titles don’t come into it, we’re linking up people to share ideas and start making things happen on the day.”

There are a few last minute tickets available, for more information and to book go to


Issued by Helen Reynolds (@HelReynolds) on behalf of the Satori Lab

Read more about how it works on our GovCamp Cymru explained

For more information on the event or to arrange to send a reporter/photographer contact The Satori Lab Ltd. They are:

Esko Reinikainen
07801 933068 | esko @satorilab .org | @reinikainen

Jo Carter
07454 984585 | jo @satorilab .org | @Jo_Carter64

Danielle Beck
07453 279000 | dan @satorilab .org | @dan_beckster

I got 99 ideas and a pitch is one

If you’ve not been to an unconference before , it can be daunting to even know where to start with pitching an idea for a session.

So we put our heads together and came up with some challenging, silly and interesting topics for discussion.

Do any of these help you with deciding on what you want to talk about?

Feel free to pinch, modify, ignore or add to these suggestions:

  1. How can service design help public services respond to The Williams Review?
  2. Should Local Government become a commissioning body?
  3. Is service design even possible with political interference and mass change?
  4. Does co production spell the end of elected politicians?
  5. If social media is engaging people, what is a councillors job?
  6. Is google glass just a fad or will it revolutionise social services?
  7. Is the language of innovation just the new management speak?
  8. Should local government have one service delivery platform like
  9. Should organisations try to improve employee engagement or should it be inherent in everything they do?
  10. Who are the real leaders in government?
  11. Should every team have a ‘hacker’?
  12. Public services ‘dance’ around the subject but never address it. Discuss.
  13. Why is the public sector losing its most talented people?
  14. Is co production just a new fancy term for consultation?
  15. Is engagement just a new buzz word or something we should be doing?
  16. Are PR people and social media gurus sucking our budgets dry?
  17. Why can’t we get rid of dead wood?
  18. Should public services be run like a business?
  19. Why can’t we start with a blank sheet… everyone to reapply for the job that we now need them to do.
  20. Public services shouldn’t be a job for life but should be an environment of ‘survival of the fittest’
  21. Will robots replace our jobs?
  22. How can we get better at interpreting data?
  23. Will self driving cars change the way we deliver services?
  24. Meals on drones – a reality?
  25. Does traditional social housing have a future?
  26. Do our communities have the skills and knowledge to really help us shape new services?
  27. Does open data really matter?
  28. Why do citizens lack trust in government?
  29. Are we really innovating?  Or polishing turds?
  30. If you want to create the illusion of change, have a restructure
  31. How can we fix procurement?
  32. Do we spend departmental budgets with the same care that we would our own money?
  33. Do we understand our communities?
  34. Could community profiling attract inwards investment?
  35. Can we avoid another social workers saga through more objective recruitment practices?
  36. Do we patronise our citizens with phony offers of involvement when we really think we know best?
  37. Are we prepared for the ageing population?
  38. What makes a happy workforce?
  39. Do we lose the essence of what we need to do in the jargon we use to describe it?
  40. Is there a realistic future of female leadership in government soon?
  41. Has flexible/mobile working increased our working hours?
  42. Are young people not ready for work? Or are employers not ready for the new generation?
  43. How do we stay ahead of the curve?
  44. Wales has missed the open data boat, how do we catch up?
  45. Leadership and culture in public services
  46. Is representative democracy in Wales representative or even democratic?
  47. Technologically, Welsh government is still in the late 20th Century, how can we fix that?
  48. How do we shift from policy made to suit government needs to policy made to suit user needs?
  49. All fur coat no knickers! Pandering to narratives of change, the say – do gap between talking culture change and actually being ready to commit to it
  50. How do we innovate and deliver the day job?
  51. If Ken Robinson’s vision for education is more fitting to modern learning, why aren’t we doing it yet?
  52. Staff motivation in austerity
  53. Culture change – is impatience a virtue?
  54. How can we make sure GovCamp Cymru is not just a talking shop?
  55. How to make innovation happen when your team just want to keep their heads down
  56. Politicians need to be on top of the latest management and organisational thinking to make government work
  57. Nudge: can we create behaviour change without it being creepy?
  58. Telling the story of public services – why are we so bloody bad at it?
  59. Can 3D printing save us stacks of cash?
  60. We should be conducting all meetings by videoconference to save unnecessary travel
  61. Why can’t I pay my council tax and fines using PayPal?
  62. Government workers are all suits who wouldn’t know fun if it hit them in the face with a procurement document file.  True/False.
  63. In times of budget cuts, should the arts be the first to go?
  64. Social media is too noisy to be useful to government right?
  65. Who has the most power in government and are they using it wisely?
  66. Public sector communications – should we go the full Buzzfeed?
  67. Public sector workers would be more effective if they were paid more.
  68. Public sector workers would be more effective if they were paid less.
  69. How can we promote the Welsh language more effectively?
  70. How do we engage the disengaged in society?
  71. Collaboration – sharing good and bad
  72. Data: Why do supermarkets know more about citizens than government? Can we change that?
  73. Why is it so difficult to share data between departments?
  74. Jargon: How do we talk like real people?
  75. Partnership working: how can we break down the barriers?
  76. How can we share lessons from failure?
  77. More leadership with less cash
  78. YouTube democracy: Do people really want to watch public meetings?
  79. Sustainability: how can public services be greener?
  80. Do we need to deliver what we always have?
  81. How can social care really integrate with the NHS?
  82. Why don’t we work with the voluntary sector?
  83. It’s all about the Benjamins: can we really do more with less?
  84. We’re looking for prudent healthcare. Can we have prudent local government?
  85. The democratic deficit: how do we better involve young people in our work?
  86. New Kids on the Block: should we be embracing tools like Snapchat?
  87. How do we engage with people who are seldom heard?
  88. What are user needs anyway?
  89. Is good practice a bad traveller?
  90. Is audit helpful?
  91. Making the case for more preventative work
  92. How can we make better use of public assets?
  93. How can we improve scrutiny?
  94. Nobody reads them. What to do with public notices?
  95. Employee engagement: What can we learn from the frontline?
  96. Do citizens want to be more than service recipients?
  97. How can participatory budgeting be empowering in an age of austerity?
  98. What can we learn from England to improve our public services in Wales?
  99. What do i need to know, that I don’t know right now?

Here are the discussions from UKgovcamp

And some more inspiration from Govcamp Australia:

If you’re ready to start discussing ideas for a possible pitch, you can head over to the discussion page and offer up your suggestions.

The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy: awesome fringe event

GovCamp Cymru fringe event
Friday 26th September
4pm – 6.30pm
All welcome
Register for free
Photo By Alan Cleaver
Photo By Alan Cleaver
Are you interested in how digital technology can help people engage with the work of parliament? Do you have any ideas that could shape the way MPs and members of the public interact in the future, or how citizens can share dialogue and bring change?
Join us for an event with the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy to discuss these themes, along with broader ideas about digital democracy in the UK today.
Everyone is welcome to participate. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to share ideas.
All the ideas from the evening will be documented and fed in to the commission’s report.
The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy was set up to consider, report and make recommendations on how parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom can embrace the opportunities afforded by the digital world to become more effective in its work. The commission will report its findings in early 2015.
The GovCamp Cymru team will be inviting delegates to join them for dinner in Cardiff at 7pm after this event.  We will need you to register that you are coming so we can book the table.
Please note: this is not sponsored and guests cover the costs of their meal and drinks.

Events, info and what’s going on

Friday 26th September
The day before Govcamp Cymru there will be a fringe event with the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy. from 4pm – 6.30pm.
Got an idea for a fringe event that you want to put on?  Get in touch! We welcome ideas and will help if we can: email us or tweet or get in touch on Facebook.

The GovCamp Cymru team will be inviting delegates to join them for dinner in Cardiff at 7pm after this event.  We will need you to register that you are coming so we can book the table.
Please note: this is not sponsored and guests cover the costs of their meal and drinks.
Some handy suggestions for those of you who don’t live near by by.
Saturday 27th September
It’s GovCamp Cymru at the Parade Hall!
All the details about what to expect are on the GovCamp Cymru Explained page.
It’s a Saturday night, you’ll be buzzing with ideas and have made lots of new contacts – we’ll be encouraging those who want to stay around in the city centre for drinks and food. Collaborate, connect, inspire and party! More details about that here soon…

Staying in Cardiff for GovCamp Cymru

If you’re coming to Cardiff forGovCamp Cymru in September, you might want to stay around for networking, dinner and drinks before or after we’ve done our stuff at the main event.

There are fringe events the night before and after the conference and you can check for details on our ‘What’s going on‘ post.

Here are some hotel ideas.

Hotels in Cardiff City Centre

Cardiff’s got lots of hotels for all budgets. Take a look at Tripadvisor or try these suggestions:

Hotels in Cardiff Bay

If you fancy staying by the sea, Cardiff Bay is gorgeous and about a 40 minute walk (1.7 – ish miles) or quick taxi ride to the GovCampCymru venue.