Imagine a newly created government department, the Department of Small IT Enterprise. It has been setup for a number of reasons chief amongst them being that the Public Sector and Private Sector neither trust or respect each other anymore ... and big IT projects are mutually loathed.
The former have been (as they see it) stung by massively expensive and failed IT projects promised by the Private Sector whom they once worshipped but now feel betrayed by. The latter now see the former as both vainglorious and incompetent and who can be trusted only to waste a lot of valuable time.
In a court ‘irreconcilable differences’ will be cited as the cause of breakdown.
The problem, as with many high-profile marriages, was unrealistic-expectation. The private sector’s privates were not all they were cracked up to be and the public sector turned out to be prone to making unreasonable demands. The wedding was expensive, even a little flashy and so we all knew it wouldn’t last.
Serial relationship failure inevitably leads to a go-it-alone mind-set with liaison limited to satisfying only basic needs hence the Department of Small IT where we find two modestly paid Directors (to avoid recruiting IT narcissists and psychopaths) who are planning some modest work.
“I say Quentin, I’ve just come back from No10 and apparently our school ICT is in a complete bally mess and if we don’t do something about it Johnny Foreigner will run rings around our sprogs”.
“Golly, that’s terrible Nick, I’ll call the Microsoft rep right away, he’ll know what to do”
“No, no apparently he’s part of the problem but that’s very hush hush- we have to do it all ourselves”
“Oh, yes sorry I forgot, the divorce ... what do these schools need then?”.
Nick put on his most engineer-like expression and sucking through his teeth, like he saw the man at the garage do, he said, “ a new curriculum, some coding machines and electronic text books, that’s all, a ‘walk across the estate’. ”
“A walk in the park I think you will find Nick but we can’t compete with the private sector. The examinations and textbooks are run by giant corporations and ‘you-know-who’ owns all the software ... and these things cost money” said Quentin with a note of panic in his voice.
“Oh, Quentin don’t be defeatist, think like we were back at school; we Brits are at our best with our backs to the wall. Anyway, chin up, we own a bank! What a lark! Better still apparently we have a massive publishing house called HMSO and even better it turns out we have the final say-so on what studies are allowed to get qualifications.”.
“Topping, but you still haven’t solved the software problem Nick”
“Wrong again, how out of date are you? Never heard of free, open source software? Well get with it daddy-o it it’s all the rage in the up and coming companies don’t you know”
“FOSS we insiders call it. It’s a bit like software social security. You don’t have to do any work for it, you get it for free, no-one can take it back from you and you can do what you like with it ... just marvellous. We Linuxers just love our epubs you know”.
“Jolly good, well played Nick! we’re bally-sorted. Let’s go find someone who can make the machines for us the People’s Computer for the People’s Curriculum”
“That name won’t do. Too left wing, how about Volks-Maschine it worked for cars or maybe Raspberry Pi?”
Coming shortly to a blog near you: Part 2: The Private Sector sorts School ICT.