New direction for the sociable organisation

This is probably the most satisfying post I’ve written on this blog. In a way also a huge relief. I’ve looked forward to writing it for quite a while. However, it also means it will be the last post on

SO masterclass

Two years ago I took a punt with an idea where I work at Leeds City Council about trying a different approach to see if there would be appetite to deliver something that clearly needed doing but which didn’t sit with a specific owner or someone who could be accountable if it went horribly wrong. We therefore didn’t bother with a PID (project initiation document) or business case as it was clearly a no-brainer and needed doing.

So I took ownership, canvassing and gaining support along the way, and we just did it. Starting small and growing it,  I called it Sociable Organisation; a working title for want of a better name, but it stuck.

It also needed the story to be told in order to help gain momentum, show and share progress and nudge the places that needed to take note and contribute. And they did, eventually.

The sociable organisation idea was created for two main reasons. Firstly to introduce the council and some NHS organisations in Leeds to the world of social media with an aim to be more social media friendly, and sociable in how and where they work and engage. Also to encourage and further support people in these organisations and elsewhere in Leeds to share their stories and dip their toe in the water by publishing what they were working on and in an environment where their words and thoughts were open to feedback, improvement and challenge. A bit risky perhaps.

It was a pilot to see if something sustainable could be introduced and a home found for the accountability involved with introducing social media and more sociable ways of working to business as usual.

Secondly, it was to look at what a more enterprising approach to how some things in Leeds might happen. Again for people to tell their stories, share their experiences of what greases the wheels for it to happen and also what gets in the way so that it might not.

The reason this is the last post on this platform is because the social media friendly objectives have nearly been achieved and have sufficient momentum to see them through and new direction needs to focussed on the enterprising approach.

The social media friendly aspect has pretty much been completed in that we have moved from a place of mostly talking about using social media and using it because we can, to actually using it to make a difference and demonstrating that it has.

From a council perspective we adopted some social media friendly principles and we have now made good progress on them all which is now documented here. NHS organisations are documenting progress elsewhere.

Thank you

Before I explain what next, I’d like to thank the many people at the council, NHS, and elsewhere who have supported, listened, agreed, challenged, advised, funded, volunteered to be digital champions, taken the plunge and whatever else. Even those who told me I was bonkers and it was too big and it would never get off the ground helped – you made me do it better. Thank you all.

To those from other councils who got in touch and said we like what you are doing, can you tell us how you did it? – well, it’s all documented on this blog – take what you need and do the same. Thanks for your support – you helped us too as you made people in our organisation see that you valued it and gave it added momentum.


I know there is still work to do and it’s not perfect in all areas, if it ever will be in a rapidly changing world, but being more social media friendly is happening, is manageable and scalable. Staff now have the required support to learn about, see the benefits of and now use social media as business as usual. We now have a digital access team using web chat, we have customer service access through social media, council meetings are web cast and senior managers and politicians are starting to publish and respond themselves rather than just relying on traditional media.

So what about progress on the enterprising Leeds idea?

Well that is also why the emphasis of the blog needs to change and why it no longer needs to be on my personal blog platform. It also needs to be sustainable, just like the expectations of work accounts where more than one person needs to cover.

The new version of the Sociable Organisation blog will be The version you are reading will remain as an archive.

There will be less about social media friendly and more about being more sociable, new ways of working and more on exploring what being enterprising might be.

Watch this new space!

Thanks once again to all who have provided words of support. It really did make those days when I wondered what the hell I’d done worth it.

Phil Jewitt



About Phil Jewitt

Comms guy and meaning maker, living in that place between personal and professional. Home is Leeds, Yorkshire. I work in communications for Leeds City Council, the 2nd largest council - with a lot to talk about and a lot to listen to.
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