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The UK Government Digital Service (GDS)


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Birkinshaw J;Duncan S

Publication Year



The case describes how Mike Bracken, the newly appointed head of the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), took on the massive challenge of setting up, from scratch, a centralised team to deliver online public services efficiently online across all of the government’s digital channels. This involved not merely overcoming great operational and technical challenges – legacy IT systems, lack of recognition and reward for specialist skills – but instigating deep cultural change and securing senior-level buy-in to make the necessary changes happen. The case illustrates how to approach implementing large-scale change across a highly bureaucratic organisation; in this case, the UK government. As such, it is a beautiful illustration of where agile works well. One key point to note is that, rather than focusing on the specifics of agile working, it demonstrates when agile methods can be a very powerful tool for enabling change. It also illustrates the importance of a decisive leader in getting an agile way of working implemented (and to some extent, risk-taking on the part of Mike Bracken and his sponsor in government). We will discuss the pros and cons of this approach.

Topic List

Agile working, Change management, Organisational development, Project management, Strategic planning


Government; Public Sector

LBS Case Number



United Kingdom

Available on ECCH


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