Week beginning 22 November
I feel two contradictory feelings about this week: I’m pleased I did everything that I set out to do, but am worried that I’m limping to the finishing line already. Literally, I’ve consistently ran less far than the previous week and don’t care enough to fix it – even though my stretch target of 1,500 miles for the year remains in view. I also lay awake for hours at least twice this week, which might have had an impact. Sadly, I don’t often notice that I’m tired until I find myself constantly refreshing my phone.
I spent most of the week in the Service Centre. Nicola is leading our work to improve the experience for residents, making it more welcoming, simpler and ensuring we have the same visibility of what’s happening as we do for services we provide on the phone or on web chat. It’s lovely to join a video call in the atrium and have colleagues remark on what an impressive building it is, more than 10 years after it first opened. And I enjoy working where I can be in the middle of the hustle and bustle rather than being marooned in a meeting room.
Ron started as head of customer operations. He’s brought a great energy and natural enthusiasm already. His first few weeks are all about orientation and observation and I suspect he’s having to work hard to curb his instincts to get things done.
We also had seven new starters hit the phones on our priority housing repairs lines. We recruited them through the Hackney Works service which helps ensure the heartbeat of the service stays local. The early signs suggest it’s already having a positive impact for tenants, with average waiting times around five minutes for our emergency lines.
The Repairs Improvement Board met on Friday, providing an important senior-level oversight for the improvements that are needed. It’s important to maintain that system-level view so that we tackle all the things that are making it harder for residents to get the service they need. There are short term improvements we’ve already started to make, and we’ll need to ensure that we address the deeper issues also, so that the changes we make are sustainable.
I got stuck-in to two projects (our cloud engineering excellence and documents products) in a way that I really enjoy, don’t get a chance to do often enough but also constantly worry about. Getting into the detail of who needs what, when and how that’s best achieved makes me feel like I’m practically making a difference. But I worry that I’m either duplicating what the team is able to do without me or pushing people in the wrong direction as a result of having partial information.
I also spent some time tackling one of the three thorny issues that I wanted to resolve by Christmas. We’ve got a way forward, which is positive, but I’m also worried that our contrasting opinions on the root cause is going to trip us up. We can’t not act, but will need to tread carefully to ensure that the difference doesn’t undermine the good intentions.
And with that, next week I’m sort of on holiday for the next week. There are a few work-related things that I want to do but am largely going to be unavailable during working hours. I hope it’ll give me a new perspective on the opportunities and challenges we’re going to tackle in 2022.