This week was harder. It felt like all the things that I haven’t done or (worse) where I had presided over things deteriorating, came together. By Wednesday evening I was asking existential questions about what value I really brought.
But I did have three goals for the week. They may have taken up around five per cent of my time but probably account for 95% of the value. And it was motivational enough that I felt ok by Friday evening. Three teams now have a set of draft OKRs and two more have a process for getting there. I’ve designed a workshop to help us explore opportunities and blockers to articulate the outcomes expected from projects. And we’re starting to understand what’s needed to operationalise a regular response to frequent callers in customer services.
Our recovery board is starting to show its value. We identify a handful of projects each week from the register where the weeknotes, show & tell or colleague feedback suggests they might need help. And then we agree how we’re going to find that help. The danger is that sort of meeting just becomes an information gathering exercise without creating any new value. But we’ve helped make progress on three projects over the last two weeks.
We had a challenge with our Technical Design Authority, though. I’ve written an internal weeknote on that. But the big thing is how we create a safe space where we can examine technical risks and communicate that to colleagues in a way that remains situationally aware and user centric without seeming aloof or high-handed.
One of the big things I’m learning about running a high profile operational service (IT is both those things, but somehow still different) is the things you need to continue to care for because they’re dynamic. There are some things which, once achieved, don’t get un-done. But there are practises and behaviours that you need to continue to work at because otherwise they fall backwards. The challenges with those things are making time to continue to pursue them, alongside all the new things you want to do. They can also be hard to spot because you’ve mentally ticked them off the list.
We’d made some really good progress to improve customer journeys with our planning service last year, but over the last three months some of those benefits have been lost. We made some changes to how we prioritise questions mid last week which led to an immediate improvement, but more work will be necessary to get back to where we were.
Over the last year I’ve not been able to invest nearly enough time in relationships with colleagues across the Council. Some of that is about remote working – I used to make sure I bumped into lots of folks around the campus. Complacency probably played a part, too: lots of new senior leaders have arrived and I haven’t caught up. It was good to spend some time this week with a new colleagues in our adult social care team and it reminded me how much more of that I should do.
Next week really does feature all the things – ranging from elections planning to cybersecurity; temporary accommodation to business licensing. So my goals are going to be important to give me a sense of purpose and focus. I’m going to stick with three: a clear roadmap for our temporary accommodation work; a Technical Design Authority meeting that helps embed our principles and starting the next conversation about how we can re-use our work to help other Councils.