Personal blog. Day job: Customer services, digital and data in Hackney

Hello, fresh

Weeknote 1.2022

I used to start the New Year with bold ambitions which would fail because, despite the changing date, I remained me. I’m older now, and (a bit) better at setting realistic goals. But it hasn’t prevented me from starting afresh in the New Year. 

I’ve also noticed a disconnect, though, between the emotional freshness and the reality of trying to get back into the groove – exacerbated by working from home. 

Those thoughts remained with me for most of the week. 

First, the freshness. 

At the IT strategy show & tell, we explained why 2022 will be the year of outcomes. It can be easy to get lost in the technology so by spending time really understanding how our work enables residents and businesses to get a better service we’ll make sure we’re making the right choices. The reaction suggested it wasn’t quite the inspirational, insightful narrative that I’d dreamt of, but I was able to follow it up by finding a couple of opportunities to show teams what we meant. 

I was involved in a couple of projects before Christmas where something didn’t feel right, but where I’d probably only sounded irritated. The Christmas break helped me filter out the things that were personally irritating and focus on the bits that mattered. By starting the year thinking clearly about what mattered I had more confidence to tackle the things that were eroding our ability to deliver. 

I spent quite a bit of time this week thinking about the objectives and key results for the Single View project which is starting shortly. It’s a project bursting with opportunities – and therefore has the potential to under-deliver – so if we can set some really clear outcomes then we’ll empower the team to make good choices. There’s something about fewer contacts and faster calls – but we also need to be mindful about the unintended consequences. So we’re not there yet. 

I was also able to crank through two business cases for forthcoming projects. Part of me hoped 2021 marked the end of seemingly endless business case and procurement documentation. But at least I’m now reasonably quick at it. 

There were a few areas where it was harder to get back into the groove. 

I’ve been thinking carefully about how we might frame a service promise for residents which also enables colleagues to solve problems. I’ve got a nascent idea and I know how I want to test it. But I completely ran out of time / failed to work sufficiently efficiently to do anything about it. 

There were a couple of administrative tasks that I’d meant to do over Christmas and were never became more compelling than The Great Circle. I got some of them done, but too many still remain. (I also read a book about the emerging field of quantum biology. That was bafflingly complex.)

And on Thursday I was asked to share my goal for the week at the DMT huddle. I didn’t have one. That’s the kind of sloppiness that I’d be unforgiving of in others. 

As I was finishing off my weeknote, I learnt that Jack Dromey had died, briefly a former boss. I have vivid memories from the experience of working for him, during the summer of my finals. I learnt a substantial amount about patience, consistency and sheer indefatigability from Jack who, in the 1970s, learnt some Gujurati to help represent the women in the Grunwick dispute (if I remember rightly). Late on a Sunday, whilst I’d be watching the end of the 4pm Premier League game, Jack would be leaving me voicemail lists of things to do the next day (one voicemail didn’t last long enough for Jack). But looking back, what I remember, and probably learnt from the most, was the extraordinary relationship he had with Harriet. Thank you, Jack. 

1 Comment

  1. Mark Carroll

    The focussing/refocusing on tangible improvements in outcomes for residents is going to be incredibly important this year, as we move to the next stage of our as yet ill-defined transformation programme. Essential that we build work with our residents to have real insight into the issues they want us to be better at, build internal ownership and leadership, have clarity of thinking and development, and have models to test and iterate from. Will be difficult and exciting.


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