Week beginning 8 March

Focus for this week

I’d resolved to set myself some clear, measurable goals for the week and actively use them to guide my time. I also wanted to build a bit of routine into the start and end of my days so that I was thinking actively about whether I was doing the right things, rather than the things that came my way. It was a qualified success. 

I set myself four goals: 

  1. To follow-up a decision from our Cabinet Procurement Committee on Monday night to initiate the project to onboard a new phone system
  2. To ensure the team could start work on the housing register;
  3. To model the initial costs of our new cloud infrastructure
  4. To ensure our cloud engineering team has the resources it needs

On reflection, it would have been better if I’d been more explicit in committing to the goals and then worked more actively with relevant team members to ensure they were met. Then I wouldn’t be sitting here, asking myself whether I’d fully achieved them. 

And actually, the most important things I did this week wasn’t any of the above. I spent a significant chunk of time with Rob, Cate and Henry thinking about how we were organising ourselves for recovery and what that could mean for the longer term shape of the team. We don’t have all the right answers ourselves but need to set out the opportunities so that we’ve got a starting point for discussion. 

Ones to watch

Vaccines – we had a really helpful session with the Mayor this week, sharing experiences of supporting our GP surgeries contact residents to promote the COVID vaccine. It’s a different type of conversation to the ones we’ve been having through the Here to Help service and we’re deliberately focusing on residents who may be less receptive to the conversation. It was good to hear how the team is adapting to the challenge. 

Data platform – we’re exploring how the creation of a data platform team can accelerate our work to capture data once and use it many times (where appropriate). We’ve now got a shortlist of potential opportunities ready to start work next week. 

Modern tools for housing – the discussion at our steering group this week felt really positive, and it was evident how Cate, Francois and Jasmeen had prepared for it. Managing the programme won’t always be easy. Taking the time to understand what’s making people nervous, confronting things that aren’t right and then working rapidly to take action will always require time and energy. But it will usually be worth it. 

What I’ve learnt this week

The power of doing the right thing. We had a brief period of controversy last week when two things we did created conflict unexpectedly. In the moment, both were frustrating and even alarming for the team. But I was also sure that we were right. So we dealt with the concerns but stuck to our position. And this week both of the outcomes we were seeking were achieved. Now, we need to use that to gain confidence that change may not always be popular but if we do it in the right way, and have courage in the quality 

Working at work may not be so productive. I’ve been into the office a handful of times in the last year. After the initial shock of quite how empty it is, and quite how hard it is to get energy when sat on a bank of empty desks, the experience has stabilised. But I haven’t got any more productive. For most tasks I actually work more effectively at home with fewer distractions, even if it’s less rewarding. That couldn’t be more different to a year ago when I considered a day working at home to be a generally lighter experience.

Next week

Out of hours – next week we’ll be talking to councillors, and then to residents, about our out of hours service and how we can develop it to better meet the needs and expectations of residents accessing this vital service. Longer term, we’re thinking about how we can provide a wider service by delivering this in-house. I spent some time sketching out the critical path this week and it looks very achievable; if it was the only thing we had to focus on!

Both children are expected to be at school for most of next week. That will be properly weird. In theory it ought to be more focused time. There’s a danger that with no-one to look busy in front of, that I’ll find too much laundry to distract me. 

So to mitigate that, I’m going to commit to some clear goals, discuss them openly with the team and work them through the week. But I’ll also need to make space at the end of each day for reflection before the childcare kicks-in.