Week beginning 15 March

The first week in a couple where I’ve ended it feeling relatively energetic and never dipped into ‘beleaguered’ territory. And no football this weekend. It’s all looking up. 

Focus for the week

I set five goals for the week and discussed these with the team over Chat:

  1. We understand what needs to be done to form the plan for onboarding the new telephony solution
  2. The data platform team has a clear and achievable goal to begin shaping their work
  3. We identify improvements we can make to the out of hours service and have a clear direction for its management over the next 3 years
  4. The team working on the housing register could begin work with a clear focus and access to the tools they need to avoid repeating previous work

Nobody said whether these were right or wrong, which typically leaves me a bit disheartened and then I remember that when Rob asked me for feedback on his goals for the week, I also struggled to engage with the question. 

We also refreshed our rhythms for Cyber Silver so we’re now setting goals for the week on Friday. It’s good to agree them as a senior team and have a common way to know what’s important to each other.  And I was really pleased to get feedback on my draft. It also coincided with me asking better questions: ‘is this achievable next week’, and ‘am I missing anything important? ‘

Ones to watch

Out of hours – I had an important conversation with a group of residents about our out of hours service on Tuesday night. I went from being worried about whether anyone would attend to having to close the meeting before every contribution was exhausted, after we overran. Helpfully we identified six potential improvements and got a much better understanding of the problem. 

Cloud engineering – No one really thinks that cloud is just someone else’s computer. But 15 years since I first used cloud computing, seeing the extent of the work we need to do to become a mature cloud organisation makes me admire even more the few organisations that have successfully made that transition. We’ve now got a clear vision for what this could look like in Hackney and a roadmap to show the extent of work we need to do over the next 3-6 months. And I hope we’ll be compelling advocates for not just why the transition is important but also quite how profound the change can be.

Design system – the team launched a refreshed design system tool for our work. We learnt through our COVID response that this was a critical part of our infrastructure to enable us to deploy digital services quicker and to a higher standard. And wow: it’s really exciting. We had a connected conversation about why we’ve found it so hard to recruit and retain front-end developers. A design system as cool as this has to help. 

What I’m learning

Community organising – a few years ago I was lucky enough to attend a weekend training session on the principles of community organising. Some of the ideas were similar to the Systemcraft approach we learnt about with the Forward Institute. And there were three occasions this week when I was able to draw on that experience. We built the out of hours discussion around the idea of ‘hearing testimony’ rather than the more structured, interactive workshop or formal presentation that I’d ordinarily have done. And when discussing the future of the change support team with Zoe I drew on the same idea to think about how we could create the conditions for an idea to emerge rather than preparing a solution to present to people. 

The value of experience – I had a meeting this week that would have previously caused me to invest at least a few days’ worth of energy and probably one interrupted sleep. It didn’t, this time, because I knew what was going to happen. In a (flash of brilliance) recently I defined confidence as the product of a deliberate action producing the anticipated and desired outcome. It’s a shame there aren’t shortcuts for these things. 

Next week

Over the next few weeks, I’m expecting to have a set of things maturing which will show what we meant by ‘a year to define a decade’. Work in social care, housing as well as our common components will be making some significant strides forward. We need to deliver these as well as we can, learn from what they could do better, whilst spending just enough time to think ahead three months to ensure we’re doing the right things now to ensure we will be making similar strides three months hence.