Week beginning 11 January

Focus for the week

I set myself five goals for the week, which were a potted version of the eight outcomes my applications and continuity workstream set for January. To help get these completed, I didn’t take on anything new. Each goal depended on people outside my team so I worked across all five during the week rather than choose different ones on different days.

They were:

  • To agree the proposal for the award of a new telephony provider (we got close, but haven’t completed the approvals)
  • Test the cross-Council recovery roadmap with my peers, which I began to do 
  • Agreed the focus for a proof of concept, which is done
  • Onboard our interim programme manager for social care and health, which was done
  • Ensure I’ve understood and communicated appropriately, the recovery path for two of our applications

Ones to watch

Here to Help – Zoe and team are working to develop the service so that it can meet the changing needs of our vulnerable residents over the longer term. It brings together a number of different components (community partnerships, a multidisciplinary triage, food and emergency supplies) and the governance has iterated from a starting point of being an emergency response. So we’re working on how it can become business as usual in all respects, how we can design evaluation into the operating model and how it should be led without it becoming too resource-hungry. 

Reusable components – we got some feedback from a team on how they’d reused aspects of a tool we’ve built in social care. It was good to hear that the team had found it easy to pick-up and use. The next step is to understand how we can turn the signposting and conversations that led to re-use into something closer to a self-service model. 

Cloud excellence – the cloud deployment team is identifying and prioritising what we need to do not only to deploy applications in AWS but also the processes, skills and tools we need to manage our cloud applications well. This week we agreed the approach to account management and had a good conversation about our initial focus for improving our cloud management. 

Out of hours – we’re finalising our assessment of the bids from prospective suppliers of the service for the next financial year. Councillor McKenzie reminded me we hadn’t worked as openly as we could have done through the formal stages of the procurement, so we need to think about this more carefully over the next few weeks.

What I’m learning

A common thread – I’ve held a general principle that you can have structure and templates or creativity and iteration. But we were already on a transition from ‘’start-up to scale-up’ in the team and the complexity of our recovery demands more clarity than we’ve needed before. My hypothesis is that we need a clearer common thread in the tools we use to communicate. Working out what ‘just enough’ looks like, and how disciplined we need to be, is the next, bigger challenge. 

Show & Tells – I’ve been known to get angry when show & tells lead to one team openly criticising another team before they’ve explored more tactful routes to resolving a problem. But less obviously I also switch off a bit from show & tells where everything appears to be fine. So I’ve been trying a couple of different routes to finding a happier midpoint. 

Checking in – When I worked in consultancy I could never really fathom why it was so hard to speak to most people. And now there is a virtual list of people who I’m avoiding where a conversation would be both nice and helpful, but I know that it’s not time-sensitive and that I don’t have the capacity to do anything beyond that conversation. I feel morally obliged to find a way to fix this because it’s a poor way of behaving, but of course that requires finding time to dedicate to the problem. 

Next week

I need to get the balance right between giving enough care and attention to the outcomes for January whilst thinking forward to what happens next. I’ve often made mistakes managing those transitions – either doing it too much myself that it’s hard for the team to see what’s happening, or doing it too early so it becomes a distraction.