Week beginning 24 May

This week was mostly about people. Perhaps most weeks in most jobs are. This week was about how to manage people’s unexpected reactions. To ensure that things that could have been perceived to be climactic were still thoughtfully considered. And to try and build areas of agreement where it might appear that there was more that separated us. 

One of the consequences of the cyberattack was that there were certain options that, to my mind, blatantly weren’t available and others that were distinctly undesirable. But we didn’t have time or space to construct an argument around that or develop a consensus. We simply had to deliver value. And for a while that was enough. But it’s inevitable that people ask why alternative routes weren’t available and, perhaps, wish that they might have been. And we need to ensure there’s enough space for that and sufficient opportunity to listen whilst remaining focused on delivering value. 

This week was also about teams. I was immensely fortunate that my first experience of working in a multidisciplinary digital team was made to look effortless by its participants. And having been through that experience I can sometimes rely on the processes of user centred design and Agile being enough to make a team work well. But as I was removing some dated artefacts from the office wall I stumbled across a team charter where people had committed to ways of working that I had taken for granted. And it provided me a fresh perspective on our work and helped me value more, the investment that colleagues make in building truly diverse and inclusive multidisciplinary teams.

Based on that, I’ve also been reflecting on how we evolve as a customer, digital and data team.  We’ve talked about transitioning ‘from start-up to scale-up’ and much of that is about putting more structure, processes and routine than we had four years ago. It’s often easy to see the limitations of what you have. But in the last few days I’ve also had a chance to reflect on some of the intentional benefits which, honestly, I’d forgotten about. There was more method than might have been apparent at first glance. And so as we respond to the need to run Agile at greater scale and ever greater pace, and coordinate more complex work, we still need to hold the ambiguities inherent in the pursuit of a multi-faceted goal over an unknown timeframe through a period of flux. 

This is the period that will do most to shape the year to define the decade. Can we deliver sufficient value between now and summer? Can we come to a resolution on the major pieces of recovery work that we’ve been pursuing for the last six months or so? Will we have the focus and energy to begin well the new activities that come our way? And can we embed the changes we’ve made to how we support our residents following COVID to ensure they become ’just how we work’?

So with all those questions and all that learning, I bugger off to Portugal for a few days. Having had some time off over Easter it feels too soon to have another break. But I know I’ve been short of that extra energy needed to make things happen. And so weeknote v10.22, if it ever sees the light of day, might simply be a reading list.