Week beginning 28 June

I’ve struggled to hit my stride with weeknotes in the last few weeks. My oldest friend asked last weekend why I share them publicly. And when I’m not writing well, I wonder the same. At the moment my weeknotes are particularly conditioned by how I feel on a Friday evening. But I do it because the habit helps for when I really need it. So bear with me. 

The best thing happened right at the end of the week. I ran a session with customer services officers to understand what we could do to support their career development. The Council created a redeployment pool to support service delivery during COVID and I wondered how we could build on that. 

Some of the team were frustrated by the knock-backs and even talked about “giving up”. But there were some cracking ideas for how to change the situation, including establishing a peer support group, and analysing job descriptions to identify particular skills they might be missing. We’re also going to explore how we can showcase the skills in the team so that hiring managers can consider secondments when looking for short-term roles. It was energising and impressive to hear people wanting help, but who were also willing to commit to tackling the problem. 

I had a catch up with the team exploring how we can use technology better to support the administration of elections. They’ve got a clear brief, and their weeknotes have provided enough depth to understand progress. But part of what we’re asking was necessarily about working in ‘splendid isolation; whilst also exploring how many of our existing assets they could re-use to explore this solution. It was impressive to see the clarity of thinking and how well they’ve stuck to the task. 

We also had a productive discussion with social care leaders on our work to support the service.  We’ve got a shared understanding of the roadmap over the next three months and Emma’s been able to work hard on how the team is working so that we’ve a more sustainable approach to delivery.

But the most meaningful achievement was working with the NHS to turn the Hackney Service Centre into a vaccination site for the weekend. I sat back and watched in awe as the facilities and customer services team worked with our user researchers, data protection team and public health colleagues to design the experience and manage everything from the temperature of the building to the way we’d use SMS to manage supply and demand. And I can claim absolutely no credit for any of it.

All those good things notwithstanding, there were some pretty tricky bits this week, too. I set too many goals and failed to meet them. We did as good a job as we could with the launch of the new phone system (given how I’d framed the project) but we learnt late about some of the questions that users had, which I hadn’t anticipated. And there were some people things which I found personally challenging.

I was also frustrated with myself when I failed to be an active participant in a couple of short and tells. There was one in particular that didn’t quite work – but I couldn’t quite work out why. And promptly got distracted by another meeting. I need to do better by actively thinking about what I’m hoping to learn from the event so that one got a clear criteria by which to judge it.

So next week I’ve “rolled over” a few goals and need to magic some time out of thin air to attended to the growing number of things which need my input if they’re to move forward. Success for the week probably looks like getting to the end without dropping anything too pressing. But that dynamic often helps me focus.