Week beginning 5 July

PSN: we did it. There was, inevitably, another unexpected step required. But some three months after I thought it could be done, it was. Clive Woodward talks about conducting post-mortems after success and letting go after failure. But on an occasion like this, you reach the finish line and it’s hard to muster the energy for very much. 

I’m not a fan of programmes, mostly. Too often they design a heavy governance structure that removes senior decision makers from the messy reality of project delivery; suck up time in unnecessary levels of coordination and work within artificial boundaries. But our work in housing is benefitting from some of the positive aspects of programmes: an emerging sense of community and common purpose, a forum to talk about dependencies where they’re identified, and just enough independence that each team can deliver on its own merits. That’s particularly important now we’re working through cross-cutting processes like managing housing ‘voids’, citizen sign-on and cautionary alerts.  

Emma’s done a cracking job in supporting the teams developing modern tools for social care, which I’ve also learnt from. I’ve a constant fear with Agile that it’s too interested in itself – the process. But the social care technology teams were in crisis mode for a long time – always scrambling towards the next big milestone. Eventually that came at the cost of our ability to deliver value continuously. By prioritising how the team was working she’s helped unblock what they’re doing. 

Most of my week wasn’t about the efforts to convert the Hackney Service Centre into a vaccinations site. That was the work of the public health, facilities team with the support of customer services managers and user research. But there I wager that these sorts of efforts have done more to integrate councils and local health services than a year worth of health integration boards.  

I’ve been thinking about the early-stage career of Steven Gerrard this week. Not just because I’ve been trying to identify the root cause of my Ingerland fatigue. Gerrard was thrilling to watch – tackling, shooting,passing, defending, scoring. All action. But every job he was doing meant that there was another job he wasn’t. There are a few things that I’ve worked hard to really immerse myself in. But I was wondering whether this comes at a price. Do I just vacates a space that I should be occupying: to be able to stand-back and view something more objectively? I know that there are some things I struggle to critique because I feel responsible for it as a co-creator. 

We talk of technology being an enabler of providing value to residents. But in a context where we’ve simply not had enough of the basics, it’s easy for technology to become the end in itself. Sometimes in our recovery that’s the right approach. But the combined impacts of COVID, the cyberattack and the vulnerability of our residents means it won’t necessarily be. I’ve been thinking about our portfolio of activities and working to steer a couple towards an approach which is more holistic. 

Next week

We’re looking to confirm the key goals for the next three months of cyberattack recovery. With so much to do, there’s real merit in forming a shared opinion of how our performance will be judged. But it’s hard to know how far to push this: either in describing how ‘priorities’ will be treated relative to all the other things that should, and will happen and the extent to which it matters that we’ve got common priorities. At some point soon, I also need to look ahead to the end of the year: where do we want to be and have we got sufficient focus and impetus to get there? Doing this before September feels important so that we’ve got time to respond.