Personal blog. Day job: Customer services, digital and data in Hackney

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Week beginning 4 October

We called it a year to define a decade and there’s now just 12 weeks left. That’s enough time for me to influence the extent to which we can end it on a high.

It’s striking quite how supportive colleagues continue to be. I treasure that because it’s the harder choice. At Friday’s Council Silver command (the 46th cyber I’ve done) we shared an early draft of a status report of the work done, in progress and still to do; broken down by search service. My hunch is we’d all benefit from an agreed definition of ‘done’. More than ever we’re now also delivering key outcomes beyond cyberattack recovery whether to upgrade the Wi-Fi, or upgrade our Academy database. So we need to make sure we’re not leaving important things un-done and that we can deliver the next phase of work sustainably.

I also had to revisit the early days of the attack this week in a presentation to technology leaders from European cities. It was a year ago on Sunday that everything changed. It’s a story that’s important to tell and I’m passionate about sharing what we learnt. But it’s getting harder, not easier, to go back there. Nevertheless, I’m toying with doing a personal retrospective. Working in a crisis does compromise your ability to be truly reflective and I should spend a bit of time assessing where I’ve been least effective.

Coincidentally, I also visited a bar on Thursday night that I’d last been in the night before lockdown. It’s part of my commitment to investing in local businesses, of course. But Friday afternoon might have been more energetic if my commitment wasn’t quite so strong.

Over the last week or so I’ve been actively working on responsible leadership. In particular the importance of setting clear standards. It led to me twice being cross on a single day which has almost never happened (as far as I know). I’m not sure that’s a particularly good thing. It’s not inherently bad but it doesn’t leave you very far to go and it’s not particularly constructive. More helpfully I’ve been trying to eek out time to confront some of our thornier challenges. I’m partly culpable for many of these things and I can see the frustration that they cause. They still exist because there aren’t easy answers so I also need to make sure we can focus on actually developing solutions or else bringing the issue into view could lead to greater frustration.

Next week’s a bit of a TK Max week – a jumble of things where it’s hard to work out where to find the value. It’s the first week in a while. But it also coincides with our new head of customer experience starting in Hackney – so that’s exciting, and hopefully I can find enough time to make that focussed and fulfilling rather than vaguely overwhelming and scattergun. 

1 Comment

  1. Mark Carroll


    These open, raw and honest weekly updates are very powerful. I have read each one over the last few months and continue to be inspired by the dedication, skill and expertise that you, Rob and the the team bring. The progress has been evident to me and we had a preview of the status report on Friday.

    One of your themes in these notes has been how to balance the setting of very high standards, with ensuring colleagues have the space to develop, experiment and celebrate successes, which are important to them but not necessarily to the organisation. As an organisation I think we have lots to learn from your journey and from colleagues in other areas who have had to rapidly improve performance. I’d welcome an opportunity to talk about that when we have a chance.

    Have a great weekend.


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