Week beginning 29 November 

I was on holiday this week – on my own. It gave me the opportunity to step back from (almost all of) the day to day and think about where we are and what needs to happen next. I’m lucky enough to have been on holiday before now (twice this year) but there’s something about being in a different timezone that particularly helps you disconnect. 

There’s almost never a good time to be away. We had a problem with how our new phone system works on Chromium devices which, whilst resolved towards the end of the week and with fantastic efforts from the core team, didn’t get the leadership I needed to give it. So whilst there was something faintly ridiculous about giving the Silver command briefing from my journey back from the airport, I was pleased not to have missed it. 

The position in repairs customer services remained better than previously, though demand was 25% higher this week than last. We’re continuing to grow the team, with a particular focus on providing jobs to people living in Hackney to make sure that we’ve got a more responsive service as we head into the colder months. 

But mostly I thought about the next year – the new opportunities which are available as a result of how we’re recovering from the cyberattack, the future shape of the IT service and the proactive services we’re starting to develop for residents. Being away from the day-to-day helps me think big, unencumbered by some of the things (realities) that make ambitious goals feel less achievable. Talking to people from other organisations also gave me a different perspective on some of the challenges we’re facing and where we are and aren’t doing as well as it appears from the inside.

I also read an absolute gem of a book: Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik. Each chapter acts as a biography of a material (sand, concrete, porcelain) and how it, and we, have shaped our world. There have been a handful of books that I’ve read and enjoyed so much whilst learning about something that I previously had no appreciation for. 

A lot of next week will be about the time the management team is spending, working through the next level of detail on our future shape plans; about the further work we need to do as part of the repairs improvement drive and then Kelly’s last week with us in customer services.