Week beginning 1 March 2021

A colleague said this week that I’d started to look ruffled. Truthfully, I felt beleaguered for the most part. There was plenty to take comfort from but just enough on the other side of the ledger, too. And it’s hard when you’ve lost five games at home and barely looked like scoring since December. 

Focus this week

I’m actually finding it hard to commit to goals at the moment. I keep telling myself I will and then the week starts and I can’t quite get enough time or control for it to happen on my terms. But as best as I can remember, there were three things I wanted to get right. I wanted to ensure that we were able to send council tax and business rates bills after weeks of hard work by lots of other people (I just wrote the summaries of each day). I wanted a positive start to our work to create a data platform team. And the first of our social care recovery strategy meetings needed to help align us around a positive vision and clear objectives. So in the sense that these things were achieved, it was a qualified success. But it would be over-stating it to suggest that I had a great deal to do with them. And there were just enough little irritations to make the week feel long. 

Ones to watch

There were two things that happened this week which I was surprised and delighted to see. The first was a performance dashboard for customer services. For various reasons, we do more reporting on our service than I’ve experienced before, and I was keen to ensure that all of the effort also created value for residents. I also want to ensure that we put residents at the heart of everything we do in the service; not just the day-to-day contact or through user research in projects (both of which are vital) but also in shaping how we identify and prioritise improvements. The performance dashboard is the first of a set of things that we’re using to try and open-up those conversations. Granted, most residents don’t get up in the morning hoping to tell their council whether to improve the blue badge process ahead of the housing repairs service. But when that does become important to people, we need to show that it’s not just a customer service but a citizen’s service. 

The data and insight team have also been doing a recovery job on the data we were managing in our business intelligence tool, Qlik. They’ve been able to recover data for a number of services that, in the words of one colleague, helps them feel they’ve got their life-blood returning. 

What I’m learning

Building back a routine – I’ve got a steady morning routine which involves a bit of year 5 maths, followed by a run and then a shower in just enough time for my first meeting. It no longer involves the sport pages of any website. But I need to bring back more of a work routine. I’ve talked about it often enough in my weeknotes. But somehow, once I’ve cleared my task list on a weekend, the noise of the week means the simple patterns get lost. 

Space for reflection – I’ve never really struggled to make space for reflection. It’s too deeply ingrained in how I think. But I fear the loss of the commute has chipped away at the natural time it provides. I’ve worked deliberately to create an end to the working day at home. It’s not glamorous: it involves either making food or tidying the kitchen. But I fear that the clean break means that I just switch and so reflect less. More of a routine might also provide a more obvious space for reflection. 

Next week

Well – it wouldn’t hurt if I aimed a bit lower and simple tried to put into action a good intention from my weeknote and see if it survived until Monday lunchtime.