Weeknotes 27: reading, listening, doing


I had a great conversation with Liz about KPIs, measurement, data and ROI. We’re both working on related bits of how we demonstrate value so it was great to put our heads together and share our thoughts.

Martin Chaney from Greater London Authority came to spend some time with us at Hackney — so I took him along to our new shout out project standup. Dennis is trying out a new way of surfacing blockers, discussing dependancies and collaborating between projects — this was our first try and it worked pretty well. I think it’s partly what Catherine Howe means when she talks about the deliberative layer of governance — looking at issues and decisions that are wider than one team.

Later on I went to the housing transformation steering group — a useful introduction to key stakeholders I hadn’t had a chance to meet yet, and insight into the challenges faced in housing (as someone new to local government I’m continuing to learn a lot every week about all the services).


I continued my user research by finding another victim (sorry, participant ;-), this time from one of the application support teams. It was really good to get their perspective on governance, process and change management. Richard then helped me affinity sort what I’ve done so far:

Affinity sorting

Apprentices — Esmay and her team ran an excellent managers session for line managers of apprentices which I went along to — really well thought out and delivered. As a result our master trello board for inducting our apprentices is developing nicely.


Swim #4 of 8. Getting better at this — and the pool is warm even if the air temperature has dropped somewhat.

Then a great show and tell from FutureGov on the work they’re doing with our temporary accommodation team, to see how we can develop a digital service to better support residents and the staff that serve them. The team have done some really good work in the first two weeks. And Stuart Mackenzie remembered my desire for this badge (thank you!)

I am a militant optimist and now I have the badge too

Convivio came in to talk to us about the complex work they’ve done with Cabinet Office looking at how to index, publish and reuse research across government. We’re trying to solve a similar problem in Hackney re: user research so it was great to share insights, approaches and possible solutions.


I worked from home which gave me the chance to look at the great work Stephen’s been doing around contract management and procurement. He’s (almost) as new as I am at Hackney and he’s done a brilliant job of pulling together the information we need, engaging with internal users, and the thinking about what we want to focus on.

I tried dialling into an end of discovery show and tell, which sort of worked. It’s never as good as actually being in the room. Luckily Niall, Amy and the team had done a good set of slides to support the conversation which made it easier to engage with.


Gavin Beckett and I caught up on all things local government, what MCHLG* is doing and the local digital declaration, and local gov camp (it’s my first one in September).

I also had my first Let’s Network Hackney meet up — with Larissa who works on the Pause programme — Hackney was the first local authority to run this programme, and we had a really good conversation about what it does and how it works. Let’s Network Hackney is an online matching app that connects staff to each other so that they can learn about what other teams are doing at Hackney.

What I read this week

I read a lot this week. More than normal because I’m researching and thinking about a few different things at the moment. And because I’m trying out using my commute to read rather than do admin tasks.

I’m reading Tobias Mayer’s book The People’s Scrum. It’s a collection of essays which works well on the train to dip in and out of.

Rob Miller shared this great piece from Catherine Howe on full stack decision making which I referenced earlier. I liked this line:

for most people it’s better to have a well made decision you don’t agree with than no decision at all

This from Beatrice Karol Burks and Jonathan Flowers (part of 3 part series) is great:


And this was interesting reading:

I constantly hear people saying that if they use this new technology, they’ll get better forms. But you won’t, not until you’ve worked out good questions, why you’re asking those questions and what you’re going to do with the answers. Changing technology will never solve the problem of asking a bad question.


Right — the Bank holiday awaits. More next week.


*Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

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