Weeknotes 35: testing assumptions

It’s been a week of trying new things, and seeing what works, and using data to test what we think we know. Another busy week, but one where I managed to mostly get my diary right*.

So 6 (great) things that happened:

  1. I worked with Joe, the data scientist in our team to a) write up the main results of our ICT survey and b) define the first few questions we’re going to ask of the data we’ve got — so that Joe can do some amazingly clever things to visualize the answers. I’m so grateful to be working with someone who’s really expert in what they do — and I’m learning loads from him. The data team generally are doing awesome things — check out this blog post from Sandrine:


2. We ran the second service assessment — this time on a service we’re building to manage repairs. It went well — the team were confident and engaged, the assessors asked pertinent questions, and provided good feedback. The team (Unboxed and Hackney working together) have done regular, informative and open show and tells which has really helped. I think the team felt that it was a positive experience (at least that’s what they said when I asked . . .) Last week we ran a service assessment on our managing rent arrears service— you can see the report here. Next week we’re going to run a reflection session to see what we’ve learnt so far, and generate ideas about how we might improve how we’re doing them. We have 3 more service assessments in the pipeline, and I’m keen that we iterate and reflect as we go.

3. I met up with Richard McLean which was awesome. A brilliant chat about all sorts of things governance and culture related which has inspired me to think more about how we’ll know if our approach to governance is working. Sadly I didn’t get to see Dan Barrett and Sam Villis at their meet up, poor co-ordination on my part 😦 .

4. I spent some time on Friday working on the intro course on Agile, Lean start up and user centred design that Matthew Cain and I are collaborating on. We have our first 8 participants signed up, and we’re running it for 3 hours on 3 consecutive days, testing our assumption that busy people can commit to that stretch of time each day. Whilst doing some research for it I found Taiichi Ohno’s ten precepts, which really appealed to me:

You are a cost. First reduce waste.

First say, “I can do it.” And try before everything.

The workplace is a teacher. You can find answers only in the workplace.

Do anything immediately. Starting something right now is the only way to win.

Once you start something, persevere with it. Do not give up until you finish it.

Explain difficult things in an easy-to-understand manner. Repeat things that are easy to understand.

Waste is hidden. Do not hide it. Make problems visible.

Valueless motions are equal to shortening one’s life.

Re-improve what was improved for further improvement.

Wisdom is given equally to everybody. The point is whether one can exercise it.

5. Hidayat, Emma and Sam organised and ran a marketplace stall alongside ICT colleagues as part of the Chief Exec’s roadshows — we’d sort of thrown them into the deep end as they’ve only just started with us, and they did a brilliant job. We also used the opportunity to support Good Things Foundation #getonlineweek and to talk to colleagues about their use of Google (we’ve rolled this out across Hackney Council over the summer).

a picture of our ICT stand

6. We had several great show and tells this week – including one from our IT security colleagues all about the work they’re doing to keep our systems and our data secure and safe and one from Ayup and London Borough of Kingston about their work on social prescribing.

Mac and Keith and all things security.

What I read this week:

Two blog posts from Matt Edgar — both of them about asking the right questions, and empowering teams to ask them too.

“the moment we start prescribing policies and freezing repeatable business processes, we limit the capacity of those involved to add the human value that comes from being, well, people-centred in the first place”


This from Coco Chan about #silentcamp was excellent:


And also this from Giles Turnbull — great advice:

*right = balanced, paced and time to think between meetings. And time for exercise built in which is really important to me, to enable sustainable effort.


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