Weeknotes 36: iteration and improvement

A shorter week this week – and slightly quieter because half term*. An opportunity to catch up, and think about what next.

5 (great) things that happened this week

  1. Service assessments. They’re a key part of how we’re governing ourselves, and this week we started to look at how we might iterate and improve on how we are organising, running and publishing them. I got together with Dennis, Susan and Kahar to think about ideas and ‘how might we’ questions based on our conversation experiences so far. As a result we’ve got some things to try (such as having a conversation with the team before they start prepping, adding a ‘what we learnt from doing the assessment’ section ) and some questions to answer – how might we track and analyse the areas where we’re not quite meeting the standard so that we surface wider issues?

A picture of our ideas for iterating and improving how we run, organise and publish service assessments

2. Local digital fund @MCHLG. Nic and I met with Linda and her team to talk about pipeline and how we might develop it further so that they can use it to publish the projects that are funded by the digital fund. They had some really good ideas about future functionality for the product and valuable insight and perspective gained from their work across local authorities. Linda and her team have done an amazing job in sorting through all the expressions of interest, reading through them shows just how many ideas there are in local government for improving how we deliver services. Also I got to see the ace Gavin Beckett twice this week.

3. Building digital skills. A great meeting with Joash from Amazon Web Services – they’re partnering with us to help build digital skills in Hackney. As part of this they’re offering our apprentices exciting opportunities – we now have 4 events planned out including speakers on innovation, building your digital career workshops and support through mentoring and coaching.

4. One Team Gov. I made it to the Westminster breakfast this week — as ever, a really interesting range of topics and discussion. Sam Villis did a fab job of recording the discussion:

5. Human centred design. Rahma Mohamed and Will ran a session with us on thinking user first. It was great to spend time reminding myself just how much work needs to go into working out user needs – it’s easy to forget when you’re not involved in a project day to day. My goal for the whole team is to spend at least 2 hours a month with users (I should be aiming for 6 – but pragmatically I’m starting small and deliverable).

User research is a team sport

What I learned this week:

I gave an update at a meeting which didn’t go brilliantly. It was ok, but doing some really simple things differently would have made it much better. So I’ve been reflecting** and as a result I have:

  1. Bought some connectors to keep in my bag so that I can always plug my iPad in and project my slides.
  2. Resolved to remember to ask more questions before preparing so I have a better sense of the context.
  3. And I’m going to meet a couple of people who talked to me afterwards – so that I can listen to their feedback and think about what their needs are. That way I think I’ll be better prepared next time.

Writing these weeknotes: usually I write them in one go, on a Sunday evening and post them Monday morning. This week, knowing that I had a short week, and wondering if I could do it differently, I’ve written a short bit every day on the train to work. I still ended up finishing them off at the weekend. I think it works better if I reflect on the week as a whole, rather than day by day, but it was an interesting experiment.

What I read this week:


This, from Philippa Peasland was great, and very thoughtful:

View at Medium.com

I’ve started reading A Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantú. It’s about the border between US and Mexico, part memoir, part history. It is very good.

I’ve bought Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble and Gene Kim as recommended by Richard McLean, but have yet to start reading it . . .

View at Medium.com

Rahma Mohamed weeknotes were really interesting – and reflective, and I really liked this series by Dr Joanna Choukeir . I’m looking forward to reading the new story each week:

View at Medium.com

*and a day off on Friday.

**to be honest there has been some dwelling as well, but that’s not as healthy.

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