Weeknotes 37: the power of productive conversations

I’ve had some really productive conversations this week, where setting the conversation up with the right people, a clear outcome, and early shared understanding of the reason we’re talking has meant we’ve been able to move forward on work at pace.

5 (great) things (conversations) that happened this week:

  1. Martin Chaney and David Durant asked me over to the GLA to be part of one their service assessments. It was really good to see the approaches the GLA team are taking and an opportunity for me to learn from other teams, and think about the sorts of questions an external assessor can usefully ask. Plus — seriously they have an amazing view:

Tower Bridge at night

2. Rob Miller and I had a great conversation with Sarah Gornall, who I’m doing some coaching with as I navigate my role. I’ve worked with Sarah before, and she is awesome. Having a joint conversation really helped to set up an open and honest discussion of what I want to get from the coaching, and what benefits it will bring to HackIT.

3. I had several brilliant conversations about Governance as a service this week. First with with Rashmi, our lead developer to find out more about our API standards, and Hackney development playbook. Both of these are looking great and they’re a key part of how we’re approaching governance as a service.

Then with Ste from Citizens Advice who’d read my original blog post. We talked about everything from team empowerment to running effective meetings to Catwigs*. And finally with Warren and Emilia from GDS/Crown Commercial Service who are doing really exciting work about the bigger procurement/commercial skills picture. We’re collaborating with them both on an MCHLG local digital fund bid – a Discovery phase to understand how we might build capability in digital commercial, procurement and contract/supplier relationship management across local government. **

4. Emma Harley gave a lightening talk at MCHLG on the work we’re doing on Submit my plan. The team’s show and tell was also this week – featuring brilliant collaboration and innovation with our GIS team and our planners.


Love the innovative use of lockers to display the user journey too, which generated a good conversation about what decisions the team have made this sprint and why:

submit my plan user journey on the best bit of space available

5. Rob Miller, Joe and I chatted about the 2018 ICT survey results in more detail — and thought about what we wanted to analyse further. We need to balance what we’re just curious about against what analysis of the data will really help us move forward, and help us have useful conversations with colleagues about where we should focus next. Joe’s done some great visualisations already which we can use to start those conversations over the next few weeks.

What I read this week

This from Cassie Robinson. looking innovatively at increasing public engagement with health research:


and this from Prateek Buch on using agile principles for leadership


This from Mark Schwartz on anti-patterns — IT mental models and traditional behaviors that just don’t work well in the digital era. I particularly love the names they’ve been given . . .


Thankfully here are the potential anti dotes in the follow up blog:


*a set of cards designed to help you think about your project, not the apparent thing that is wigs for cats.

**talking of which, I’m running an experimental Wardley mapping session in December to see if we can use it to better understand our skills landscape and work out where we need to focus on building new skills in HackIT so that we are able to deliver in the future. If you’re interested** and want to help us give me a shout.

***there will be tea and cake involved.

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