Weeknotes 38: learning from others, shared experiences

I wrote most of these weeknotes whilst it poured with rain outside. Winter is here and I can sense that the dark mornings and evenings already have the potential to have an effect on my general well being*. There’s also been sunshine too though:

6 (great) things that happened this week:

  1. A group of us from Hackney went to the Diversity in Digital event at Parliament. There were some ace speakers on a variety of subjects, and I saw Jenny Vass and Nour Sidawi and Julie Byrne which was fabulous.

2. Britt and Diane from Food Standards Agency invited me along to their digital strategy workshop, as an external participant/observer, along with Emma Stace. It was really interesting to learn more about FSA’s challenges and think about how they might move forward as a team.

3. Kahar drafted a great MVP guide for assessors ** at Hackney (we’re using the excellent GDS guidance as our starting point — standing on the shoulders of giants. We’re testing it out next week with two separate service assessments. Assessing our work against the Digital Service Standard is a key part of our governance as a service — an opportunity for the team to share learning, discuss challenges, and provide assurance that we are building the right things, to the right standard, in the right way. Simply put — they’re a way of answering the question “How’s it going?”.

4. On Wednesday Stephen, Karim, Jackie and I (aka the contracts team) spent time with Steven from Camden talking about mobile data and print contracts. We were effectively sucking all the knowledge and recent experience from him so that we can learn from Camden’s recent successes in both of these areas. There’s lots to think about as well as opportunities for improvement in the way we provide these services at Hackney. Overall on contracts and procurement we’re taking an agile, user centred design approach to thinking about future services. Our plan is to work through an internal discovery process on key services before starting any new procurement — this month it’s our multi functional devices***. In 3 two week sprints as a cross functional team we’re going to learn more about our current service, our users needs and what the data is telling us at the moment. We think there’ll be improvements we can make to the current service as we go, as well as learning more about what’s needed in the future.

5. On Thursday Keith, our lead architect, ran an open session with his team to present the high level network design . This was a really good session, and a great example of why we open up our work to external challenge at an early stage so that we can iterate and improve. He’d invited a range of people — from other local authorities and other industries, and there were thoughtful questions and discussions as a result. I was quietly pleased to understand almost all of the conversation (there were some quite technical moments) — it’s not my background or area of expertise by any means but I’ve been reading widely, and asking questions at every opportunity so that I can learn more about it.

Keith outlining his teams‘ high level network design

6. Our regular HackIT team strategy stand up was so popular I had to peer from the back — Rashmi and her team along with Made Tech sharing their work on our APIs.

What I read this week:

This from Jonathan Kerr, I really liked this format and Dan Barrett mentioned me in his as well:


Challenge accepted. This from Amanda was excellent:


This from Alex Mecklenburg — I worked with Doteveryone in my last role at Acas on the pilot and it’s great to see the format iterate and develop:


Philippa Newis wrote a great blog about whe she wanted to join HackIT:


and Gill from our design team wrote a really useful blog post about our recent empathy lab pop up:


*this happens every year and I manage it through a combination of plenty of outdoor exercise, a light box and a Lumie light alarm clock.


**feedback on these would be awesome

***printers . . .

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