So, what are some things that happened this week*?
Getting together around the wall
I’ve organised 3 experiments this month in front of our emergent portfolio wall. I’m curious to see if having a regular conversation with the right people, asking the right questions of ourselves using the wall as a prompt will help us create smoother, faster delivery. Matthew suggested some questions we could ask ourselves, which we’re trying out and iterating as we go. I’ve also ordered some ‘people’ stickers so we can see where we need people and skills on a project (this idea came from Giulia at Cancer Research).
Learning from others
Alice Carter from Ministry of Justice (MOJ) came in to talk to us about her and her teams work with young offenders and user centred policy design. It was a great talk – the team are working in a different way with policy teams, putting the user and their needs at the forefront, and designing experiments to deliver value early. It was really interesting to hear about the insight the team got from their observations and conversations with young offenders, and a reminder of what an impact open and engaged leadership makes to effecting change.
Setting ourselves up for success (part 1)
Budgets and finance tracking is one of those things that isn’t always top of the to do list. In a lot of places I’ve worked it’s been that thing you dread because there’ll be lots of untangling to do. Rob and I spent 2 days this week taking a step back from the detail and creating a visual finance picture that we’ve put up on the wall. This helped us identify where we need to put our focus as a team, and to create a set of hypotheses about where we can a) improve our financial management processes – focussing on the knowledge we need as a team b) invest so that we improve our ICT service and c) invest so that we deliver improvements for residents.
Setting ourselves up for success (part 2)
We’re very close to publishing our specification for on demand printing across the council. I was really keen to hit a (self imposed) deadline this week, but Stephen reminded me that the few extra days we need to take will enable us to make sure we’ve made it as clear and easy as possible for suppliers to submit good bids and the advice we got from our procurement colleagues will make it easier for us to assess those bids fairly and transparently.
What I read this week:
Soraya wrote a great blog post about our use of gov.notify and the benefits it’s bringing the teams we’re working with.
Reflections from Gary Dunn in North Lincolnshire on the recent gov.pay discovery funded by MHCLG digital fund, which also included a link to a blog post from Barnsley about their self built income management system. It was great to see our earlier user research used in the discovery, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the alpha.
I really liked this twitter thread sparked by Janet Hughes talking about change (and who doesn’t love a good triangle?).
What I’ve learnt this week – it’s ok to let go
This week I made the decision to let go of something that’s been part of my life for 16 years, ever since my eldest started school. I’ve been a school governor and then chair – I’ve learnt loads, and found it really rewarding as well**. But it’s time to let go, and use my spare time on something else for a while.
*apart from the swim, which as you can see from the picture, was a beautiful start to the day. I’m now 17 swims in towards a goal of 52 in a year.
**I’d be happy to talk to anyone thinking about being a school governor (it’s apparently the biggest volunteer group in the country), schools are always looking for skilled professionals to work with them, it’s immensely rewarding, and the local authority provides training.