Weeknotes 31: working with effective networks

This week has been a busy week and out of the office quite a bit. Out and about included my first visit to #localgovcamp, our quarterly management meeting, this time at Stoke Newington Town Hall, and a Hackney leaders network event.

So, 6 great things that happened this week:

  1. Local gov camp. Lots of energy, great talks, met loads of people who I’d been following on Twitter, heard mentioned by my colleagues, or had already met at One Team Gov. Nic, Emma and Richard hosted great sessions on the work we’re doing in Hackney on user research library, project pipeline and planning. There were loads of interesting sessions, to mention a few: Lizzi Standing ran a great session about #weeknotes which I think has inspired several people to start writing and generated a good discussion about working in the open. Esko from Satori labs ran a session on network mapping which sparked all sorts of interesting thoughts about how we might use this at Hackney, and Ian and Belen from FutureGov ran an engaging session about the digital academy work they’re doing with Essex.

2. I ran a workshop in the office around our learning and development strategy* with team leaders at the start of the week, asking ourselves three questions: What’s my role as a leader in embedding a learning culture? How do we develop a future leadership pipeline and then nurture it? What are my needs as a leader? I used the liberating structures 1–2–4-all method to make sure that we generated good discussion and ideas. At the end we all committed to 3 micro-actions we would take next.

3. Paul and I wrote a brief together for a small project for a group of our new apprentices to take forward: how might we creatively play back our internal customers’ experiences of our service so that we can use the insights to improve how we deliver those services. We’re trying to be clear about the ‘what’ we want to achieve so that we can leave the ‘how’ to the team who’ll deliver it. It was great to work with Paul on something practical that the apprentices can make their own.

4. I spoke at our senior leaders network meeting about our digital apprenticeship programme, alongside Alex who looks after Hackney’s overall apprenticeship programme. I was quite nervous – it’s a big room of senior people, some of whom I know but most I don’t yet. But – I was well prepared, and we have a really good story to tell so it went well.**


5. Our quarterly management meeting this week was great – a really good discussion about what we want to achieve in the next 3 months, and a chance to share what we’ve been working on with each other.

6. Final swim #8 of 8. I’ve really enjoyed it each week so – I’m setting myself a new goal: can I swim every week up until Xmas? That’s (only) 13 swims. . . .but it’s getting colder.

What I’m reading this week

I’m still reading Leadership on the Line, which is very good, and also a new novel by Tim Winton (also v good).

Tim Winton, The Shepherd’s Hut

* Jessica Brown will recognise this format, because I’ve basically taken and then built on the ace work she did at Acas 👍

**that is apart from my seeming inability to do simple maths whilst under pressure.

Weeknotes 24 – listening to teams


After a week away it was great to be back, and feel slightly less new. I caught up with what I’d missed whilst I was away, had a useful chat about how we’re approaching our thinking about benefits modelling, and a catch up with Stephen on his work around contracts and procurement. Esmay had sent through data on our apprentice applications whilst I was away — we’ve had a really good response to the recruitment campaign. Next steps is to shortlist and interview during August.


Matthew and I had a brilliant session with team members looking ahead to the next 6 months and generating ideas for projects/areas of work that we think we could be exploring with our colleagues in services. It was really useful for me to learn more about each service and the challenges we’re tackling.(1)

Rashmi organised an impressive food event and surprise baby shower — extremely delicious and an opportunity to chat to people I hadn’t met before.

so much yummy food . . .


I started my day with a swim at London Fields lido – a beautiful start to the day. My challenge to myself is — can I make time to do this once a week for the next 8 weeks?

We had our regular management team meeting where we discussed how we’re approaching development in the team — how do we change the conversation and focus from being about training courses (they’re important but not the whole picture) and widen it out so that we’re talking about development and learning in lots of ways.

London Fields on a sunny, but early, morning

This week I’ve been to several show and tells — all different in style and all interesting — today was with adult social care and FutureGov. It was a great example of a team that’s worked together to imagine a redesigned service for users.

Stuart from @futuregov in action


The next show and tell was for the Hackney Welcome project with Rainmaker Solutions — they’ve been looking at how we might make it easier for new residents to access the services they need easily. They shared some really interesting user research insight and data they’ve generated.

Next I went to a show and tell from Fatima about the work that she and her team do to support the Universal Housing system, and what the challenges are in the future. Each week there’s a quick briefing for someone/a team to share progress across the work they’re doing — a really good way to share learning and engage in what other teams are doing.

I also caught up with Christina Hammond-Aziz — we’re both in new roles and it was great to catch up on what’s happened since we last met, and talk about areas of mutual passion and interest. We’re both really interested in how we might support girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to have opportunities to experience tech roles so we’re going to put our heads together to see what we can do . . .

Unfortunately I then got stuck on the central line which was both deeply unpleasant (I think Dante wrote about this?) and meant it took over an hour and a half to get home . . .



Was a focus on the apprentice applications – looking over the shortlisted candidates and making sure we’re ready for interviews in August. I had a great conversation with colleagues about how we will manage the induction of apprentices when they arrive – we’re using a trello board to collaborate on how we will do this and generate ideas together.

What I read last week

I didn’t write weeknotes last week as I was away on holiday (2) but I did read some good books including Modern Gods by Nick Laird, and also these beauties arrived. Thankyou Doteveryone!

Women invent the future anthology

Rob Miller published our three month update to board on HackIT as part of our committment to working in the open. And Lindsay blogged about building an MVP and the importance of retros . . .

This from Gary at the apprenticeship service was really useful thinking about building digital capability

View at Medium.com

And finally this via Helen Bevan

What I listened to

View at Medium.com

I’ve long been a fan of Tom Cox’s writing – heartily recommend 21st Century Yokel and so thought I’d give his radio playlist a go. There’s a brilliant monologue in it about forgiving wasps . . .

What I’ve been struggling with this week

(1)This is a new section I’m trying – in the spirit of reflecting on personal challenges. 5 weeks into a new role I’m struggling this week with my own frustration at my incomplete mental map of the organisation – the sort of map you carry in your head when you’ve worked somewhere for a while. You know who’s who, how to get things done and what the best route is to get there. Luckily my new colleagues are both super helpful and patient with my questions and I’ve needed to remind myself that 5 weeks is still early days . . .

(2) Norway, hiking. Beautiful and breathtaking, plus I got to swim in the fjords #lifegoal