Week beginning 9 October
It would be wonderful to be celebrating a draw against West Brom right now. It was the week I feared, but for different reasons. Sunday night somewhat set the tone for what followed.
I didn’t deviate too far from my goals for the week. I just didn’t do quite enough to actually accomplish them. I organised a set of meetings so that I could get closer to the training for housing repairs, but didn’t actually identify an opportunity to make it more efficient. I didn’t make any progress towards making our customer journey tools reusable. We almost have an agreed paper for the procurement committee, but I wasn’t able to resolve a couple of approvals before the end of the week. Zoe led a team to compile a Trello board capturing how to develop I Need Help. …
Week beginning 28 September
I’ve refreshed the Trello board, summarising the key priorities for our teams between now until Christmas. I’ve managed to have slightly fewer commitments, in keeping with my advice to the team. And I’m getting more comfortable with setting clearer targets.
This week was about finishing things. There’s not a fibre of my being which is built to do that. I don’t enjoy it. I’m not particularly good at. But we’ve got so many different things nearly done (and lots of other things started), it was the only responsible thing to do.
I succeeded, to a point. But the achievements were mostly the teams rather than mine. Thanks to Kamran we’ve got the new customer satisfaction survey. Thanks to Abdul, Lloyd and other managers we’ve got new codes to understand better the time we’re spending away from the phones. Thanks to Nanette and Judith our procurement for the out of hours customer services is now running. And a large group has come together under Felix’s facilitation to finish setting-up the system to distribute the test and trace support grant. …
Week beginning 21 September
My goals for the week lasted until 10.40am on Monday morning. It was remarkable they lasted that long.
I published my last weeknote at about 8pm on Sunday night, because I’d been struggling to commit to my goals – and laid low by swollen tonsils. About 30 minutes later, I learned that councils were to distribute the £500 test and trace support grant for people financially affected by self isolation. And listening to the customer services team managers in the Monday morning meeting it became apparent that we didn’t have capacity to test callbacks.
By 4.30pm on Friday afternoon, however, it was clear that we’re ready to accept applications for the new grant. There are a couple of details that we’re waiting on from central government. But given residents are already calling us and asking if they can apply, it’s good to be ready. We designed the customer journeys, the online form, the verification process, the payment process and call centre training by Thursday. And we’d done a briefing for the Cabinet sub committee, too. …
Week beginning 14 September
It was one of those weeks where at the end, I couldn’t remember the start. But somewhere in between those two points, we got some stuff done. It’s tempting to explain what all of those things were, because it was such a range. but the note would be intolerably long and not interesting enough for my reader (Hi, Kelly).
If I was being brutal, I was close to achieving my goals but not close enough. We have a spec and selection criteria for out of hours, but not yet the agreement of colleagues. We have a plan to improve some parking customer journeys but the brief hasn’t been agreed. …
Week beginning 7 September
This was the first week in ‘how long?’ where I was presenting ideas and proposals to senior people that I’d spent some time developing; the sort of meeting which involves adrenaline, followed by fatigue afterwards. How I’ve missed that!
We almost met all my goals for the week – some of the team were trained in track and trace towards the end of the week. We’re probably a few days away from the new customer satisfaction survey being live; and we have a plan for telecare but it hasn’t had enough scrutiny yet. But it doesn’t feel fair to claim any credit for this, because the progress had very little to do with me. …
Week beginning 1 September
I carried forward the three goals that I’d set myself for the previous week. As I’d only worked less than half that week it felt more responsible than setting some fresh targets.
I was really pleased to come into the service centre on Wednesday and hear that we’ve resolved some of the challenges that residents had when they were attending to meet someone or collect something. …
Week beginning 17 August
I’m trying a different format for my weeknote, based around a Trello board. Some of the teams I’m responsible for already work together frequently, like registrars and customer services. But I wanted to show everyone where we can work together to help deliver for our residents.
The board shows the objectives of the services I’m responsible for, how that breaks down into the results we’d like to achieve in the quarter, the projects that will help us get there and what that means for my focus each week.
But it’s also designed to help me get better at setting targets: expressing them clearly, working consistently towards them and committing to them rather than other things that may come along. …
The next step in digital government maturity is a rational relationship with the private sector
The Ministry of Justice talked publicly this week about its form builder tool, sparking debate about the prospects it could develop into a generic, reusable capability for departments and other public bodies to build high quality web forms. It’s easy to imagine how this could accelerate and scale digital government following in the footsteps of GOV.UK Notify and, to a lesser extent, GOV.UK Pay. Most of government is forms, most of the time, as Matt Edgar once observed.
Development of a generic tool would likely produce an equal and opposite reaction. Some projects would use the forms solution because it has the GOV.UK association. Others wouldn’t yet because they’d consider it inferior to existing solutions. Incumbent providers of (Granicus, Jadu, IEG4, Netcall to name but some) will be cornered into a fight or flight strategy. Both camps would criticise the other’s choices. And after several years, patient marketing and investment in spurts, a core part of government technology infrastructure may emerge. And the world (ok, bits of the UK public sector) might have better looking, more usable forms. …
Week beginning 27 July
I wasn’t going to write a weeknote this week. I’ve had a week back after a short break, and am now off for two further weeks. But there were enough things this week in which I was sufficiently interested, that I wanted to record them.
I’m experimenting with a new way of sharing what we’re doing across the services for which I’m responsible, how (if) that relates to what I’m focusing on each week and the things that are important but not (yet) urgent. …
Week beginning 14 July
This week wasn’t quite the purposeful 10 day charge that I’d envisaged on Saturday. Instead it felt like five shades of grey. Nothing too bad, but nothing to get excited about. By the end of the week I’d completed many of the things I’d written on my task list for the previous weekend. And built a different task list for this weekend.
My history professor first told me that I was motivated by having influence. When I joined Hackney, Rob’s message was to invest in relationships – go slower to go further. During lockdown the most pleasure came from seeing different people and teams come together to help vulnerable residents in a consistent way. …