Weeknotes S1
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Weeknotes S1

S1: #2 -risk, people and technology

It’s been a good week although the dreaded hay fever has struck! I am having to navigate my weekly shop trying not to sneeze and getting tackled to the ground and forcibly quarantined on COVID-19 related grounds 😊 Things with the new grants programme have picked up even more pace and I am amazed and proud at how far we have come in such a short space of time…

What’s been going on?

Risk management

I have been working closely with Gill Riches, the Director of Programmes at the British Science Association (BSA), who has overall responsibility for the new grants programme. There are not many days that go by that we don’t speak, which is great, as she is my first point of contact to bounce ideas off and ask those basic questions you have when you start working in a new organisation. This week we spent time focusing on identifying risks and mitigations for the programme, having the usual debates around things like what is a risk? Next week I will be translating what we come up with into the following statement format from ISACA:

I find it is the most straight forward way to help me order my thoughts when it comes to risk management.

Salesforce contract

Mid-week we finalised our contract with Hyphen8 to make a start on the development of Salesforce. Hyphen8 has significant experience in the grant-making sector and we were impressed by their in-house developed grantFlex Salesforce plug-in, specifically designed to fast-track grant management system implementations. I’m also excited to be working with Angela Murray again- we both worked at the National Lottery Community Fund when Angela headed up the Service Design team and was overseeing the implantation of Salesforce. Angela joined Hyphen8 a few months ago.

Introducing Beth

Beth Sturdee — Communications Manager

This week, Beth Sturdee (Communications Manager) has come back from furlough and will be working on the grants programme with me, which I am excited about. She will be the internal lead on the brand design and strategic comms work. Our one-hour induction lasted nearly two but we really got under the skin of the grants programme — what we are trying to achieve and how we are going about it. Beth has fantastic experience at the BSA with targeted communications work to reach new audiences but also previously working in brand development for health charities.

Relational meetings training

My colleague Ivvet (Head of Engagement) who leads on community engagement at BSA set up a training session with Citizens UK about relational meetings. It a format for having one-to-one meetings over a set period of time to foster common ground, understand each other better and ultimately enact change in their communities. We had an intro to the work of Citizen’s UK, a chat about our experiences of having more deeper connected conversations with people, the principles behind relational meetings and then, we got to try it out ourselves. Using this approach led to some interesting and different conversations and I could really see how this can lead to better public engagement in a whole range of issues.

Business as usual stuff

There was lots of business as usual activity. I spent time reprofiling the rest of the development period budget now that we have contractors in place. Those who know me know I love a spreadsheet. I think I like the fact that the figures either balance or they don’t — there is no grey area! I was also drafting a management report for BSA Council in a few weeks’ time and reflecting on the various internal developments needed to deliver the new grants programme. For example, updating our safeguarding policy in light of being a grant maker, as well adapting delegated authority levels which were originally developed for operational spend rather than grant-making. The new grants programme aspires to be flexible, responsive and relational where decisions take place closer to the communities they serve, therefore controls and delegated authority need reflect this. So, I would love to hear from anyone who has grappled with this and is happy to chat. Please do get in touch

Trello and Big Picture

And then there is Trello — my life is on Trello! I love it! I am using it as the project management tool for the new grants programme with all our funding and delivery partners as members of the board. This week I’ve been playing about with the Big Picture plug-in which enables you to see the project on a Gantt chart — I think I need to look up some more YouTube videos to make the most of it.

Reflections/ learnings of the week

Staffing contingency

This week one of the key members of our Project Team from TSIP was off sick and we had some key sessions to be delivered they were leading on. Luckily, TSIP (leading the service design work) has a whole team of people working closely on this project so it was easy for another team member to step up and take over. It really showed the value of the work not being solely dependent on one person on a project with such tight timescales. But it has also made me consider what other mitigations need to be in place across the workflow to ensure that the show can go if any other key members are not available for whatever reason. The main risk right now is probably me! It has prompted me to rethink when to bring onboard some additional support from the project within BSA before we are able to recruit the whole team.

Partners, interdependencies, and complexity

This week Red Stone joined as our brand development agency. Like Hyphen8, Red Stone has significant experience of working with grant makers. What has really struck me is that going from two to three delivery partners has increased the complexity of the project management side of things significantly. There are now increased interdependencies that flow all over the place, including back to BSA and Wellcome. It now means that the interdependencies need to be known and the project plan on Trello needs to be accurate and monitored more closely than before.

Theory of Change workshop

On Friday, TSIP facilitated a session with Wellcome and BSA colleagues around Theory of Change. TSIP provided some initial insights from the first few co-design workshops (more in this in the coming next weeks) and we reviewed BSA’s original Theory of Change for the grants programme. A few immediate reflections from me:

  • A zoom session on a Friday afternoon on a topic as meaty as Theory of Change was probably not a great idea. I have started to block out at least half an hour before long zoom meetings to give myself a break but there is something about Friday afternoons after a long week that is just a struggle for a lot of people.
  • We used Miro, on online platform which helps people collaborate ‘sticky note’ style. This was new to a lot of people and I think it ended up being a participation barrier for some. We had two breakout groups who used it differently — the first where everyone wrote their own ‘sticky notes’ and the second, where someone made notes on behalf of everyone on the Miro board. My initial reaction is that the latter worked better in this particular occasion. In the co-design workshops where Miro has been used, the first approach was adopted and that seemed to work really well. I have spoken to others who have adopted the second approach. They suggested it is most effective when you work with groups over a period of time and maybe start using it on something that is less important which lets people get used to it.
  • I always find that I get stuck on developing Theories of Change when it gets to the macro ‘impacts’ part of the model but TSIP uses a great approach to help focus your mind. They use an ‘accountability line’ which identifies the line between the what you have control over and that which you hope to contribute towards but it outside of your control.
  • The main question is are we missing anything? From Friday’s session, TSIP will be pulling together the input from this session and the co-design sessions to date to review with co-design participants on Thursday. This will then be circulated to Wellcome and BSA for further debate with a view to ending up with an agreed Theory of Change over the next few weeks. The reason it is so important is that it will impact on the design of the prototypes which we hope to have drafted by the end of June.

So, watch this space… I will be sharing how we are getting on with this over the next few weeks.

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