Weeknotes out in the wild…

We appear to be stepping boldly into a brave new world where we publish our week notes in the open *, so not wanting to be left behind I’ve popped this up on Medium too.

Highlights from last week

  • The week began with welcoming Cate Mclaurin to our team. I’m really pleased to see our new colleagues coming on board to help us crack on with the next stage of the work we’re doing, and I’m very much looking forward to working with Cate and learning from her experience in central government and ACAS.
  • Our office became a film studio twice last week. On Tuesday we produced a short set of clips which featured several of our people talking about what it’s like to be part of the HackIT team — we’ll be releasing the video this week to support our apprentice recruitment. And on Friday afternoon the Mayor was filmed in our meet and greet space for a video statement setting out Hackney’s support for digital collaboration across local government. (Watch out for more about this later in the week…!)
  • We’ve had lots of interest in our apprenticeship programme, and I’ve had several calls over the last week to share more of the background to that with colleagues elsewhere. I talked through the background (as per my recent blog post: https://blogs.hackney.gov.uk/hackit/delivering-digital-change-for-the-long-term-with-apprenticeships) and shared more details about the roles that we’re recruiting to. So far the feedback has been very positive so I’m now even more aware of the pressure on us to make sure that the programme is a success!
  • I’ve also been having follow up conversations with the people who took part in our Mayor’s Digital Advisory panel a few weeks ago. I’m using these to gather their ideas for how we can develop this and use it to help guide our digital direction for Hackney.
  • Thursday was our quarterly Divisional Management Team away day, where we set aside time to discuss some of the bigger picture issues and opportunities that we need to think through. I find these very useful sessions and we covered some important topics that we’ll be focusing on over the coming months.
  • I have regular catch ups with other directors and at the end of the day on Thursday afternoon Lucy and I caught up with Sarah, our Director of Children’s Services. I was very pleased to hear the positive feedback from Sarah about her teams’ move to our new productivity tools last week and it was particularly encouraging to spend the time discussing how they’ll be able to use these to work in more flexible and collaborative ways. We talked about how we can share learning from the changes we’ve made to our ways of working in ICT and how we might provide topic based support and advice sessions for Sarah’s teams to help them explore new ideas for their service.
  • We’re hard at work preparing for the procurement of our new end-user devices and I was pleased to see that we’ve been able to make a significant saving on licencing through good timing and smart procurement. We’ll be doing the work to buy hardware soon, but before we do that we’re making sure that we dig in deeper to understand user needs — particularly to help us figure out where teams’ working styles would make laptops the best option and where flexible desktop access would be the better fit. Designing this through working with users is a really important part of our commitment to follow the Local Government Digital Service Standard: https://localgov.digital/service-standard/point/understand-user-needs.
  • Delivering up to date software tools and hardware is only part of the changes that we’re making to help modernise our workplace at Hackney. Equally important is helping colleagues think through how they can best use these to manage their information effectively and this is another area where understanding user needs and learning together is really important. We know that introducing whole organisation level file plans is very difficult and is often a poor fit with the way that services work, so on Friday Anita and I spent time catching up with the Exec Support and Mayor’s Office teams getting up to speed with the good progress that they’re making and helping to identify areas where we can provide additional support.
  • I wrapped up the week with a conversation with some colleagues in HR planning ahead to a presentation that we’ll be giving together at next week’s Senior Manager Network meeting. This was a good opportunity to show how we can use video meetings to meet up quickly without all needing to be in the same place at the same time. It worked really well and we were able to agree the way forward in a brief meeting, rather than lots of emails having to go back and forth.

Something I’ve learned this week

I’ve been taking time to check in with people who’ve moved over to our new productivity tools to see how they’re getting on. I find it useful to make sure that I’ve got a good understanding of how changes that we’re delivering are bedding in and have never liked the notion that senior managers shouldn’t make the time to understand detail. While it is important to have a big picture view I think that needs to be connected with the reality ‘on the ground’ too, as otherwise it’s easy to make decisions without understanding the potential implications. I’ve realised that I need to make sure I explain that, as quite a few people have been surprised that I thought it was a useful use of my time to spend half an hour with them looking at how they’re using their email.

All the best,


* Cate got there first (by many weeks!): https://medium.com/@cate.mclaurin/weeknotes-20-week-1-being-new-being-welcomed-a134aec8ef45 and Matthew’s made the leap this week too: https://medium.com/@mcaino/week-notes-v2-0-969645acac80.