Weeknotes w/c 17 September 2018

This was a good week, with several opportunities to take a broader look at our direction and the steps we’re taking to develop our team and deliver the goals we’ve set.

On Monday we brought our HackIT leadership team together for a workshop to look at how we will embed the training and development strategy that we agreed through our recent restructure consultation. Our objective with this is to look beyond the standard clutch of courses and certificates that are typically the focus for training plans and think about the wider set of things we can do to help our people develop their skills and careers. Cate led this and we had a really great session which brought out a range of tangible micro-actions we agreed to commit to and some very positive suggestions for ways that the team can work together to move this part of our strategy forward. At one point I had to remind myself that half of the people in the room have only joined us in recent months – it was amazing how much it already felt like a well established team.

On Wednesday, Cate, Henry, Matthew and I visited Stoke Newington Town Hall for our latest quarterly away day. We use these days to look at our progress and spend time the areas of service development that we’ve been working on and I find it really helpful to have the opportunity step away from the other things that usually occupy our attention. Highlights for me were the work that Cate shared from her review of our governance approach – where we’re trying to make sure that we are getting the right balance so that we’re managing our service well and enabling agile delivery at pace; Cate and Matthew’s work looking at how we measure our service performance and the benefits of the work we’re delivering; and Matthew’s outline for ways we can work with other services to help them develop their transformation plans.

To wrap up the week, several of us joined LocalGovCamp in Birmingham where we got together with people from across local government to share ideas and experience. I was really pleased that this year we had the opportunity to share some of the work we’ve been doing at Hackney, with Emma presenting on our Planning applications work, Nic talking about our work to develop on the Pipeline platform which helps councils collaborate on projects together, and Rich showing the work we’ve been doing to develop a user research library that we hope will be useful for others as well as for our own work in Hackney.

This was my second LocalGovCamp, and I’m continuing to feel very happy with my decision to ditch most of the other conferences and events that I get invited to and use the time to learn together with peers, rather than listen to sales pitches.

This week’s intro meeting was an opportunity to chat with Riccardo our new Lead Front End Developer. Riccardo will be helping us to develop a consistent and user focused User Experience across our digital services and you can see his ace talk on the 5 Ws of Atomic Design here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7b1W47Fbng – I’d never have known that this was his first shot at public speaking! I also had fun taking new starters who were joining Hackney on a short tour of our main office campus at the start of the week, when it was my turn to be the senior manager welcome inductees to the Council.

Something I learned

We had a really good example yesterday showing how quickly we can get stuff done now that we have smarter tools for our work. Matthew started on a proposal while we were on the train up to Birmingham and we’d finished the process of Cate, Henry and me reviewing it and then getting feedback and the OK from my boss and the Mayor by 5pm. Local government often gets a reputation for slow and complex decision making. A shared doc and some speedy messaging demonstrated that that doesn’t have to be the case.