Weeknote w/c 26 November: positive indications that Agile is taking root

Embracing Agile

A couple of highlights of my week came from conversations that I had with directors responsible for other services at Hackney. These showed that the work we’re doing to introduce Agile delivery and user-centric, design led approaches is having a positive impact which is being reflected in colleagues’ expectations.

Hearing other directors articulating the benefits of APIs; thinking of digital services as ‘apps’ which work end-to-end, rather than just swapping one tired ‘integrated’ system for another; and moving away from traditional governance to more engaging models which empower teams to deliver was incredibly encouraging. In a few days we have a Senior Managers’ Network meeting which will include a number of briefings from service teams who will be showcasing innovative work they’re delivering (much of which includes the involvement of our team). I’m really looking forward to that!

(I also really enjoyed last Thursday’s HackIT strategy stand up, which was delivered by the people who took part in the Agile training course that Cate and Matthew ran over three half-days last week. It was another great example of how we are helping to shape the way that Hackney delivers change.)

Developing our strategic approach to technology

While we have made a deliberate decision not to have a ‘digital strategy’ we do need to make sure that we are being strategic in the way that we make our technology decisions.

On Friday we had our quarterly HackIT divisional management team away day. For this one we invited a number of other members of the team to join us and used most of the day to work through our approach to making technology decisions. We based this on Cate’s work to develop our governance framework, which is founded on principles of devolving decision making to the greatest extent possible and building a positive rhythm for our service management and delivery.

HackIT governance principles

Start with the press release – what is our governance framework called, who is it for and what will it help them do?

We worked through the end-to-end process of delivering a project, identifying how we currently make technology decisions and where this is already written down / codified and where that still needs to be done. We finished off by identifying a number of priority actions that we’ll be taking forward to develop this. We’re going to start with the hypothesis that the UK Government Technology Code of Practice will give us what we need as the basis for assessing our decisions and taking a consistent approach. We’ll test that together as a team and see whether we identify any areas where we think we need to add in additional guidance for HackIT teams to refer to.

Other things I got up to last week included:

  • Joining Henry for his presentation to Members, where he set out the thinking he’s been leading for our strategic approach to digital connectivity in Hackney. This went well and we’re hoping to get approval from Cabinet in mid-December.
  • Meeting some of the new people who joined Hackney this week, taking my turn to be the senior manager welcoming them to the Council as part of the corporate induction.
  • Attending a cross-local government cyber resilience strategy group and also the bi-monthly meeting for digital and technology leaders from across London’s councils.
  • Spending some time with some colleagues from children’s services looking at the presentation that they’re preparing for this week’s Senior Managers’ Network meeting to showcase how they’re using G Suite to make it easier for children’s services teams to access policy information and guidance wherever they are, from any device.
  • Meeting with Cate and colleagues in HR to get their feedback on the thinking we’re doing for our future approach to the way we provide mobile telephones at Hackney.
  • Working with Dawn and the Information Management team to test out the approach they’ve been developing to set up a consistent way for Exec Support teams to use Drive to support directors across the Council. (Principle 15 of the Local Government Digital Service Standard requires us to ‘Test the service from beginning to end with appropriate council member or senior manager responsible for it.’ https://localgov.digital/service-standard/point/test-with-senior-manager)

Something I’m learning

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well you might find

You get what you need

One of the discussions I was part of this week didn’t go quite the way I was hoping. But I think that the outcome might actually be better for that, so that’s OK.