Weeknote w/c 27 April: more focus on how we work, both now and in the future

This was a good week. We’ve made progress with some important pieces of work and my Weeknotes have successfully joined my (less frequently updated) blog in a shiny new home.

How to HackIT

On Wednesday a group of us got together for a follow up session on the ‘How to HackIT’ guides we’re developing. This worked very well and we broke out into pairs to peer review one another’s work and by the end of 90 minutes we had published five new guides online. You can find them here: http://hackit.org.uk/how-we-work/how-to-hackit.

This growing collection of guides is designed to provide a light touch set of protocols we can follow across our teams to help us with the consistency and rhythm of our work, in line with our governance principles. By making the guides open on the web we can also help other teams elsewhere (and get feedback which will help us improve), help new starters understand how we work before they join our team and also help suppliers who will be working with us make sure that they’re prepared.

We’ve agreed five more guides that we will prioritise and are going to try to have those ready to publish in two to three weeks’ time.


An important part of developing our service is looking at our system management practices to make sure that we are developing and supporting new digital services well. This is an important challenge and as well as introducing new ways of working it involves technologies which are relatively new to us and will also require new skills. It touches on all aspects of our work, from designing, developing and delivering change through to running and supporting our systems and services.

On Monday afternoon Peter and I visited the Ministry of Justice, where we met with Tom Read their Chief Digital Officer to see what we can learn from their experience of similar changes. I was reassured to find that they’re asking very similar questions to the ones we’re considering and we took away some useful ideas and lessons which will help us with the work here.

On Thursday the team from Digi2al, under the guidance of Felix who joined our delivery team this week, began their discovery work which will help shape the way we take this forward. It’s good to be starting this with a discovery, because  it’s a complex and important area and we need to make sure that we understand the different dimensions and how we will link in across different teams before we set out any detailed plans for the work.

As I said at Thursday lunchtime’s strategy stand up, I would strongly encourage everyone across the team to take time to keep in touch with this work through their Show & Tells, Weeknotes and joining the Slack channel that Felix has set up. This project will be very important in defining how we do large parts of our work in future and your involvement will help us make sure we do that well.

Other highlights from last week were:

  • On Monday I took part in a training day for the people who part of the Council’s ‘Gold’ rota (being on call as ‘Gold’ means you are the Council’s designated lead for any emergency planning responses over a week long shift every couple of months). It was a useful day and a good reminder of the responsibilities which come with this role.
  • On Wednesday I joined the show and tell delivered by the team who are working on delivering web based single sign on for our systems and services. This was a useful update and helped me understand the team’s progress and the trade offs that will need to be considered when their current assessment work completes.
  • The Spacebank team have been making good progress looking at how we might make it easier for residents and local groups to book rooms in the Council’s libraries (the area that they’re focusing on for this phase). On Thursday I joined them for an update with Cllr Kennedy and Cllr Selman, the Cabinet leads for this work, and it was great to see that the team’s progress was well received.
  • Next week we have a workshop to agree the priority protects for LOTI (the London Office of Technology and Innovation which will formally launch very soon). On Thursday I had a pre-meet phone call to talk through some of the questions we’ll be looking at and offer my thoughts on how we might make sure that LOTI gets off to a good start.

Something I’m learning

I decided that I wanted to bring my blog and Weeknotes together, and I also decided that it was a good time to look at other publishing platforms rather than Medium, as I’ve been getting annoyed with some of Medium’s ‘features’ and am wondering whether the direction they’re taking is a good thing for online publishing. I was pleased to find that it was fairly straightforward to move everything over to WordPress and was chuffed that I managed to fathom out the DNS changes needed so that it works using my own domain. This wasn’t massively complex once I’d worked it out but it was outside of my technical comfort zone so it felt rewarding to make it work!