Weeknote w/c 27 May: sunshine, apprenticeships and a trip to De Beauvoir

A bank holiday and some summery weather have made for a good end to May.

Apprenticeships and LOTI

I spent some time with Cate discussing the preparations for the workshop that she’s leading next week, where we will be kicking off plans to scale up digital apprenticeships as part of the London Office of Technology and Innovation (which will officially launch next Monday). I’m incredibly proud of our digital apprenticeship programme here in Hackney and am really excited that we have the opportunity to work with colleagues in some of our partner boroughs to join up our focus on apprenticeships. Things we are hoping to achieve include:

  • A joint commitment to a significant digital apprenticeship programme as part of LOTI (the working ambition is to have at least 100 apprenticeships, including the 20 we have here in Hackney)
  • A strong network for apprentices and managers, helping with guidance, mutual support and developing new ideas for ways that we can make the apprenticeship experience as rewarding as possible
  • Using this larger scale to develop new opportunities to link in with other employers and training providers
  • And working together to open up the technology sector to a wider set of people, helping to improve diversity across our profession

On Wednesday, Cate and I met with Cllr Williams, Hackney’s Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources who will be opening our workshop, to brief her on the agenda. We’re all really looking forward to meeting up with our partner boroughs to move this forward.

A visit to De Beauvoir and Queensbridge

I had my latest ‘Let’s Network Hackney’ meeting on Wednesday morning and went to the Neighbourhood Housing Office in De Beauvoir and Queensbridge to meet up with a colleague in the team there. I really like the ‘Let’s Network Hackney’ scheme because it’s a great opportunity to meet with people who I wouldn’t normally get to spend time with and find out more about the work that teams across the Council are doing. If you haven’t already signed up then check it out here: http://intranet.hackney.gov.uk/lets-network [internal link].

This visit was especially rewarding because it showed lots of examples of where the work our teams are doing is helping colleagues in other services deliver great services for our residents. This included confirmation that the hard work that’s been put into making Universal Housing more reliable is delivering results, with fewer issues of the system crashing or grinding to a halt; good examples of where the new digital services that we’re developing along with housing are making it easier to find information and get updates to tasks; and some really good work where the team are using G Suite to help them access the information they need wherever they are. There were also lots of creative ideas for ways that the team would like to use tech and data with their work in the future and I left the office with a spring in my step!

Other highlights from last week were:

  • My regular catch up with the Mayor (in his role as our Cabinet portfolio lead), updating him on our service performance and the progress we’re making across the work we’re delivering
  • Meeting with Kim (Group Director, Neighbourhoods and Housing) to look at the work we’re doing to support her directorate and Tim (our Chief Exec) checking in on work across our team and the corporate Business Intelligence team to help senior managers have greater visibility of data across their services
  • A very productive conversation with Dawn, Marian, Ollie and Paul to look at ways we can help colleagues in other corporate services make it easier for people across the Council to work with corporate document templates
  • A great conversation that Cate and I had with Jane Fallon from the West Midlands Combined Authority where we compared our experiences of working together to encourage collaboration between councils – including the work in London to set up LOTI
  • And a session with NHS and social care colleagues looking at priority areas for focus in digital transformation across our regional health and care partnership

Something I’m learning

Moving my blog back onto WordPress and bringing my weeknotes and longer form blog posts together in one place has inspired me to write a bit more than I have for a while (I’ve written as many blog posts in May as I did for all of last year). I’m remembering that I like putting thoughts down in writing and using that as a way to explore some of the ideas I’m thinking about. Sometimes, however, I make it harder by worrying about who’s going to read it and whether what I’m writing has any intrinsic value. A few of the things I’ve found useful to remember when the doubts set in are:

  • It’s ok to write for your own satisfaction – sometimes it’s just a good exercise to use this to test out your own thinking
  • It can be just as helpful to pose questions as to suggest answers
  • Having historic posts is a useful way to see how my thinking is developing over time
  • It’s very rewarding when peers elsewhere pick up a thought and it starts a conversation
  • And it’s also nice to hear when something I’ve written has encouraged someone to try out different approaches in their own context
  • I also find it useful to run a draft by someone I trust to see what they think if I’m not sure whether I should post it