Weeknote w/c 1 July: hacking a bit of bureaucracy

Bureaucracy Hack

Wednesday saw the first OneTeamGov Bureaucracy Hack take place at the Tomlinson Centre. I was pleased to have the opportunity to join the event and meet up with a wide range of public servants from across central and local government (and also some folk from the supplier community) who wanted to look for ways that we can make it easier to get things done within our organisations.

I joined the team looking at business cases and the difficulties that have to be overcome when developing those (both in general and also specifically in an Agile environment). It was interesting to hear the challenges that are experienced across the group, and it helped remind me that local government can be relatively simple compared to central government, where teams need to consider approval by other parts of government such as the Treasury and GDS when they’re developing business cases.

I have to confess that I was one of the people who were only able to stay for the morning, but we resolved to make sure that we had completed a thing before the break at lunch and we managed to pull together this prototype guide for how to publish business cases in the open: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GC6kBBL_I6-dFJBIxveVtN_5dfHzYdxJJMLoONtPw84/edit?usp=sharing. The hypothesis for this is that by making it easier to discover other business cases, teams across government will have an improved prospect of success and the quality of business cases (and the process of reviewing them for approval) will improve. It’s definitely a bit rough around the edges still, but it was an enjoyable, fast paced piece of work and I was pleased to learn about some new resources, such as the Open Contracting Data Standard and some helpful myth busting advice on dealing with commercial confidentiality (http://mythbusting.open-contracting.org).

Communicating data protection

On Thursday, Sarah mentioned some concerns about services not being sufficiently aware of the need to report potential data breaches to us immediately (there are strict timelines we need to stick to if any breaches need to be reported to the ICO). We’ve made great progress with the Data Awareness Training that we’ve been rolling out but it’s important to be thinking about ongoing communication and awareness raising too.

I was impressed by the speed at which this developed from identifying a need for action to an impressive set of communications messages, produced collaboratively with input from comms and other colleagues in our team. Sarah’s produced a set of business card sized reminders, supported by stickers that we’ll be putting on all of our ‘Grab n Go’ Chromebooks, which set out clear and simple messages with links to supporting guidance. You can see the full set here: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1EAdly–_l8XVLg6_uQWA8uV_FkwQFV5t.

The business cards will be distributed at the Leaders’ Conference events which are starting this week. A big thank you to Colin, Tony and the team in the Print Unit for their speedy help – the proofs were back in under a couple of hours of sending them the images for printing!

Other highlights from last week were:.

  • A useful update on the ‘Beyond eDOCS’ work. We focused most of the session on work for an MVP for HR documents and will be catching up on progress in a couple of weeks time.
  • I joined the Hackney Management Team (HMT) / Cabinet meeting to look at the budget setting process for next year. An important part of that will be the Member led Customer Services board that we are helping to set up, and Matthew shared some very positive updates from the pre-meets he’s been having ahead of the first meeting which is due to take place soon. We’re hoping that we can use this as a lever to further develop ambition for using technology and data as part of designing services for our residents.
  • On Tuesday I joined HMT to provide an update on the work that Liz and the Data & Insight team have been doing, as part of a broader conversation about how we are using data to understand and lead change in the Council. I was very pleased to see the recognition of the contribution that the team’s work is having, especially when one person expressed surprise at the breadth of work included in the update – apparently, the support that Liz and team have been providing felt so responsive that they’d thought the team was working exclusively for their service areas!
  • I had a helpful follow up with colleagues in finance on the work we’ve been doing to make arrangements for investment funding (I’ve mentioned previously that we need to shift some of this from capital to revenue). I think I’m clear about what needs doing now and hopefully this will be completed soon.
  • And on Thursday, Matthew and I met with Cara and Eoin, who are Strategic Business Managers supporting HMT, to discuss ways that we can collaborate more closely. We identified that there’s real potential for us to work together to help services maximise the benefits that they get from cross-cutting work such as the workplace technology improvements we’ve been delivering. And we also agreed to set up a Hangout group along with our Relationship Management team to help provide rapid answers to questions that come up in management team meetings.

Something I’m learning

I’ve realised that I use something a bit like the Amazon ‘start with the press release’ technique in my personal life as a technique for strengthening my resolve when I’m committing to doing something that I might otherwise be too lazy to see through.

This week I used this to encourage myself to run into work on Thursday morning (just over 10k). I actually found it an enjoyable way to start the day and am pleased with the progress I’ve made since my initial wheezy jogs around my local park just over two years ago.

It was also nice to have this view to mark the halfway point!