Weeknote w/c 16 September: a late night wake up call and doing the hard work to make a success of collaboration

It’s now just under three weeks until the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I think that my training is on track, but the team I’m running with are still some way off our sponsorship goal. All donations towards the important work that Lambeth & Southwark Mind do to promote positive mental health will be very gratefully received! https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=CommunitasTrustRunners&isTeam=true

A busy shift on the GOLD duty

Tuesday was an unusual day. I began my day at two minutes past midnight with a call from the Council’s emergency planning team to tell me about a fire at a block of flats in Clapton (https://news.hackney.gov.uk/update-fire-at-harry-zeital-way/). The Council’s role in a situation like this is to support the emergency services and to help the local community affected by the fire. This response is led by the emergency planning team, who send people to the scene whatever the hour and coordinate activity from their main control base. They’re supported by officers from across the Council’s teams and in this case the response included colleagues from Adults’ Social Care, Communications, Housing Needs and Environmental Services – illustrating the breadth of services that the Council provides for our residents.

As the person on GOLD duty I had the strategic responsibility for the Council’s response, including making sure that the necessary resources were being made available where needed. It’s a slightly strange experience because as GOLD you’re not on the scene and the people doing the real work are some distance away. Fortunately, the emergency planning lead kept me well informed throughout and I was able to get a clear picture of how the fire had impacted the residents of the block and what needed to be done to provide them with shelter as well as the accommodation arrangements that needed to be coordinated once the immediate incident had been dealt with by the fire service.

I was very glad to hear that the fire service had been able to make sure that all of the residents were safely evacuated from the block and that the damage to the building was largely contained. But that still left many families unable to return to their homes overnight, with some of them having to find alternative places to stay for the following night too and some who won’t be able to return home for some time while repairs take place.

Reflecting on this when my shift ended on Thursday afternoon I was proud to be part of an organisation with people who are so committed to supporting our residents. I was also incredibly impressed by the support that came forward from the local community, including help with temporary shelter and donations of toys for children whose homes were affected. I thought that was an important reminder of the good that people can do for one another.

Not the usual work of an IT manager, but definitely something that made me feel good about my job.

London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) workshop

On Friday morning, I joined the rest of the core LOTI group to catch up on the progress we’ve made with our initial set of projects and agree the projects from the recent call for ideas that the LOTI team carried out. I won’t rewrite the excellent summary that Onyeka in the LOTI team wrote up in their weeknote (https://medium.com/loti/week-10-choosing-our-next-projects-715c3323b218), but there were some aspects which I thought were worth reflecting on.

The recap on the progress we’ve made so far served as a useful reminder of the challenges that are presented by collaborative working. I found it useful to talk through how we can best juggle the competing demands of local priorities and the shared commitments we’ve made together. And it was also interesting to hear how work that seems fairly easy when the ICT skills we need are part of an in-house team (as is the case in Hackney) can be much more tricky when those services are delivered by an outsourced provider.

The new project that I’m most excited about is looking at how we can align the different projects that teams across the LOTI councils are doing to explore ways that assistive technology can support independent living. I think that this could be a really good example of where coming together through LOTI can make a real difference, getting the most from collaboration while minimising the complexity that often comes with that. By developing a common approach to these experiments with new technology I’m hopeful that we can massively increase the benefits we each get by making sure that the learning can be shared effectively.

I also…

  • Joined Jasmeen and Soraya for a useful discussion with colleagues in Housing Services to work through a question that has been proving tricky. We were able to use this time to find what feels like a practical way forward and it was good to be thinking that through together, drawing on our collective experience and expertise.
  • Held another of the discussion groups that I mentioned in last week’s note. This was another great conversation which echoed many of the points raised at the previous week’s sessions but also added in new ideas to consider.
  • Had my bi-monthly update with the Mayor where I brought him up to speed with the work we’re doing across our team (you can read the briefing that I took the Mayor through here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ct1jOiWKDX7rZOB_ceDw_MiTOEQO417dxH1JGwjNNsg)
  • Wrapped up my week catching up with colleagues from another council outside of London. This prompted some really interesting thoughts about how we might work together more closely by sharing the work we’ve been doing to design new digital services. I’ll be following that up to see what might be possible.

Something I’ve learned

The discussion groups are proving a useful way to get closer to the work that people are doing across our team and hear about their experiences. While I always try to make sure that I’m not hidden away in an office, it’s a good reminder of how important it is to always be looking for new ways to learn more from colleagues and make sure that I don’t become complacent.