Weeknote w/c 18 November: another gong for HackIT!

APIs and awards

The highlight of my week was hearing that Rashmi, Selwyn and Matt were bringing back another HackIT award! The Dev team’s work on APIs as microservices won the iNetwork award for innovation, recognising the team’s contribution to changing the way that we deliver digital local services fit for the internet age:

Our work on APIs is a key foundation block for our future digital services. Through this work we’ll be able to accelerate the pace of improvement, deliver technology that better meets user needs, and reduce our reliance on legacy technology and suppliers. It’s something that I’ve felt passionate about for many years (https://bytherye.com/2014/04/06/an-applications-strategy-fit-for-digital/) and it’s so exciting to see our team’s progress in bringing this to life.


Our strategy show & tell was presented by Soraya, who’s been leading work to look at how we can make sure that we are continuing to hire great people to join our team, and Mark from the recruitment team. Soraya has done a great job of working with recruitment colleagues to help us look at how we can introduce changes to the application process which will make it easier for applicants and hiring managers. This is an important component of our mission to continue to develop ‘A curious, expert team promoting Hackney’s values’.

Some of the changes that we are introducing include:

  • Clearer summary information for job ads on the Council’s recruitment site: https://recruitment.hackney.gov.uk/
  • Simpler ways for candidates to demonstrate that they meet the mandatory requirements for roles that they’re applying for
  • Automated import of details from candidate’s CVs (don’t forget to let Soraya know if you can help us test this to make sure that we’re confident it works reliably!)
  • ‘Name blind’ recruitment, which was an important commitment from our recent inclusion conversations (https://blogs.hackney.gov.uk/hackit/thinking-and-acting-inclusively)

I also…

  • Took part in the inclusive leadership training that is being delivered for all senior managers across the Council on Monday. The session worked well and prompted lots of useful conversations with peers in other services. I also liked that these are being co-delivered by inclusion champions from across different service teams, which helped us to have an engaging and valuable morning.
  • Had my regular catch up with representatives from the Council’s unions. We talked about ways that we are helping to make it easier for field based staff to access ‘cautionary contact’ information to help them stay safe when they visit residents, and also the proposed changes we’re developing for mobile phone arrangements. There were a few aspects of the latter where we didn’t entirely agree, so we’ve arranged to take a bit more time to work through the discussion points together in a few weeks time.
  • Joined the steering group that oversees our work to help improve the technology that housing services use. We had a good discussion about the progress that’s being made to help link data up so that the Council can provide more joined up services for our tenants and leaseholders, with agreement that we’ll do a Discovery phase to help us understand how we can further develop that.
  • Had our monthly ‘Delivery’ focused divisional management team meeting, where Cate, Henry, Matthew and I checked in on key areas of work across our teams and discussed areas where we can best focus our time to support the work that teams are doing.
  • Spent some time with Paul helping develop the model we’re using to assess some important software licencing options. I love a good spreadsheet, so quite enjoyed this as the start to my day…!
  • Had my regular catch up with Ajman, interim Group Director for Neighbourhoods & Housing. Ajman shared some of the feedback he’d had at the recent staff conferences in housing services and we talked through the links with work that we are doing together through the technology modernisation programme. It was also good to hear Ajman’s reflections on how the collaboration between our teams in Hackney and the responsiveness of our support compares favourably to his experience of working with ICT functions elsewhere.
  • Joined a debrief session to discuss lessons learned from the recent major floods in the north of the borough. The Council’s contribution supporting residents affected by the flood worked very well and we identified some useful learning points that we can use to develop the way we manage major incidents in future.

Something I’m learning

I had my cycling training session at the end of the day on Wednesday. I’ve been feeling fairly confident and having done an advanced driving qualification some years ago I think my awareness of other traffic and pedestrians is reasonably good. But the session was still really useful and I learned lots of very useful stuff about road positioning and ways to make sure that I’m cycling in a way that is helping to keep me safe and be considerate of others. I’d definitely recommend taking up the opportunity (it’s free for all staff and available from beginner to advanced levels: http://intranet.hackney.gov.uk/cycle-training-levels-1-2/) and am planning to go back for a follow up in the new year.

I also learned the great sadness that comes from having a puncture halfway through a ride on Thursday. Fortunately, I found a local cycle shop who sorted it, but I ended up an hour late for the meeting I was heading to which annoyed me.