Weeknote w/c 25 November: working in the open and LOTI progress

Reflections on working in the open

Henry is currently leading some work to refresh our ‘HackIT Manifesto’ so that we can make sure that it continues to provide a useful guide for the way that we work together across our team. I took a little time to scan over the thoughts that people have shared about our current principles and thought that they gave a helpful picture of the different views and ideas across our team.

One of the notes which stood out to me was on the ‘Open Up’ poster and it prompted me to jot down a few thoughts on why I think that working in the open (including blogging) is valuable to us as a team.

Open up | Be open about your work. We’re part of a community.

Some of the reasons I think that this is important are:

  • Our internal governance can be simpler and less onerous because weeknotes and blogposts give transparency about progress, opportunities and challenges. I also find that they give more insight into what project teams are thinking than traditional highlight reports and often prompt me to ask follow up questions to find out more about issues.
  • Sharing our work in the open has proven very useful for attracting new people to join our team by showing how we are helping to make things better for our citizens. I think it’s more authentic to share information about the actual work we are doing rather than simply relying on bold assertions in recruitment ads.
  • Posting about our work is also a useful way to show current and potential future suppliers how we want to work, helping them to work well with us.
  • Talking about challenges can be helpful as it can prompt people elsewhere to share their experience and help us overcome problems that we haven’t been able to solve yet.
  • Teams also get a sense of pride from talking about the work they’re doing. As a manager I know that it’s important for me to show the people I work with that I value their work and I think that this is as important for teams within our service as it is for HackIT as a whole. I’ve loved the recent G+ posts from different teams sharing information about what they’re working on.

Mulling this over prompted a conversation with Matthew about how we can help people to feel confident writing about challenges they’ve encountered. Nic wrote a How to HackIT guide as a tool to help make sure that we are protecting data when we work in the open: How to HackIT – How to work in the open, responsibly. I think it might be useful to think through how this could be extended to include guidance about sharing less positive news and challenges, so that working in the open doesn’t simply become a glossy veneer on our work. I’ve made a note to follow that up.

LOTI all member workshop

On Tuesday, I joined up with colleagues from the other LOTI member boroughs to catch up on the progress we are making together (the LOTI team have written about this in their most recent weeknote: https://medium.com/loti/loti-weeknote-20-6ba93117d39). I am proud that Hackney is playing a full and active part in this work, and am especially pleased to see the fantastic progress for the Digital Apprenticeships workstream that Cate has been helping to lead.

In June we agreed to set a goal of having 100 digital apprentices in post across the LOTI boroughs by September 2020, an important first step in LOTI’s mission to accelerate the development of digital skills and capabilities across the boroughs. We found that at that point there were 48 apprenticeships in place across LOTI and we are now well on track to more than double that, with a total of 68 apprentices now in post and firm commitments that will bring this up to 97. I’m very confident that we can exceed our initial goal, which is a brilliant example of how working together has helped us significantly increase our collective impact.

I also…

  • Caught up with Dan and Liz for an initial conversation about a further update we are planning to take to Audit Committee to show how the HR dashboards that the Data & Insight team produced earlier in the year are helping managers manage sickness absence.
  • I’ve taken over from Kim Wright as corporate lead for resilience (covering the Council’s arrangements for responding to major incidents in the borough) and this week I met with colleagues to look at ways we can make sure that our governance is keeping pace with the excellent progress that’s been made across the Council in recent years. I also met with Cllr Selman, who’s cabinet portfolio includes community safety and resilience, to discuss the areas that she would like us to be focusing on.
  • Ran a follow up session about our ‘Start-up to Scale-up’ journey with the support team and other colleagues who weren’t able to make the strategy show & tell a few weeks ago.
  • Went to the Hackney Procurement Board with Cate to ask for approval to buy some licences we need. The hard work that Cate, Paul, Steve and others have put into this was rewarded with a positive outcome.
  • Had my training for next week’s General Election count. Having done this a few times now I’m reasonably confident that I know what to do. But different elections use different voting systems and the general election is counted overnight, so this was a useful opportunity to make sure that I’m on top of the detail.
  • Joined Matthew to welcome Nic to our team as our new Corporate Information & Knowledge Manager. This is an important role and I’m pleased to have Nic join our team.

Something I’m learning

Last weekend I did some in-depth research into the importance of user experience… I was figuring out how to set my sons up with the ability to share a Minecraft world with their cousins, and in the process I managed to write a small epistle documenting the numerous foibles of what’s involved with doing this (mostly relating to problems I encountered with the account service it uses).

There’s a widely held view that consumer technology is much easier than the IT we experience in the workplace. I think that might be true in many instances but it definitely wasn’t in this case. Overall, it reminded me that whether technology is being designed for home or work, it’s important that time and care is taken to make sure that users can succeed first time, unaided.