A short note written during a pause from packing bags ahead of a few days away.
Sharing our digital thinking with councillors
On Friday the Mayor and I co-delivered a talk and Q&A about Hackney’s digital journey at a ‘digital masterclass’ event for councillors from across the country, organised by the Local Government Association. It was the second time we’ve done this and I found it interesting to talk about digital from the perspective of both an elected Mayor and a Council officer.
Some of the key things we talked about included:
- ‘Digital’ is an important lever of change, not just e-forms. We shared how projects like Spacebank and our work on connectivity are using public assets to help our communities. And we also talked about how technology and data are helping support people at risk of homelessness.
- Growing digital skills is about changing the market, not just competing. The councillors at the event were really interested in our digital apprenticeship programme and we encouraged them to be bold in their approach to this (and also shared Cate’s excellent ‘How to HackIT’ guide).
- Why not having a separate ‘digital strategy’ is important, so that technology and data are recognised as being core components of service strategies, not sidelined as a ‘techie’ thing.
- The importance of focusing on end-to-end services, making sure that our measures, policies and processes don’t create unhelpful barriers, friction and unintended problems for our users.
- How designing governance to enable delivery at pace means that we need to challenge many of our existing habits. As part of this I noted how much more useful I find project weeknotes and show & tells than traditional highlight reports and project boards.
- And we also reflected on how important it is to take a long-term view, recognising that the work we’re doing now is only made possible by the hard work that was put in over previous years to get the basics of our service model and infrastructure right.
- Joined the NHS London digital transformation portfolio board for the first time. There were quite a few faces I recognised on the group and I continue to be impressed at the hard work that’s taking place across our region to join up health and care data. I suggested that we might want to consider whether we’re making sufficient space in the agenda for looking at ways we might understand end-users’ needs and explore new ideas (I think there is lots of opportunity to build on the work that’s already taking place to #fixtheplumbing and am keen to see how the approaches we’re taking in HackIT might help with this).
- Had a couple of useful DMT sessions looking at some of the OKRs we’re focusing on, including getting an update from Henry on the engagement that he’s leading with the finance systems and HLT ICT teams as part of the work we’re doing to integrate our teams.
- Had a quick catch up with Jenny from Finance to check in on our budget forecast for the year. This is much improved from ten months ago and reflects the hard work that’s taken place across our team to make sure that we’re managing our money well.
- Had my regular 221 meeting with the Mayor and Ian (my boss). I talked through the work we’re doing to design MOKRs to organise our work, gave some updates on the progress across the work we’re delivering and also a summary of on our service performance and user satisfaction feedback. It was also good to have Susan join us as part of some shadowing we’ve arranged.
- Had my last swimming lesson. I’ve found this really useful and might do a further series later in the year. I’m also wondering whether I can be inspired by Cate’s example and do some early morning swims at London Fields Lido…
Something I’m learning
This weekend I was amused by this small example of data security that hasn’t been thought through very well. This large retailer appears to code the price of their ‘sold by weight’ food into the barcode for each pack, in plain text. I didn’t take advantage of it, but simply choosing the ‘key in code’ option at the self-service tills and then changing characters 9 to 12 in the barcode lets you name your own price!
I thought it was a useful reminder of how an approach that might initially appear to be an easy way to get something done can leave a business exposed to risk.
(I’m taking a break this week, so my next weeknote will arrive in w/c 2 March)