Weeknotes #1

Strategy writing

I’ve just started working on a ‘systems strategy’ for the Revenues and Benefits service at LGSS. The service runs Council Tax, Housing Benefit, Business Rates, Blue Badge and a few other services for Milton Keynes, Horsham and Northampton councils. I want to do something a little different with this strategy, most so-called strategy documents that I see are more vision statements backed by examples from other organisations rather than real data and local context. “It worked there so we’ll just do that and it’ll all be better” … whatever that means.

Although this is supposed to be a systems strategy, I completely disagree with only considering a service based on systems and technology, it’s mad. It also has a track record of not really delivering actual change so yeah, I’d rather not do that. Instead, I’m trying to focus on people, creating empathy for change and ensuring that the strategy helps the Revs and Bens service to change continuously in future in an effort to make learning a continuous practice across the service and consequently, improve the service for users.

Wish me luck eh. I’m not naive enough to think it’ll work first time, it’s a whole networked-system of things that all interact at different levels but mostly, I believe we need to make the strategy for the service about the people.

I need people

On a different note, I had a happy coincidence this week. My friend Lauren was giving a talk to some super folk at Citizens Advice and the conference happened to be in Northampton, the same day I was based there.

Although I had a busy day and plenty of other things that needed my time, it’s rare for me and Lauren to get the chance to hang out and talk in person, so I rearranged a few things and got myself out to spend some time talking, like people. It left me feeling pretty buzzing, not because of anything we particularly talked about, just that I’d been selfish, in a good way and hung out with someone who has an immediate and always positive affect on me.

On a related note, I started listening to ‘Make Time’ by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky after it’d be recommended a few times. The book is about making time for the important things in your life, your own priorities through a series of tactics. So far it’s been pretty good for me, picking and choosing things that I find helpful. One of the tactics in the book is about being able to switch your daily highlight and the day that Lauren was in town, I did exactly that. I switched up my highlight from something that was more important to me because it gave me more joy.


We started prep for our quarterly ‘DevDay’ this week. For the past year I’ve been running an all-dayer for technical staff in our team. The day is a full day off project and support work to spend time with each other, listen, talk and learn together.

The format of the day is typically a few self-made stories and presentations in the morning and some more practical activities / hacks / workshops in the afternoon. It takes a heck of a lot of organising for me normally. This one, number five, is the first where we’ve had a full band of technical leads in the the team to help contribute, organise and prep talks, activities and logistics for the day.

We’re having a call each week to check-in on progress and all being well, we’ll have a great day on the 25th July.

Other things from the week

Currently reading