Weeknotes #18

Week commencing 27th January 2020.

This week I started with a slightly different tact, to start a new more conscious habit. Monday now starts with a self check-in and plan.

Weeknotes started to become a great way for me to reflect on the week but I realised recently that I’d not been completing the loop of playing those thoughts into next week. So this week started with just that, a re-read of my reflections on last week and then a plan for this week. I picked one highlight per day and let the rest of my week be pretty fluid.


Highlight: Start the research for the team’s plan for next year

Monday included an emergency get-together to make sure we had a plan to cover some urgent support needs. I’m really thankful to be part of a team that still pulls together when we need each other. After a few unexpected surprises these last few weeks (one developer leaving and another breaking his leg) we were left a bit short. Still, the team band together and we find ways to adjust and make things work - we know it’s temporary.

Monday was also the day of my first 1-2-1 with my new manager. It was short and sweet but I got to share some thoughts and ideas which is mostly what I need from those kinds of sessions.

Finally managed to make time to start the research for strategy work I’m doing for the new financial year.


Highlight: Make sure I’m home to take the wee one to hospital.

Tuesday was a bit more admin heavy with budgets, forecasting and training on the ERP system. I was a bit pressed for time too as I had to take my son to the hospital for a long awaited check-up. For context, he was premature and the NHS are incredible and they’re really making sure he’s getting the absolute best care they can muster. I’m so, so grateful.


Highlight: Say thank you to Alan before he leaves at midday

Wednesday was an early start to make sure I got to say goodbye and thank you to Alan. Alan left us this week to take an opportunity with a private sector company. It’d always been on his list but he’d never got around to it until now. I dropped off a card and small token of my personal appreciation. I also had a really good chat to say thank you for all his work these past few years, I know a lot of people at Milton Keynes Council will miss him.

Once thank you’s were said, I headed back across to Northamptonshire to support a strategy design workshop for the Future Northants programmes. These kinds of workshop are often really messy, especially when many people a coming together with different expectations. Bit by bit, we’ll get there. Things will become clearer. One thing to note is how impressive it is to see so many experiences and perspectives being represented. Whilst it makes coming to shared decisions far more difficult, we’re all working really hard to make sure everyone’s contributions are heard. It’s so important that the programme’s capture the diverse experiences and users that 8 different council’s represent.

After the workshop, I jumped back in the car to get back to our home office and complete Jonathan’s probationary review - I love listening to Jonathan’s point of view, he shares things with a combination of observation and opinion that I really enjoy. We ran through his experiences of his first few months with us and set some goals for the next few weeks. I’m excited to see the progress we make.


Highlight: Listening and learning from people I respect deeply

One of my aims for this year is to make time to see people. People that inspire me or to let them know that they support me from afar, even if they don’t realise it. Distance needn’t be a thing.

With that in mind, I headed to London for an early meet with James of notbinary. We talked how to support and grow teams, different approaches to strategy and shared stories of our respective experiences with shared service organisations. After I’d finished the tea in the pot, I got my head down to catch up with the team before heading over to Camden to see Emma.

Emma is one of those people who I’ve never crossed paths with in person but followed online for what feels like an age. After hearing about Emma’s recent session on vulnerabilty at work at #UKGovCamp I was even more excited to talk some time out to share stories. We talked families, lack of sleep, influencing senior leaders on what ‘digital’ is an isn’t or might be and building teams, amongst other things. I absolutely loved hearing how Emma is building a team and approach at Camden and can’t wait to catch up again next week as part of another meetup.

After a catch up on slack messages and emails, I rounded off my afternoon headinig out to Hackney to see Emily. I know of Emily’s work through a good friend and we first met at a Leads meetup a few months back. Since then we’ve kept in touch and if you’re at all interested in organisation design, team culture and social-impact work, go follow.

We talked about the role of insitutions in the future, whether we’re aiming to fix the right problems and how our very different experiences of pain over the last few years have had similar affects on who we are today.

I headed home, head buzzing and aching in equal measure.


Highlight: Self reflection

I used Friday to reflect not only the week but on our team’s way of working. We strive for continuous improvement but it’s easier said than done. It’s a discipline, a skill, a learned behaviour that you have to keep practicing. We’ve have plenty of separate conversations over the past few weeks and months about how to improve the way we work but it was fairly obvious this week that all that learning was being shared in pockets and not contributing well to the whole team. After a bit of logistical tennis, we’ve set up some dedicated time for us to re-think how we create space to learn and adapt our approach again.

Finally one of the things that’s stood out for me so far this year is how many decisions or changes across an organisation are made without data or evidence. One of the things I’d like us to put some of our attention towards these next few weeks is evidence and data backed decision making. I’ll keep thinking on how this might be most useful.

Other things I did this week


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