2020 04 24 — Weeknotes

2.16 — the one with the virtual Hounslow Leadership workshop.

It has been another interesting week! It continues to be challenging, but it is starting to be challenging in different ways (which I think is positive). Not just the amount of hours or trying to ensure that we have thought about everything as part of the immediate response, but genuinely starting to think about what the world looks like after this. It’s starting to require some different brain cells that’s for sure.

There is a real opportunity to inject some more pace and vision in the work that we are doing across the Council as part of the Digital Strategy and we are certainly able to be bolder! As we have the majority of the organisation already working in ways that were not even deemed possible a couple of months ago, it shows what can be done, if you really think about things in different ways.

Live Events in Microsoft Teams is something that we have done a lot of recently. We have a weekly Staff Q&A sessions with the Chief Exec, who is usually joined by another senior manager and takes questions from staff, live. Last week was the Director of Public Health this week was the Director of Organisational Development, they have been really good and very well attended with over 500 members of staff. We are starting to think about how we will use Teams to run the formal Council committee meetings from next month. So the weekly Q&A is also a good opportunity to practise.

A lot of the thinking and time for this week was for the Hounslow Leadership Group session, top 100 managers in Hounslow, which we had using Teams Live as well on Thursday. What started life as a conversation around shall we cancel it — shall we use the time to be thinking about Recovery? ended up turning into something that was quite the digital event… I’ll write it up and share information in a bit more detail on Hounslow.Digital as I’ve had a number of people ask about it. I really should have kept it simple, but no…….. I managed to weave in a quiz, an interactive section and breakout workshops all virtually. Was a mammoth task but went really well. Had some amazing feedback from colleagues about it, who appeared to enjoy it and certainly got involved in the breakout workshops (and the quiz!) There was one moment at the start where Niall was welcoming everyone and his audio was breaking up, after an uncomfortable few moments, I interupted him to ask him to switch his video off — luckily all worked well after that! The whole thing shows what you can do with the technology when you think creatively.

There was a theme at the Hounslow Leadership Group about the recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic and to start the Council’s thinking about it now. There were some amazing discussions and a focus on the future, from Response to Recovery and thinking about what we want to Retain, Restore and Reinvent for the communities of Hounslow… Digital was certainly a common thread in a lot of the discussions, so good to ensure that we are integral to the new ways of doing things in Hounslow.

Within Digital & IT, we have seen our levels of demand fall back to ‘normal’, certainly call volumes into the service desk has returned to levels they were before. This is therefore a good time to ensure that we start the thinking ourselves in the team, about our recovery, what do we need to do differently — what do we need to retain, restore or reinvent.

There was definitely a theme of quizes this week, at the start of the Management Show and Tell we did a very brief quiz on childhood games — I managed to get most of them. Was good to get the wider management team together to have an update on where we are with our response and next steps. But just as nice to spend 5 minutes talking about nothing work related!

We have had a number of sessions with Amazon over the last couple of weeks around their tools for managing and using big data, there are some really impressive tools for analysing pictures or audio, some very clever things that we will look to see whether there are any uses for us as part of the Digital Strategy.

Had some of my inner geek come to the surface this week as well. I watched the launch of the SpaceX Starlink satellites on the Internet on Wednesday then watched the rocket come overhead 30 minutes later. Later that evening saw a few of the satellites from ealier launches come over as well. I think it’s pretty cool, but given they want to launch 12,000 I can’t help but think there is a risk of spoiling the night sky…

Some interesting times ahead!

Tune of the Week: Lovestation — Teardrops

Director of Digital & IT for the London Borough of Hounslow