3.25 — weeknotes — an actual real life / face to face conference

Has been a week that has started to feel a bit more like returning to ‘normal’ with some face to face meetings this week.

Started the week with meeting my management team on Monday afternoon. Was really good to see them all face to face — first time since March 2020. Felt slightly surreal at times but was nice to catch up, we had a bit of lunch and spent some time just finding out what was going on with everyone. We did spend a little bit of time thinking and planning for the future as well. So a great way to spend the day. Although did remind myself why I really don’t like trains.

It was nice to do this in the borough as well, so was able to have a little wander around parts of it that I have not been to before.

Tuesday and Wednesday I have to say I really liked being back at my desk at home (or perhaps just not on a train) and jam packed full of meetings with the team and moving on a number of different areas. Including the launch of our Digital Digest, our new all staff email that we are sending to all staff, once a month to update on all things digital across the council.

After what feels many many months of talking about the strategy, fixing some of the basics, getting the team in place and ensuring we have the right foundations for the strategy we are starting to see some real progress in a number of areas.

We have a number of projects out at the procurement stage at the moment. Through working with other boroughs and through LOTI we have tried to be a bit more innovative in the process for the procurement and tried to be a bit more that ‘just’ sending out a ‘400’ page specification. We have held innovation sessions and tried to be clear about what we are trying to achieve through documenting our outcomes. Really good to be moving a number of significant projects along.

Thursday and Friday of this week was at a real life conference in a real life hotel. It was the Local Government Strategy Forum bringing together councils from across the country as well a number of suppliers. It was also an opportunity to meet Adi, who started in March as our Strategic Relationship and Programmes Manager and not been able to meet face to face. Brilliant to be able to meet him in real life and find out more about him.

I had the opportunity to speak at the event as well on the One Hounslow journey, our culture changes, the digital strategy and response to covid. Was odd standing up in front of an audience although it did look reassuringly like Teams together mode. I also was part of a panel discussion later that morning on hybrid working as well. So was a real opportunity to raise the profile of Hounslow and everything we have been getting up to.

A real mix of topics across the two days, lots to reflect upon and think about. An over riding feeling was very much that Local Government has really delivered a huge amount over the last 18 months (massive understatement) and that transformation will continue. Digital & IT has been a core part of that and will continue to play a really important part in the future. I think more reflections on the drive home…

Being able to network with people in person was really good. It was also great to reconnect with colleagues from other organisations that I hadn’t seen for ages! As always with these things was able to learn a lot form others and the team as well. We started to think about our next Digital Festival and how we link to bringing the team together as well as really brining the work we are doing to life. Had a chat on one of the tables about the importance of looking after yourself working at home and the importance of taking a nap (well actually doing some yoga) — loved this idea.

I also managed a jog on the first evening around the ground which was lovely, just needed a change of scenery to get back outside running. Wonder whether that will continue into next week? Certainly wont have the same views!

Tune of the week:

Director of Digital & IT for the London Borough of Hounslow