3.30 — weeknotes — 2 years at Hounslow already!?!

This week marks the return to weekly week notes , well hopefully, maybe. We’ll see how we get on. Was off last week for the birthday celebrations and then some actual summer sunshine — really nice to be back though — can you believe it was 100 days to Christmas last Thursday. :-)

Can you believe that this week marks my second year at London borough of Hounslow I genuinely do not know where the time has gone over this time. We have achieved a huge amount in that time.

This week has been a lot of activity around the World of Work programme, our plans for how we work in the new normal. We do want to make the most of the positives of the pandemic and don’t want to return to how we did things before. I did two Member sessions this week over two evenings as part of their return to the building but also to update on the programme, the thinking and the plans for the future. We also had a mini tour of some of the changes that have started to take place in the building. We have started to reduce the social distancing which means that we can start to use the buildings in more collaborative ways but all done in a very safe and supportive manner.

We have kicked off the planning for this November’s Digital Festival — this year in collaboration with colleagues in Organisational Development to link in more with the Wellness and Learning strategies. If you are not aware we held the Digital Festival last year in November with over 60 sessions for colleagues and the community, about all things digital. We had speakers from a range of our partners and suppliers and a focus on wellness meant we had daily Mindfulness sessions for the whole council to enjoy. If you are interested in being part of it drop me a message!!!

On Friday colleagues from work attended the MJ Awards as we had been nominated for Council of the Year, Workforce Transformation and Climate Leadership Awards. Whilst we unfortunately didn’t win, this year, we were highly commended in both the Climate Leadership and Workforce Transformation. Really good to be in the final for these and looking forward to next year!

So where has the last two years gone?

Jumping ship from Kingston and Sutton two years ago was really hard, we were just about to move into the delivery of a range of projects, so was a difficult decision to leave. But one, I have to say that I haven’t regretted. I still miss the people, the team at the shared service were amazing (still are!). I can’t work out whether the last two years have flown past or whether it feels like I have been there 10 years. The culture of Hounslow is really strong and our new values are really powerful.

It has been such a journey but I am so proud of the team and what we have delivered. The response to the pandemic was especially amazing, people really did step up. To be fair they still are as there is still work taking place around Covid.

We have started to build a really strong team, I forget how long recruitment takes, but we are building a team with the right capacity and capability — introducing new functions such as service design, agile, data scientist, change and problem, content design and much more. I was of course building on a great team and so pleasing to see colleagues developing in huge amounts.

We have been changing the technology as well, stepping up when it counted as part of the pandemic to ensure that the council had the capacity for everyone to work at home, we have been simplifying things as well — to make it easier for colleagues (and us as well). We continue to improve the security and cyber security remains top of the list.

We have seriously improved information governance across the organisation, making it easier and more engaging for colleagues to be part of and get involved.

We are working in the open. Http://hounslow.digital is where we are updating and making sure that we co-design with colleagues and the community in everything we have done.

Personally. I feel that even in this time I have developed as a Leader, more confident in my abilities but regularly stretched. I have a much wider view of the organisation, take a much more corporate view than in previous roles, not just seen as IT. Our One Hounslow transformation programme covers so much change across the council and Digital has been at the centre of the design and now implementation of the programmes.

I would have never had thought that I would have been a Vice President of Socitm either — but was voted on last year. I have hosted national conferences (virtually) as part of this, again something that I never would have thought! I am also leading an amazing theme on ethics, one that is pushing my knowledge but is absolutely fascinating.

So what a couple of years! Building a strong foundation for transformation takes time but it really feels that we are moving forwards in the right way. Looking forward to the next year!

Tune of the week: Elton John, Dua Lipa — Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) (Official Video)

Director of Digital & IT for the London Borough of Hounslow