Lesson learned

I’m a bit late in getting this #weeknote out – and that is very much reflective of just how busy things have been. Playing catch-up has really underlined for me that I should keep on top of this every week. So, lesson learned, and ‘the big catch-up’ is well underway.

I’ve considered doing a single post to catch-up weeks 27, 28 and 29 but decided against that for 2 reasons: (1) I have a high-level draft for each week already (I draft bullets during the week) and (2) selfishly I’m looking forward to being able to look back on individual weeks.

Working together

Week 27 started with a meeting with Parking and digital/ ICT colleagues from Westminster City Council, and a reflection on our shared work on a system for online parking suspensions. It’s such an impressive story of genuine, collaborative, partnership working and a great example of what we can achieve when we work together.

We spent some time exploring and sharing ideas to build on our collaboration. While there are a number of stories to work through as part of our shared ‘backlog’ of work there’s also huge ambition to do more. Westminster and Camden have different business models and technical architectures, yet these differences haven’t been a barrier to us achieving together. (Something for me to reflect on as #LOTI cranks up, and we work in more partnerships with colleagues across London and the sector.)

Smart places and the Internet of Things

As we considered ‘what next?’ the conversation inevitably turned to data, making better use of the information and insight that we have, and infrastructure developments that support better insight.

Last week I shared how I met Clare at the weekend, where we talked (a little, it was the weekend and we were with other — not local gov — folk!) about the work that she’s doing with artificial intelligence, assistive technology, lampposts and the Internet of Things in Yorkshire. Clare is fantastic and she’s one of my oldest buddy’s new partner, so an awesome encounter on many grounds.

Turns out that meeting was serendipitous, and very much aligned with where our conversations with Westminster colleagues are heading. It’s interesting how quickly the conversations around data and IoT move to ethics and how we make the best use of the information that we have in a way that is transparent and empowering to our citizens.

This builds on the thinking that we’re doing around data in Camden and this week also saw the last exploratory workshop with directors on our data future. There’ll be more on that over the coming weeks and we’ll be following-up with more conversations around our work in the public realm, the Internet of Things and what we can share with colleagues in Westminster (and Bradford) in the coming weeks.

Developing and bringing in new talent, and finding new ways of doing things

In the digital and data teams we’re changing the way that we work with the rest of the council, and as part of that I’m looking to introduce many more apprenticeships. I see this as a way of providing structured development for colleagues across the team (including leading to formal qualifications), and as a way of making our recruitment more inclusive and diverse.

Among other things, when I met with colleagues in Housing we talked about how we could focus and extend our apprentice recruitment to our residents and their families which will be a great way of brining more Camden people into the council. As a result, we’ll be targeting some of the advertising around our new apprentice roles in our resident magazine and looking to raise as much local awareness of the opportunities as possible when our campaign kicks off.

In the spirit of doing things differently, some colleagues and I visited PA Consulting at their research headquarters just outside Cambridge. There’s a video of the site here > https://youtu.be/Yc3Lawe76So if you want to learn more.

We were struck by the potential of the approach and site. Bringing together traditional process and service design with manufacturing and product allows for agile product (and service) design in a way that we’d not seen before. Ora, kitchen towel without corners, was developed here from concept to product in months.

With all of this ‘thinking differently’ I’ve been giving some thought to my role as a Trustee at the Stoke Association. I met with Juliet and Dom for a (very pleasant) drink on Thursday evening where we reflected on my first few months since starting as a Trustee in September.

Taking stock and getting their views was so helpful! It’s been such a great learning experience for me being a Trustee and, to build on that, I’m hoping to catch-up with a few of the other Trustees over the coming months too.

… and onto week 28

Next week sees the start of the end of primary school for us, and a ‘hello’ to secondary for our youngest. New beginnings seem to have been a recurring feature for me over the last few weeks.

I’ll also be meeting with some of the team to get detailed feedback on our recent team meeting where we discussed how we support each other and work together better.

Next week also sees the first discussion with the board around data and information, raising awareness of the work that we’re doing to empower our citizens to own their information, and the security that we’re putting in place to protect the data that we’re entrusted with.

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