Week notes 14th May 2018

Blackbird on its nest

Picture above is of a blackbird that is nesting in the rosebush outside the garage. We now have to creep around when extracting anything and also can’t BBQ as its nested just above it but we have fingers crossed we will get hatchlings this year! As the observant will have noticed I missed putting a note up last week – I ended up with a busier weekend than I planned and so didn’t get to it – bumper week notes this week then!

I’m still missing the two things I wanted from my diary:

  • Time to do some proper thinking and get into ‘flow’ so I can do more than just respond to things (and avoid getting into the habit of doing this as the weekend)
  • Some unscripted time where I be available to my team for follow up actions and checkins on projects

I’ve addressed the first by booking in some chunks of writing time over the next couple of months – but as I type I think I will need to add a few more of those as I am not sure I have done enough. On the second I am partially addressing that by moving around and sitting with different parts of the team so that I can take advantage of the small breaks to talk to people but its not enough so I am thinking of putting 2X1 hour drop in slots into my diary and seeing if that works – I can’t do it this week but will try for the week after.

I have now had all of the day in the life sessions with the team and they have been so useful both as a way of understanding what people do but also a way of getting to know the team. All of the teams put a lot of effort into planning them and its given me some proper insight into how they work (we may have a post-it shortage as a result of the exercise). I am starting to go through my notes and pull out some proper observations but my early thoughts are:

  • Huge amounts of cross over between the two original teams but much less cultural difference than I feared. The experiments we are running this month are already bringing to two groups closer together and next week one of the teams that saw the most cross over are going to share their day in the life sessions so that they can look at how to work more closely together
  • There are a lot of different methods being used and I wonder if we need to encourage this with more sharing or if we ought to be evolving our own playbook of mixed methods. I am leaning towards the latter but want to talk to people about it
  • The work that was done for the department operating model before I joined has gone a long way to bringing things together – we just need to take it a little further
  • My one disappointment / learning with this process is that I didn’t insist or encourage more people to attend each others sessions. I know that the people have done so have found it really useful so I am very pleased we filmed the sessions so we can share them more widely

In other news, governance continues to be a theme and I will get round to writing a more substantive piece on this. As with everything there are layers to this as a topic and we need to decide where to focus first to have the best impact. I am using the democracy stack as a way of explaining how I think about this topic – but the other thing we need to bring out is the balance between rules and culture. Where you have a strong and consistent culture you don’t need to codify rules. Until that is true however the codification helps move things along. However there are disadvantages to relying on culture over codification and that is the difficulty of bringing new people into that culture and also the risk of rejection of new ideas and ways of doing things (we don’t do it like that round here). We will need to work through the right balance for this for our department, directorate and for the rest of the organisation.

One final thought. I’m moving out of my self-imposed listening period and am now firmly focused on trying some things out (more on our experiments in another blog). Discovery is closing down into (initial) design and everything is possible until its not because every choice you make closes down options as it opens up others. I think the biggest opportunity I want us to open is to explore how our process of change can support change in other parts of the organisation. System change – of all sizes and shapes – needs change makers embedded in the system.


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