Weeknotes S1 E2 2021


Hello! Welcome to another set of weeknotes. These will be hastily composed as I’m looking forward to giving my brain a bit of a rest and do something entirely non productive like watch 7 solid hours of Netflix.

I’ve been doing…

It’s been a week filled with lots of video calls, so perhaps the positive interpretation of that is ‘highly collaborative’! I hesitate to use the word ‘meetings’ because I don’t think that’s always accurate. Some were useful open ended chats. Some were workshoppy type things around a particular topic. Some were actual meetings with agendas and actions. I suspect a part of the angst about ‘Zoom meetings’ is really not correctly identifying the purpose of the call you’ve been asked to join.

I was idly wondering if there was something I could plug into Google Calendar to analyse where my time was being spent per week. Or I could manually do this myself. Would this be a worthwhile excercise? What might I learn? Hmm.. something to think on.

Following on from feeling bit overwhelmed last week, I spoke to some of my colleauges about it and immediately felt better. I think it’s that thing of once you’ve spoken your worries or fears aloud, they tend to have less sway over you.. or at least that’s how my brain works. It was also just useful to unpack these thoughts and either confirm or deny my internal monologue about them. A problem shared and all that.

This week I attended the 1st proper session of ‘leadership masterclasses’ entitled ‘The one public service leader’. Essentially it was all about the importance of being outward looking, particularly in public services where often we are working in the same communities with the same people.

Joined up public services is a topic close to my heart and is entirely coherent with my belief that good service delivery is informed but a full understanding of who the service is for including other public services they may interact with.

Perhaps it’s terribly nieve of me, but I don’t think anyone working in public services sets out to make things disjointed or hard to reach. I do think that there are underlying drivers like promotion/recognition and chasing funding that creates unhelpful competition in a space where empathy, curiosity and collaboration should perhaps be more valued and rewarded. Pleasingly, we can already see some of this in action (in Wales) as part of the Well-being of Future Generations Act’s Sustainable Development Principles where integration, collaboration and involvement are specifically called out.

We also touched upon the ‘Nolan Principles’ or ‘The seven principles of public life’, which is something I’d not encountered before but seem like basic requirements if not for recent prominent examples of leaders who seem to model the exact polar opposite.

The seven principles are…

  • Selflessness.
  • Integrity.
  • Objectivity.
  • Accountability.
  • Openness.
  • Honesty.
  • Leadership.

I don’t think any of these are controversial, and I go back to my original point about systemic drivers that may discourage these principles, or at least generously re-interpret them for their own ends. I’d like to think that the exception though!

We also talked about how to encourage open and trusting relationships. This is something I think about quite often because this is where the best work gets done! My thoughts on this are that it’s best to a) assume good intentions right from the start and b) lead with generosity. It does not guarantee that those things will be immediately reciprocated because we’re all different and sometimes it takes longer to gain trust, but at least your starting in a positive place and enouraging a more open dialogue by modelling the behaviour.

Next session is at the end of February is will be on ‘Relationship-centred decision making’ which sound really interesting.

I’ve been reading…

I really enjoyed this post by Dave Snowden on ‘’comfort and resilience’. Lots of interesting observations on what is resilient vs what is robust, including this key principle for organisational design — “Design for resilience unless you are absolutely sure that conditions will stay within the design limitations of robustness”

This tweet about healthy (and not so healthy) use of sprints got my brain whirring. https://twitter.com/agileschools/status/1354888857192427526

I feel I should print this off and slap it on the wall near my desk! Credit to @Lizandmollie

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