Weeknotes S4 E5 (2019 Edition)

Design of services

It feels like things are starting to coelesce around a services NOT (just) projects approach. I think what I’m learning through this process is that whilst I’ve absorbed LOADS from those who have forged the service design path in public services, our own path is going to look a little bit different.

I think this is partially a maturity thing (how quickly can we collectively adapt? What capabilities do we have?) but also about scaling things down for our relative size. I’ve got blog post about this floating around my head about this that may make it out into the world (.. once I’ve polished off the last of the cheese and crackers).

Heroic leadership

I was talking to an old friend recently about leadership. They recounted a story of having stepped into a leadership role that pretty much broke them because the environment wanted them to behave as a heroic leader. That is.. I’ve got all the answers. I know everyones job and how they should do it. You need to get behind me because I’ve got the full picture and the big vision.

This industrial age model for organising provides comfort for people who want to be told what to do so they can absolve themselves of accountability, and comfort of leaders who want to appear to have answers for any possible variation of the future.

The problem is.. it’s all mostly a work of collective fiction. People are accountable for their own actions and our leaders can’t possibly know the fullness of every decision they make. In our increasingly uncertain operating environments, this model is setting ourselves up to fail because we choose to avoid vulnerability and uncertainty in favour of comfort.

We need different organising principles and different leaders for the challenges of today and tomorrow. Arguably, the routine and predictable is the work that is ripe for automation, so we need to better prepare ourselves for what’s left.

The challenge is, how might we ask people to embrace vulnerability and uncertainty rather than reach for easy (and often wrong) solutions to problems that don’t really exist. You may also like to apply my rant to our current political situation.


We’ve currently got a Microsoft Dynamics implementation that stubbornly refuses to be modernise without considerable resource being thrown at it. I’ve been thinking about how I might map this learning to other things that we are doing at the moment.

One of my mantras is ‘starting with the end in mind’. What am I doing today and how might I be cementing in a problem for some other poor soul (or even future me)? Trying to maintain technological agility is something I need to give more thought to, especially as we try and push on with simplifying things down to the irreducable core. Need to ensure that today’s pragmatic win isn’t tomorrow’s slow painful exit!

I’ve been reading…

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