Weeknote: 25 June 21

Recently, I have been able to put some of the ‘project’ things on hold and spent more time with some of my direct reports. With objectives high on the agenda this month, I used this time to discuss how they could stretch themselves over the coming year.

I’ve been proud to see how this group has developed over the last 12 months. A large number of them had different roles/titles a year ago, in that time they’ve all navigated a sea of change in our department, utilised learning and development opportunities and haven’t been afraid to go outside their comfort zone. Through this, they’ve gained so much confidence and self-belief, which has propelled them to another level. It goes to show how important capability building and investing in people is.

On another note, I was impressed yet again by the shadow leadership team — A group of junior colleagues, who work collaboratively with SLT. They ran an interactive session on the new comms charter, to understand what information people wanted to be updated on and how. I loved how they used the anonymous voting feature on Teams to gather this feedback.

Delivery Away Day

On Tuesday, the delivery team came together for our virtual away day. On Tuesday, the delivery team came together for our virtual away day. Everyone from Delivery and Product Managers to Business Analysts and Developers (as well as others). Our team is based right around the country from London to Leeds and up in Newcastle. It was great to look back at last year and talk about what’s to come.

One area I think deserves special mention is the work Nikki has done on spend controls. We often talk about solving problems, meeting user needs, delivering value. And sometimes that’s enough to get people on board but sometimes you need a stick to drive prioritisation and decision making.

David Durant and James Hunt joined us from Hackney Council to talk about some of the great delivery they’ve done and the challenges they have overcome. I was particularly moved by how they overcame a debilitating cyber-attack and used it as a catalyst to sort of start afresh.


I’ve been thinking about this great article by Cate Mclaurin. Cate writes about design thinking and the privileges that are required to successfully challenge and be disruptive.

This form of privilege exists across Government departments. Sometimes there are degrees of empowerment, particularly when there is common acceptance that there is a need for change, but in my experience, you can apply this to all forms of disruption to established practices.

The privilege to speak the truth or challenge senior leaders. The privilege to try new things. The privilege to make mistakes without consequences. The privilege to go into unknown territory.

Forms workshop

Last week I joined a brilliant workshop ran by Cathy Dutton, bringing together folk from across government to talk about forms.

Even in my relatively short time here at Homes England, I’ve countered multiple projects (and no doubt there will be more) that have required PDF forms or surveys or applications of some kind. As a result, we’ve been increasingly thinking about how we can create a repeatable component or pattern for this or at least make it easier to build forms that meet standards.

There were some great questions posed by people. Two resonated with me:

  1. Do we need forms at all?
  2. Can we afford to invest in the time and people it would need to solve this long term?

With my delivery hat on, I’ve been thinking about the second question in particular.

In central government, you can probably invest in a multi-disciplinary team to really look at the end-to-end journey, complete a discovery and build something that meets user needs. But is that applicable for everyone?