Weeknote: 9 July 21

I took a much-needed break last week. I received one of those emails from HR asking everyone to check their holiday allowance and turns out I still had 90% of my annual leave remaining — So I promptly booked 3 days off.


Let’s just get the football out of the way. Absolute pandemonium ensued when Harry Kane scored the other night, I couldn’t believe it, England were actually on their way to a major final.

My earliest memories of international football were from World Cup ’98. I was so mesmerised by Ronaldo’s boots, I ran home from primary school, grabbed my piggy bank and rushed to this football shop in Bethnal Green — Sadly for me, my jar of copper coins only had enough to buy a pair of shin pads. Mind you, I still have them!

Since 1998 we’ve had some highly talented squads. Unfortunately, through a mixture of bad performances and misfortune, we have massively underachieved. This time it feels different, and not just on the pitch where players are finally replicating the form they show throughout the season; but also off it.

A special shout out to Gareth Southgate, who has been an inspirational leader — before the tournament he wrote a powerful letter, here’s a couple of nice quotes that demonstrate the qualities of his team as well as himself:

It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.​​​​​​​

It’s about how we conduct ourselves on and off the pitch, how we bring people together, how we inspire and unite, how we create memories that last beyond the 90 minutes. That last beyond the summer. That last forever.

Shadow IT

Our CDTO wrote a blog earlier this week, talking about the challenges of shadow IT — which is something that has become more prevalent over the last 18 months as digital tools became more accessible and more integral to our working practices.

How do we define shadow IT? Well IMO it’s usually one of these things:

  1. Online or downloadable software i.e. Something like Miro? (Although, where would we be without it now?!)
  2. OTS digital solutions i.e. Buying a new performance management system
  3. Commission of services i.e. X department commissions a third party to build a website

This is a difficult topic. There is usually a minefield of implications around security, data, architecture, support and legal. It’s not easy, there is certainly no one size fits all and each one of the 3 points above has its own challenges.

I think it’s important to find a middle ground on these sorts of things. Have clear policies on tools and digital procurement but also be flexible where possible so people can operate within safe guardrails. Introduce feedback loops and signpost clear routes to delivery so colleagues know who to talk to. Raise awareness of digital teams, so they are represented upstream across the organisation.

Every procurement gone wrong or third party software that’s now worryingly become business critical is a learning opportunity.

We need to work collaboratively with colleagues across the business to identify ways to use the existing skills and tools we have at our disposal, without the need to start projects or procure new systems.

We also need to introduce a way of running small experiments i.e. less than 2 sprints, not a 6–8 week disco/alpha, flexible procurement rules, with clear business benefits, which will satisfy architectural principles — So we can quickly test hypotheses and determine what the options are before making any significant commitments.

Next week

  1. A discovery on a new funding imitative and what we’re trying to learn
  2. Supporting colleagues through periods of significant change
  3. Meeting our new CDTO & Transformation Director
  4. Outcomes from a x-gov workshop on digital front doors (invites open)

I think that is everything! Please have a lovely weekend and let’s all hope Monday is declared a bank holiday 😉