Weeknote 10-14 February 2020

Weeknote 10-14 February 2020

3 minute read

On being caught between storms.

About agile in Cornwall Council

We are starting to adopt more agile and open ways of working. We have been experimenting internally with weeknotes and, with a little time lag, we would like to see what publishing these might achieve.

It is great living near the coast and have a constantly changing view but there are down sides. Storm Ciara has produced some spectacular waves but I am still not used to the way our little bungalow creaks, groans, clatters and shakes in a storm. Not the best few nights sleep I have had but maybe I will be more used to it by the time Dennis arrives this weekend. It will take even longer to block all the drafty holes that Ciara managed to find. One minor success is the compost bin is still in place in the garden now that we have attached concrete blocks!

Similar weather in our portfolio this week too. Many in our team are being kept awake by our Oracle and Windows 10 “storms”. They will blow over eventually but they are more enduring than Ciara and Dennis and lower priority work may have to wait while we sort things out. Many in team Falcon are caught up in this so we took the drop in capacity into account when we did our advanced planning for Sprint 8.

These “storms” are inevitable given the creative, high-risk sort of work we do but the good side is the change, variety and the nice surprises. Here are some examples from this week:

  • Another council is in the process of refreshing their intranet and are happy to share prototypes and the user research they have done. I’ve set up a call for them to chat with our HR team who are planning to do something similar.
  • Our fast change work for Cornwall Housing is going into test so we have updated our Services team and are creating the Service Delivery Plan together using the Wiki feature in AzureDevOps.
  • Our customer services team are going to draft the business justification and business benefits for upgrading our call centre call recording.
  • I’ve started working with the Custom Apps team to kick-off some agile development work for Cornwall Outdoors.
  • I’ve started to learn more about the work in the Database Product Team and Operations Centre so we can see where agile ideas might help and put some of them to the test.
  • Over lunch on Friday, I attended another Agile in the Ether1 call to share ideas about applying agile in all sort of organisations and situations. Topics included: making progress visible when a project is about culture and behaviour change; estimating and long-term forecasts; how to work with small teams where everyone is part time. The event itself is an experiment in building a team or community which cannot spend much time together and are never in the same location. We might be able to adopt some of how this works for some of our teams or communities of practice2.

A word about a good cause

Due to a family commitment I had to miss Cornwall Tech Jam3 last weekend. From social media4 it looked like it was another busy session with parents and kids working through a series of computing challenges from simple visual programming5 through to building and controlling electronic devices6. The event has a great atmosphere so I will make sure I get along to the next event in March7 and also the Open Tech Challenge8. I realise I was spoilt by the range of meet ups and tech for good events when I worked in London so it is good to find a group of committed people here in Cornwall9. I’m now on the look out for a local hackathon in support of a good cause, rather like the regular NHS Hack Days10 or a less regular event like HomelessHack11. If there isn’t one do you want to help me set one up?


  1. Agile in the Ether

  2. We have several communities of practice including product management and agile delivery manager which are relatively new roles in our organisation. 

  3. Cornwall Tech Jam

  4. Tweet about the weekend Tech Jam

  5. At the Tech Jam we get kids (and adults!) working with Scratch as an introduction to programming. 

  6. More experienced people can build and control a Mars Rover

  7. Details for the Tech Jam in March

  8. Open Tech Challenge details

  9. Software Cornwall

  10. NHS Hack Day

  11. Homelesshack

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