Weeknote 19 - 23 October 2020

Weeknote 19 - 23 October 2020

3 minute read

On interim operating models, pressure and free speech.


Lots of my work this week concerned how we keep our finance and workforce systems working well after the implementation project has closed, but before our new long-term operating model has been put into place. This could be a period of several months. I’ve covered:

  • assessing issues and requests that users have raised
  • how we govern and pay for changes that users might want
  • getting the right balance between permanent and temporary staff
  • aligning priorities across all of the teams involved
  • taking advantage of the things our new systems can do.

With my coaching hat on I’ve also been talking to people about:

  • how we will manage now that there are no periods of business-as-usual in between change projects
  • getting a consensus on the priorities of work in our backlogs
  • focusing on outcomes for people rather than out-of-date plans or arbitrary deadlines
  • finishing projects well
  • contributing to some research on agility in local authorities
  • buying and managing services to support some of our agile product teams.

It was good to meet some new people at the Cornwall Digital Meetup this week. I enjoyed the regular Cornwall Geeks meetings before the pandemic and I hope this virtual version can fill the gap until we meet in person again.


By the middle of the week I had run out of room on the bit of wood which is serving as my personal backlog so I started to clear off the discretionary and low priority items. As each little sticky note went into the bin I also mentally let go of the topic it mentioned. It was only after I had made some room, and was feeling happier, that I realised I had been feeling under pressure trying to keep too many things going at the same time. I also realised that, because I was under pressure, I hadn’t been providing advice and coaching with the usual amount of care and patience it deserves. For a couple of weeks I had probably been nagging rather than nudging. If you were on the receiving end of this, sorry. Hopefully, I was in better form by the end of the week and will not repeat the same mistake again.


Highlights for the next week or so are:

  • starting to regularly report on some of our on-going finance and workforce systems activities (such as archiving and decommissioning our old systems, and handling incidents and requests coming in for the new ones)
  • confirming our interim plans for the teams who look after our payroll
  • catching up with the cross-government team looking at self-managed learning on digital and agile techniques
  • helping with a sprint retrospective for one of our infrastructure teams.

Unfortunately, one of our delivery managers has COVID-19 and so I will also help their team while they are unwell. Hopefully they will be feeling much better soon.


The BAME Staff Forum this week covered some updates for Black History Month and collaboration with other public services in Cornwall. We also talked about something much less pleasant. The Council has taken a clear public stance against racism but some people think the Council should have different priorities or object to particular measures. They have a right to express their opinions even if this causes offence. In extreme cases, it might be appropriate to turn to laws which set limits on what people can write or say. Organisations, events or forums usually have a code of conduct which defines acceptable behaviour and what happens if this is not observed. That still leaves open a lot of difficult scenarios. When is it right to block comments or remove them in response to a complaint? When is it better to present the facts, defend our position and be seen to do so? Either way, I am glad we are listening to what BAME Forum members think.

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