Weeknote: 17 to 21 June 2019

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Last weekend at Robin Hood’s Bay

1. What inspired me this week?

On Monday evening I went to a brilliant Digital Leaders Week event hosted by Victoria Betton at Co>Space North, to learn more about issues of diversity and inclusion in technology. (I hope this partly atoned for having dropped out of a staff network event on the same topic earlier in the day.) People talked about the things that everyone in the room can do to help, and one of those things was to keep posting and blogging about the issues, so here goes…

  • Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle from McKinsey talked about the evidence: Gender and ethnic diversity are positively correlated to earnings growth. (Having boards who all went to the same elite institutions is not.)
  • Eve Roodhouse noted that while there are many things we can do as individuals, these are systematic issues that also need to be addressed as a system.
  • Rachel Benn shared the story of bringing the #TechMums initiative to Leeds, how she recruited the first group of mums, and the impacts she’s seen in confidence, families, and friendships.
  • Louise Sinclair, Lorraine Jackson, and Cleveland Henry, shared their own stories and the work they’ve led, all noting the importance of role models for women and ethnic minority people to counter the images of tech as the preserve of white men.
  • Lianne Potter shared her experiences, good and bad, of getting into software development at NHS Digital as a career change. We’re lucky to have Lianne and all her colleagues who are collaborating to reduce the barriers to getting started with code.

Other things that inspired me:

  • Eva’s blog post about the brilliant work she’s doing as practice lead for content at NHS Digital.
  • Hearing about some of our graduate scheme participants who will be moving into permanent roles at NHS Digital. The cohort coming to the end of their graduate programme this year are pioneers as Digital Services Delivery graduates, and I’m determined we get them over the line.
  • Our band 7 to 8d job descriptions for product management have now been approved under the NHS Agenda for Change process, so we now have full career ladders of job descriptions for design, user research, content and product management. (Still working on delivery management.)

2. What connections did I make?

  • A couple of good chats with digital leaders from other NHS national arms-length bodies. There’s loads of potential for us to do more together as Digital, Data, and Technology professionals working in health and care.

3. How did I uphold our design principles / NHS Constutition?

  • I’m feeding our design principles into a strategy workshop with our Product Development directors next week.

4. How did I make expectations clear?

  • We’re now running 30-minute weekly calls on the organisation change proposal that I’m responsible for creating. Timing is key here because this proposal is just a small subset of NHS Digital’s overall organisation change. We have clarified roles and responsibilities, and are reviewing an action log regularly.

5. What leadership teamwork did I see?

  • I continue to be impressed by my senior colleagues’ thoughtful and practical attitude to the change process. it’s important that we get our organisation right, given the public money involved and the massive task NHS Digital has to do for the health and care system. It’s also essential that we look after our people through this change process.

6. What do I need to take care of?

  • There are a number of moving parts to the change proposal that all need to be in place. That takes time and care, and I may need to prioritise that over other things in the next few weeks.
  • I’m also keeping an eye on my own reaction to change, which is shaped by my past experiences. For 12 years, I worked for Orange/ France Telecom Group, whose former CEO Didier Lombard and other directors are now on trial in Paris over a workplace culture said to have contributed to staff suicides. One phrase from the reports of the trial struck a chord this week. Of Lombard:

« Il a rationalisé beaucoup de choses… Mais il a appliqué à l’humain, des méthodes qui étaient probablement bonnes pour les ordinateurs. »

“He rationalized a lot of things… But he applied methods to humans that were probably good for computers.”

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