Weeknote: 17 to 21 January 2022

Trees and park in front of Victorian stone-built tenements

What did I experiment with?

Stepping in to look after my wider directorate on an interim basis means I have to support my colleagues to make sense of change while we all have imperfect information. The remote nature of our collaboration right now makes that especially challenging. I realise I’ve spent more time than usual in messaging apps – checking details, trinagulating shared understanding, and generally piecing things together.

What was hard?

A bit of clearing the decks. I had to step back from one thing I was involved in outside my NHS work, because I recognised that I wouldn’t be able to give it the timely, in-person attention it was likely to need in the coming months.

What did I enjoy?

A presentation by our brilliant patient and public voice partners at the NHSX all staff stand-up. I was involved in the early stages of shaping our approach to involving people and communities in digital services, and it’s definitely something we need to keep hold of and build on as we move to new ways of working.

I chaired a steering group for some of our work in Digital Urgent and Emergency Care. I can see from the show and tells that I attend that the teams are making good progress, and delivering things that will be of value to patients, frontline staff, service managers and commissioners. Where there are challenges, we have honest conversations to try to unblock things and find a way forward.

Seeing the response to Imogen’s tweet sharing that she’s shortly joining my team. I share her excitement, and enjoyed sending that email to the team on Friday.

What did I learn?

I reflected with colleagues about a comment that came up in a meeting in which one of the main participants said they didn’t “have the power” to make something happen. At the time I said I found that odd, because the colleague in question has, and regularly wields, a lot of power. Afterwards, I wondered why they were reluctant to recognise it as such. I think it’s worth calling out people who understate their power, whether out of modesty or for other reasons. Power exercised but unacknowledged isn’t a healthy thing in adult working relationships.

What do I need to take care of?

There are many artificial boundaries in our organisations that work against the grain of human-centred digital transformation. The turn of the financial year at the start of April is one of them, and it’s especially ill-matched to the natural seasonality of urgent and emergency care. It is nevertheless a boundary we have to navigate, and a danger point where important details can get lost. I had a chat with my team about how we make sure we don’t miss the significance of anything.

Different people have different feelings about the organisation changes. We’ll all want to know what the changes mean for us, and for the work we came here to do. There may be times when I cannot answer my team’s questions – either because I do not know the answers, or because the timing of communications is decided by other people. I do intend to be as open as possible and ensure their perspectives are heard.

One thing I’m sure of is that the skills, methods, and culture of our Digital Transformation Directorate are needed now more than ever before. If we can navigate the organisation changes confidently, while maintaining our pace of delivery, I believe we can come through with a strengthened position, and with our skilled people working on the most important priorities.

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