A year of work in progress – day 51

Day 51 – 19 March 2014

I’ve been asked to speak at the first Dynamo conference at the beginning of May.  Dynamo is a new group that has been set up to represent the ICT sector in the North East.  I’ll not get carried away however as I think there will be forty of us speaking on that day but one of them will be Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s Technology correspondent.  I’ll find out more next week.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished the book ‘The Business Model Innovation Factory’ by Saul Kaplan.  I was given it by John from a company called Dynalucid who helped us out with our first Digital Durham conference.  (I must get in touch with John as I haven’t spoken to him in ages).  I don’t know why it has taken me so long to read it but it’s probably because I get stopping every five minutes to tweet quotes from it.   I’ve stuffed the book with bits of Post-It Notes to remind me of parts to come back to.  (Other repositionable notes are available).

Its strap line is ‘how to stay relevant when the world is changing’.  Our world is changing very rapidly and it is full of useful and insightful stuff.  Highly recommended!  I might get something useful for my Dynamo presentation.

It was management Wednesday but I started the morning off with my first Transformation and Innovation Leadership team meeting (or TILT for short) in Children and Adult Services (CAS).  When most people think of the council, refuse waggons and street scene is what normally comes to mind yet the majority of the budget is now spent on care.  Just like the rest of us CAS is having to cut its cloth accordingly.

What a fascinating meeting.  Technology is going to be essential in social care to improve service delivery, its quality and its consistency.  It has the potential to save some money as well.  It’s very easy to forget that our job is not to save money but to care for those who need it.  There is a population out there that we are currently engaged with but perhaps a much larger group who will need to come to us as legislation changes.  The most important thing for ICT Services though is for us to be in on these issues from the start.  Engagement is paramount.

The informal SMT was next.  I told a story about some Guerrilla Working I got involved in up at Northumbria House.  I arrived a little early for my meeting.  The receptionist asked if I would like to wait in his office but instead I asked if I could sit at one of the empty desks.  Her eyebrows rose at my unusual request but she was happy to indulge me.

No sooner had I logged in when I heard someone say ‘this computer is rubbish’ (or words to that effect).  As Head of ICT Services it was difficult for me to ignore such a comment and for a few seconds I grappled with my internal daemons as to whether or not I should go and speak to them.  Doing the right thing won and I got up, went over, introduced myself and asked what the matter was.

What followed was a useful conversation with lots of questions about the state of their ICT, how soon it would be replaced and their preference for laptops over fixed desktops.  All of these I was able to respond to and raised them with their manager.  Engagement is still paramount!

Neil went on to tell a story about how Hilary’s Blinds had provided him with good service.  They had asked him to pay in advance but had refused.  ‘If you want my business then I’ll pay at the end’ was his response and they agreed.  This led on to a discussion of how we face our customers with policy.

In the afternoon there was another Digital Durham joint programme meeting to try and understand the Superfast Extension Programme.  The conversation was so complicated that I couldn’t write it down but can I say that the first chicken was laid by a chicken like creature and that’s about as much as we could agree.

Learning points for today:   It could be a rabbit or a hare; I’m not the only head of blame; CRM is much more than an application; you’ll get hung up using chessboard analogies and; there is no antonym for endemic.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – Lots to do and life is filled with frustration.

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