A year of work in progress – day 109

Day 109 – 24 June 2014

We’ve been running with a simple business model for a couple of years now. I developed it to try and explain in simple terms what we did for our customers. It started out that that we fixed things, maintained things and changed things but after a while we added a couple more and switched the order around.   Now we have our ‘maintain, fix, change, supply and inform’ model.

It is an integral part of our ICT Strategy and was even mentioned in the Strategic group yesterday and so it is getting some traction. We discussed the model at length with all of the team at the customer workshops in a section on our brand and what that means to the customers. There was a degree of concern around some of the words. Do we change or do we develop? Do we inform or do we engage? Every time we tried to play around with the words and find alternatives none of them seemed to be any better.

What became clear though during this exercise was that we needed to have a rethink about the look and feel of the documentation that we produce. We don’t need a brand logo, the Council’s logo is that already, but it would help if we had a consistent way of presenting ourselves through the different media that we use. At this morning’s customer liaison meeting, where we talk about all things customer related, we had a go at defining what we want. We decided that we needed to design a series of options that can be used across a range of materials. We want to have a look and feel which expresses the range of quality services that we offer to our target audiences in a modern and forward looking way. I hope Stuart can do something with that.

Next I had a meeting with Brian, one of the tier 4 managers rearranged from yesterday. He opened my eyes to the interesting world of strategic highways management. I never knew there was so much involved. His remit covers all of the strategic aspects as opposed to the operational ones including drainage and coastal protection, street Lighting, traffic asset management, structures management (bridges and retaining walls), road safety, policy and assets and network management (all adopted highways including verges).

There is really too much to tell but I have to mention the beautifully named SLERP (street lighting energy reduction programme) which is replacing lamps with more energy efficient bulbs which will lead to a huge reduction in energy usage, as well as carbon output.

Another common theme that crops up in these meetings, other than wanting to make a difference, is that people enjoy variety in their work. Brian said the same thing and my mind wandered off to the book Drive and what really motivates us.

Over lunch we had a very short extended management team with nothing much to report other than the possible upcoming strike.

Learning points for today: Flooding can be fluvial or pluvial and I guess one leads to the other; Durham has 3,755 km of road excluding the A1M and the A19 and we get 18,000 requests a year to dig them up and; there are as many acronyms in highways as there are in ICT.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – catching up.

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