A few years ago now I did a lot of work with a number of police forces and I was always struck by the fact that the best of them were very comfortable with the fact that while community policing needs to be fluid and networked any kind of crisis policing needs to strictly hierarchical with a strong chain of command.  I am very ok with that and so was everyone involved.  However passionate an officer was about ‘digital’ (we were still calling it that then….) they all agreed that once you have people running around with guns its best to have someone actually in charge.

What this highlights is that how we take decisions needs to not only reflect what the decision is but also the context in which is made.  In that policing world you might expect a Community Police Officer to be tweeting with a high degree of autonomy but once gold command is in place then they would expect to be part of a much more structured communication process.  I think this is a principle we can usefully apply within organisations.  Think about the context as well as the content of the decision when you work out how to make it.

Outside of a crisis or incident context I find the democracy stack a useful tool for figuring out how to structure decision making.  The stack was something I came up with to explain how you can think about democracy in a system context and also in response to the literature which is so often making a ‘either/or’ of different democratic forms.  At the time I didn’t really think about the effect that context makes on the form of decision making but we are in the middle of an ongoing piece of work at CRUK which is thinking deeply about how you apply the principle of agile first to our governance and the example about policing came to the front of my mind.

The stack is fairly simple and knits together three main forms of democracy:

  • participative democracy which is what you see either in participatory budgeting (good!) or referenda (bad!) but is essentially one person one vote.  It is most effective within highly connected groups which have high levels of knowledge about each others wants and needs (hence the ‘bad’ when applied to national referenda)
  • deliberative democracy is less well known but has started to be used more in the form of things like the citizen’s assembly in Eire which shaped both the abortion and gay marriage referenda.  In deliberative democracy a random but representative selection of people are asked to become informed, debate and then make decisions on something which effects the wider system.  Its hugely powerful and its exciting to see it applied to complex issues like social care here in the UK
  • representative democracy has different forms but its what we tend to think of as democracy – a single representative is selected and then represents a group of people on a whole range of issues within the system.  The range is defined by their sphere or democracy – ie local or national

Centuries of work has gone into thinking about these different democratic forms and how you balance the rights and agency of the individual with the need to actually take effective decisions – and this is key – there is no point in having a decision making mechanism that doesn’t actually help you reach a decision and for most people its better to have a well made decision you don’t agree with than no decision at all.  Techno-evangelists are still looking for ways in which technology ‘fixes’ democracy and enables participatory decision making at scale but this ignores the hugely important factor of trust and the fact that these decisions are taken within living, breathing, human systems.  By humans for humans.

I find democratic theory more helpful than organisational theory when thinking about decision making in the context of a networked organisational because at its heart is this concept of an individual with agency and self-efficacy – the human and not the interchangeable Industrial Age ‘resource’ that underlies so much of our management theory.  I know that many organisations are still designed around that hierarchy but if your goal is to end up with an organisation that is less silo’d at the same time as being more collaborative, adaptive and flexible it seems sensible to look to the thinking which is designed to support a more sophisticated view of decision making then that of a hierarchy where things get rolled up and then down the hill to get an decision.

The point of the democracy stack is to help work out what impact the decision you are taking has and shape your decision making approach accordingly.  In an organisational context the stack translates to mean:

  • Participatory layer:  The question is highly local and only effects the people in that team
  • Deliberative layer:  the question is system wide and actually requires tradeoffs between teams
  • Representative layer:  the question is global and requires a change to the operating context or conditions of the organisation.

The important thing about the democracy stack is the fact that it radiates out from the empowered individual – you can’t set the boundaries at the global and cut them down to fit the team – you need to set the system up to grow from the individual outwards.  The heart of the stack is participatory decision making – that is where it grows from – but it accepts that this does not scale to system level.  

While we might use different methods for different types of questions this works best when you do full stack decision making.  If you just take the representative layer you are back in the world of HIPPO based decisions with the highest paid person taking the decision (hello NHS leadership….).  If you get stuck in the deliberative layer then you end up in decision paralysis as you can never effect the actual work or change the global context and if you make everything participatory you end up in a round of endless negotiation. 

Netflix are often given as the example of what it means to deeply embed participatory decision making which has embedded in it huge agency for individuals as well as the idea that you need protocols and guidance to avoid keep overwriting each other decisions (if you have not read the Netflix culture overview you should) but I think its the fact that they apply innovative thinking to their global governance that makes them revolutionary.  Netflix redesigned their board meetings  to emphasise the need to inform and upskill the leadership as a way of making sure that they make good quality decisions in the realms where there skills are most appropriate.  Throughout the Netflix model you see high quality decision making at different levels all of which rely on trust and information exchange.  There is no passing up the food chain – its about an active conversation within a dynamic system which senior decision makers participate in rather than simply try to control.  Netflix are applying full stack decision making.

It often feels unfair to apply the learnings of an organisation that is both digitally native and also digitally focused – essentially a green field site in the network society to organisations which were born in the Industrial Age but as you start to see agile practices becoming normal and those highly participatory teams ready to start operating at organisational scale its time to do so.  We undoubtedly need to make sure that we are rethinking our board rooms and senior forums to better resemble what Netflix are doing but I want to argue for a minute about the need to put our energy into building the deliberative layer with our organisations.

In the organisational change domain we spend a lot of time talking about how difficult it is the change middle management.  How about instead of criticising them for doing what we have asked them to in order to maintain the status quo we gave them more power to actively manage the tradeoffs between the competing needs from their teams.  How about we give then the space and empower them to deliberate?  But lets make it explicit – they are not simply advocating for the answer that best suits their team they are deliberating to find the best solution for the system.  This could be shifting budget decision from senior to middle managers or it could be about formalising the role of these groups in work prioritisation or standards setting.  You probably can’t do this all at once because you have almost certainly spent the last decade training your middle managers to be cogs in the industrial machine but its where you should be heading.  And if you don’t then they will start doing it without you – forget shadow IT – how much shadow decision making do you have going on in your organisation?

Information is key to high quality decision making and one of the great revelations of the agile mindset (as with participatory democracy ) is that decisions need to be taken where the best quality information is.  Agile teams have long advocated for the need to empower them to make their own decisions and thats right – but only in the context of a system that also empowers people to effectively deliberate the tradeoffs and also provides an effective mechanism for setting the global context.  Each layer in the democracy stack is expert in different aspects of the system, bound together with both the social networks which operate between these layers but also the flow of information – its about the right decision being taken in the right way and with the right information.  One of the big adjustments that this approach is the need for agile teams to make their decision making more transparent and a need for is all to rethink organisational knowledge management in the context of a living breathing decision making system and not simply stored documents and KPIs (have a read of this SSR paper if you want a taster of what this could mean).

Lets try an example:  A decision about a new UX feature is undoubtably better taken at the participatory level by the team who is closest to the user.  But that feature should then go into a pattern library and if it gets outcompeted by a more effective feature – as defined at the deliberative layer which looks at what good looks like across the system – the system would expect that team to update that features.   However a decision about a whole new class of user would need to be taken in the representative layer as this would change the context of the organisation.  Does that work?  I think it could.  

A more familiar example to democracy types;  a decision about what a community need to make it easier to connect to other people locally is best taken exactly there – locally.  A decision about how to shape a shared space like a town centre needs to be done deliberatively.  Decisions about national infrastructure need a representative approach. 

The democracy stack is a theoretical model and we are some way away from full stack democracy but applying the lens of system thinking to something that has previously been an either/or discussion is important and helps theory move into a more practical realm.  Theory helps us see our way through the messiness of the real world and while its never going to be achieved it provides the scaffolding for change that is needed if you are pursing a paradigm change.  In an organisation context I hope the democracy stack is a way of thinking about how we categorise decisions in a way which means we do have the right people taking the right decision at the right time.

And circling back to the policing example and also the Netflix intent to ‘avoid rules’ and be prepared for the democratic system that you build to make sure that your decision making process adapts to the context of the decision.

 

Original source – Catherine Howe

In a new prison pilot, the MOJ prisoner money team tests a digital way of sending prisoners’ money out

Why sending money out digitally is such an important service

Many prisoners earn money working in prisons making clothes and furniture or in prison kitchens and laundries. This work is a key part of the rehabilitation process and helps prisoners gain the skills and experience they need to find employment opportunities on release.

Prisoners take pride in sending the money they’ve earned to their children as a birthday gift or to help a struggling spouse to keep outside relationships healthy.

Working, organising money and keeping family contact all play vital roles in rehabilitation.

What did we do?

In our ongoing quest for cashless prisons, the MOJ prisoner money team thought, well, we’ve helped to get money digitally and efficiently INTO prisons so how can we help to get money digitally and efficiently OUT?

So we visited several public prisons throughout the UK to understand how the money that prisoners earn is sent out. Prison staff call this process ‘disbursements’ and we felt sure we could better the process by making it digital.

What was wrong with the old paper process?

Speaking to both prisoners and staff, we saw the process of sending money to friends and family was lengthy, expensive and involved paper-heavy admin which took up valuable prison staff time and effort. We recognised this as an opportunity to simplify and to make the process more secure and economical.

Previously, if a prisoner wanted to send money to a family member for their birthday, they would need to:

  • fill out a form
  • choose the price of the postage
  • state who they were paying and how they wanted to pay (by cash, cheque or postal order)
  • have their identity confirmed
  • get the form stamped and signed off by a wing officer

Then the staff would need to:

  • deliver the form to the business hub
  • process it to deduct funds from the prisoner’s account
  • if sending out by cheque, write a cheque to be counter-signed by the business hub manager
  • if sending out cash, collect cash from the hub cashier
  • if sending out by postal order, go to the post office, buy the postal order, post it, then archive the form

The whole process could take anywhere between 10 to 14 days.

So how does the new digital service work?

We came up with a basic idea for an online disbursement (payment) tool that could digitise the second part of the process. We sketched out content and designed a basic prototype which we repeatedly tested, then iterated with prison staff until we were confident it would fulfil as many prisoner and staff needs as possible.

Gradually, we understood the varied complexity of where, how and when prisoners’ money could be sent out. And it WAS varied!

Prisoners still needed to fill in the paper form and have their identity confirmed and signed. But once the form reached the business hub, staff only needed to upload the prisoner details into the new digital tool and click to send the payment request directly to the business support service. The support service then would download and process the request, then send out the money.

The digital pilot

When we were happy with both design and content, we piloted the tool with 8 prisons.

The initial pilot started in January 2018 and was a great success. We had positive and helpful feedback from both prison officers and the prisoners themselves. Processing time was reduced by several days and there were no more postage costs for prisoners.

While the pilot rolled on, we made small, informed improvements to the tool and to the way in which we explained the new process to staff. We worked to reduce the processing time further, aiming for 5-7 days.

This initial success gave us the confidence to expand the pilot to an extra 18 prisons and the feedback and improvements cycle began again.

How sending money out digitally is adding value

To prison staff:

  • No more manually copying details from one form to another, meaning fewer mistakes.
  • Less paperwork means more time for prison staff to concentrate on other important issues.
  • Reducing the need to handle cash or to go out for postal orders, in time hopefully it will disappear altogether

To recipients:

  • Simplified process strengthens bonds between recipients and prisoners. This support from people on the outside is crucial when prisoners leave prison.
  • Recipients are notified about money arriving so can expect it within 5-7 days.
  • Money arrives straight into the recipient’s bank account by bank transfer, so they don’t have to pay a cheque in, then wait for it to clear.

To prisoners:

  • Anxiety is reduced because prisoners are told exactly when and how much money has left their account. This is comforting if it’s a birthday gift or payment to a solicitor.
  • Creating a simpler process for prisoners to keep in touch with people on the outside is a step towards better, long-term rehabilitation.
  • Safer option, especially if they’re used to sending out cash.
  • Free. There’s no postage fee.

The Prisoner Money team celebrating the service launch

What’s next?

As we prepare to roll the digital disbursement tool out nationally, we’ll be updating it based on continuing feedback. The new tool sits next to the digital cashbook which is the tool we made for staff to more efficiently process money coming INTO prisons using the ‘Send money to someone in prison’ service.

On top of this work, we’re researching how we can help digitise prisoner ‘discharges’. When a prisoner leaves prison – is ‘discharged’ – the prison needs to give them their money and valuables back in a quick and efficient way.

At present, many prisoners ask for cash when they leave because they know they’ll need money immediately and often don’t have bank accounts. Even when they do have bank accounts, they worry about waiting for the cheque to clear.

Our recent research shows the current process isn’t always the best thing for staff time-wise and for prisoners long-term so we hope this may be another step closer to furthering rehabilitation while also taking cash (and the innumerable problems it causes both staff and prisoners) out of prisons once and for all.

Original source – MOJ Digital & Technology

A level results are here. A date in the calendar that has moved from the traditional newspaper to Facebook Live.

Back in the day, newsrooms would have sorted the jumping for joy results picture.

There’s still a bit of that around but its interesting to hear that some news organisations don’t cover it anymore. That means a chance to celebrate good work from students by the council comms team.

This short Facebook Live from the trailblazing Newcastle City Council team does just that:

It’s interesting to see the news values operate just as well online as they do in print.

In print, students’ Mum, Dad, family and friends would have been the audience.

In digital, the same audience is true. Rather than heading to the paper shop for the pic the audience now likes and shares.

Refreshingly, the live video here doesn’t have a councillor. Why? Because this is a day for some students just to celebrate.

There are risks inherent in a live broadcast and this navigates this by having it with students who have pre-opened their results away from the risk of others sobbing with disappointment in the background. There’s also little chance of it being gatecrashed by less happy pupils.

The council page isn’t called the council page at all. It’s ‘Our Newcastle, Our Great City.’ I love that. The aim surely is to reach an audience and give them information. There is a lesson here.

Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?

“Sometimes, the explanation is the policy”

— Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve 2014-2018

The psychological and behavioural economics literatures have had a transformative impact on how we understand people’s financial and personal decision-making. Studies have shown that more information isn’t always better, that defaulting people into saving can help them save more, and that sending customers the best tariffs for them can improve energy switching.

Perhaps surprisingly, there has been relatively less research on how behavioural insights applies to macroeconomic policy – and in particular monetary policy. Yet people’s beliefs and how they respond to policy decisions are crucial.  Central banks’ targets for inflation are more likely to be effective if they are widely understood and credible. But only around a quarter of the public can typically identify the correct range for current inflation, even when given a small number of options to choose from.

More broadly, poor comprehension of economic policy and low trust in economists and economic institutions can undermine economic stability and lead consumers to make worse personal finance decisions. The Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane has diagnosed economics with a “twin deficit” problem comprising an “understanding deficit” and a “trust deficit.”

So how can we better communicate economic information?

To understand how macroeconomic concepts and policy can be better communicated to the public, the Bank of England and the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) teamed up to test four different ways of communicating the Bank’s February 2018 Inflation Report summary and interest rate decision:

1. Traditional Monetary Policy Summary, published by the Bank in February 2018

  • Typical of content that central banks traditionally publish

2. Visual Summary, published by the Bank in February 2018

  • Brought in by the Bank at the end of 2017.
  • Designed to make the Bank’s inflation report more accessible, and contains simplified language and visuals.

3. Reduced Text Summary, designed by the joint BIT/Bank team

  • Same structure and content as the Visual Summary.
  • Aimed to reduce informational complexity by reducing the amount of text—535 words instead of 1069.

4. Relatable Summary, designed by the joint BIT/Bank team

  • Aimed to make the material more relatable to people’s daily lives, drawing on evidence that personalisation and making information relevant to individual circumstances can increase engagement (Garner 2005; Behavioural Insights Team, 2012), and that expressing costs in absolute terms (e.g. pound values) instead of relative terms (e.g. as percentage changes) can improve comprehension (Gigerenzer and Edwards 2003; Spiegelhalter 2017).
  • Restructured the information to make it clearer why the Bank took the decision it did, relating the decision to prices, pay and jobs. Translated economic concepts into everyday terms, for instance explaining what a 2% inflation rate means for a basket of goods next year in pound terms.

We tested these four versions on BIT’s online experiment platform, Predictiv, which allows us to run online randomised controlled trials. Respondents received one of the four versions, and had to answer a series of comprehension questions, and then some questions on trust and perceptions.

Our ‘relatable’ summary was the most effective in increasing comprehension and trust

The Relatable Summary increased comprehension scores by 42% compared to the traditional Monetary Policy Summary and by around 13% compared to the Bank’s Visual Summary. These scores were based on a series of five questions designed to test direct comprehension of the material, for instance, testing whether readers understood how prices were changing.

We also tested whether people could apply the information they had read about prices in two scenarios, one on budgeting for grocery shopping, and one on salary negotiation. We found that:

  • The Relatable Summary was the most effective in getting people to answer ‘correctly’ what a basket of groceries costing £100 should cost next year, more than doubling the proportion of correct responses compared to the Monetary Policy Summary.
  • The Relatable Summary was also the most effective in getting people to answer ‘correctly’ how much a friend’s £100 daily salary should go up by to cover costs of living next year, increasing the proportion of correct answers by 15 percentage points compared to the Monetary Policy Summary.

The Relatable Summary also improved participants’ rating of the information for trustworthiness compared to the Monetary Policy Summary, and was the most effective at improving perceptions of the Bank.

What’s next

We think our findings on the impact of relatability can usefully inform how central banks, other economic institutions and Government communicate economic information to the public.  It’s a first step on the way to integrating behavioural insights into macroeconomic policymaking.

But there’s also much more to do to improve public understanding of economics and trust in economic policymaking. Key questions we’d like to undertake further research on include:

  • Building on the concept of relatability: What specific aspects of ‘relatability’ make it so effective? Can we extend this approach to better communicate uncertainty in economic forecasts? In what other ways could ‘relatability’ be used to improve public understanding in economics and economic policymaking?
  • Deepening public engagement: What techniques might help overcome biases in how people process economic information? For instance, can we design information to reduce readers’ confirmation bias – the tendency for people to seek out and evaluate information to suit their preconceptions?
  • Understanding the channels through which most people come across economic information: And perhaps most importantly, how does the media affect people’s understanding of economic news – and what does this mean for how institutions such as central banks should seek to improve public trust and understanding of economics?

Original source – Behavioural Insights Team

Download image from Brene Brown.comI want to start with saying that the purpose of the team I’m part of is to help develop leadership capability in order to create a Devon where people can live their life well, however for me this has presented some personal challenges.

Some of the challenges for me have been around my own capacity and capability to learn and grow.  Without understanding this I would not be able to support leaders to learn and grow effectively.

This is why alongside learning more about how to achieve purpose within my role, I’ve had to consciously develop and understand myself. This has led me to understand a number of things which have been quite painful but incredibly liberating and transformative.

One of the areas that has been the most transformative for me is understanding and learning about shame.

Yes shame…that feeling you are not enough.

Lets just hold the space here for a minute. I’m conscious that even talking about it can trigger it in other people…so I understand if you need to park this and come back later.

When I talk about shame in this post, I am referring to the understanding shared by Dr Brené Brown (twitter)

I want to acknowledge straight away that I am incredibly privileged to be working within and alongside a team who allow me to show up and be vulnerable every day. So a big Thank you to Roxanne, Sara, Kelly, Louise, Kevin, Martin and Lewis. Without their support I would not be able to even write this post.

I wrestled internally about whether to write this post or not but I feel so passionately about this that I want to share my experience, it is likely to be through a number of posts as I am finding the process of writing about this somewhat healing and therefore I will find value in writing more than one post. I also hope that others may be curious to learn more or want to share their experiences too – I’ve learnt that shining some light on this stuff helps. I hope that people feel able to share this post wider.

In my learning about shame, what hit me the hardest was when I started to look back on my reflections and learning in this blog and what I started to see through a different level of understanding was that shame was and is pretty much in every single post I wrote and the underlying shame trigger behind my posts was “I’m not good enough”, there is a number of variations of this, I’m not tough enough, I don’t fit in, I don’t belong etc.

What I know is that along with reflecting on myself, I started to think about all the people I connected with over the years, all the people I’ve worked with over the last 20 years or so in Local Government/Central Government.  I now understand that many, many, so many people were struggling with and dealing with shame – it is sad and hard to say, but it is endemic.

Some of the areas I started to think about and reflect initially on were around some of the connections with people from outside my organisation.

I’ve learnt that all of my behaviours when involved in Local Gov Digital were driven from and in response to dealing with shame and that created unintended consequences for myself and others around me, such as controlling situation and not letting go, to mentally running away and not engaging and some variations in between.
In some way the network itself was a shame club, a group of people who didn’t feel good enough, in particular around not being valued or good enough within their own organisation. The group has achieved some very positive things but in what we never did was address the reasons why we came together in the first place – “shame”.
The very first meeting had been full of stories of shame and yet we didn’t know how to connect to it or even understand it…I’m looking back at those times with compassion and I know that my actions were not always from a place of integrity and If i ever caused people shame then I apologise as I did not possess the critical awareness to have made different choices.

I also realised that the tension I felt between internal and external was caused by shame. I know that when looking back, the biggest shame I suffered came as a direct result of winning the Guardian Leadership Award and subsequently the accolades in the LGC 100…at the time I was humbled and proud but those feelings were somehow empty and un-fulfilling, on reflection it had triggered a significant shame trigger and shame spiral which I’ve only recently managed to resolve.  The tension I felt was a shame of never been good enough as an internal employee as opposed to the perceived success of validation I received when engaging with other organisations.  I spent so much time and effort trying to prove myself that I often forgot about who I actually was.  I am now asking why is it that cultures do this, why is it that we use shame as a tactic on other people?

This lead me to think about and reflect on the cultures of organisations and why starting a conversation about shame can act as a catalyst for cultural and societal change. So I hope this short post and subsequent posts can or in some way might help.

I know that this is incredibly hard work and that it takes discipline and practice to help understand, work through and develop resilience techniques, but I also know and am learning that it is healing me and helping me grow so that I am capable to continually learn.

I’m only at the beginning of my journey into understanding and being open about understanding and working with shame.

What I know most of all now is;

As I am today, I’m enough

and that, that very simply fact, makes me happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are curious to know and understand more about shame then i would highly recommend watching the following Ted talks

 

 

Original source – Carl’s Notepad

Download image from Brene Brown.comI want to start with saying that the purpose of the team I’m part of is to help develop leadership capability in order to create a Devon where people can live their life well, however for me this has presented some personal challenges.

Some of the challenges for me have been around my own capacity and capability to learn and grow.  Without understanding this I would not be able to support leaders to learn and grow effectively.

This is why alongside learning more about how to achieve purpose within my role, I’ve had to consciously develop and understand myself. This has led me to understand a number of things which have been quite painful but incredibly liberating and transformative.

One of the areas that has been the most transformative for me is understanding and learning about shame.

Yes shame…that feeling you are not enough.

Lets just hold the space here for a minute. I’m conscious that even talking about it can trigger it in other people…so I understand if you need to park this and come back later.

When I talk about shame in this post, I am referring to the understanding shared by Dr Brené Brown (twitter)

I want to acknowledge straight away that I am incredibly privileged to be working within and alongside a team who allow me to show up and be vulnerable every day. So a big Thank you to Roxanne, Sara, Kelly, Louise, Kevin, Martin and Lewis. Without their support I would not be able to even write this post.

I wrestled internally about whether to write this post or not but I feel so passionately about this that I want to share my experience, it is likely to be through a number of posts as I am finding the process of writing about this somewhat healing and therefore I will find value in writing more than one post. I also hope that others may be curious to learn more or want to share their experiences too – I’ve learnt that shining some light on this stuff helps. I hope that people feel able to share this post wider.

In my learning about shame, what hit me the hardest was when I started to look back on my reflections and learning in this blog and what I started to see through a different level of understanding was that shame was and is pretty much in every single post I wrote and the underlying shame trigger behind my posts was “I’m not good enough”, there is a number of variations of this, I’m not tough enough, I don’t fit in, I don’t belong etc.

What I know is that along with reflecting on myself, I started to think about all the people I connected with over the years, all the people I’ve worked with over the last 20 years or so in Local Government/Central Government.  I now understand that many, many, so many people were struggling with and dealing with shame – it is sad and hard to say, but it is endemic.

Some of the areas I started to think about and reflect initially on were around some of the connections with people from outside my organisation.

I’ve learnt that all of my behaviours when involved in Local Gov Digital were driven from and in response to dealing with shame and that created unintended consequences for myself and others around me, such as controlling situation and not letting go, to mentally running away and not engaging and some variations in between.
In some way the network itself was a shame club, a group of people who didn’t feel good enough, in particular around not being valued or good enough within their own organisation. The group has achieved some very positive things but in what we never did was address the reasons why we came together in the first place – “shame”.
The very first meeting had been full of stories of shame and yet we didn’t know how to connect to it or even understand it…I’m looking back at those times with compassion and I know that my actions were not always from a place of integrity and If i ever caused people shame then I apologise as I did not possess the critical awareness to have made different choices.

I also realised that the tension I felt between internal and external was caused by shame. I know that when looking back, the biggest shame I suffered came as a direct result of winning the Guardian Leadership Award and subsequently the accolades in the LGC 100…at the time I was humbled and proud but those feelings were somehow empty and un-fulfilling, on reflection it had triggered a significant shame trigger and shame spiral which I’ve only recently managed to resolve.  The tension I felt was a shame of never been good enough as an internal employee as opposed to the perceived success of validation I received when engaging with other organisations.  I spent so much time and effort trying to prove myself that I often forgot about who I actually was.  I am now asking why is it that cultures do this, why is it that we use shame as a tactic on other people?

This lead me to think about and reflect on the cultures of organisations and why starting a conversation about shame can act as a catalyst for cultural and societal change. So I hope this short post and subsequent posts can or in some way might help.

I know that this is incredibly hard work and that it takes discipline and practice to help understand, work through and develop resilience techniques, but I also know and am learning that it is healing me and helping me grow so that I am capable to continually learn.

I’m only at the beginning of my journey into understanding and being open about understanding and working with shame.

What I know most of all now is;

As I am today, I’m enough

and that, that very simply fact, makes me happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are curious to know and understand more about shame then i would highly recommend watching the following Ted talks

 

 

Original source – Carl’s Notepad

As Zarino explained in his recent blog post, we’ve recently spent time talking to road safety advocates and cycling groups, as we prepare for some big improvements to Collideoscope.

This has resulted in a shortlist of the tickets we’ll be working on, which you’re welcome to browse (and comment on, though this requires a Github account).

Collideoscope, like many mySociety projects, is a website of two halves. On the one hand, it invites those involved in a cycling collision or near miss to contribute information to a database; on the other, it provides an output of all that aggregated data for planners, researchers, campaigners and anyone else who will find it useful.

We’ll shortly be making some changes to the site so that its purpose and functionality are crystal clear; but in the meanwhile the next important step was to import the most recent batch of STATS19 data.

STATS19 is the form the police fill in when road accidents are reported, lending its name to the dataset released annually by the Department of Transport. We include this data on Collideoscope alongside our users’ reports: we just take the reports which refer to cycling incidents, and with this latest update we’re now displaying everything from 2013 up to 2016, the most recent data available.

That means, when you browse the site, you can see at a glance how many incidents have occurred in a specific area, not just from our users but from the primary national accident database too. Just click the checkbox (‘show reports from the Department of Transport’) at the top of the page to include them on the map.

So that’s our most recent bit of housekeeping; now watch this space for some bigger changes to Collideoscope.

Image: Charisse Kenion

Original source – mySociety

I’m a senior product owner at DWP Digital and I’ve just returned to work after the birth of my second child. She is five and a half months old. My husband and I are sharing our parental leave and taking it in turns to look after our daughter for six months.

I took a year of maternity leave when our first child was born. I have a wonderful bond with my daughter and saw all her ‘firsts’. However in that year I missed out on promotion opportunities and my team disbanded when the project they were working on moved to London, which was a bit disorientating when I returned. I also missed work; it’s something I really enjoy and a big part of who I am.

Rachel Woods, product owner, DWP Digital

Rachel Woods, senior product owner

Arranging shared leave

Arranging shared leave was relatively straightforward. A few of our HR forms are still geared predominantly towards maternity leave and bizarrely our guidance didn’t actually describe the scenario of the mother as a civil servant. However, I feel very lucky to work in an environment that means that I had no qualms about requesting shared leave.

My husband works in the private sector and we were a bit more uncertain about how his request would be greeted. In fact everything has gone really smoothly and quite a few of his colleagues have shown an interest in how he’s getting on and it’s now something they are willing to consider.

I’m a big believer in the fact that parents are a partnership and it doesn’t seem right to me that one parent should be able to have the monopoly on time spent with a child. I also think that if we want equality between genders at work we need to normalise the behaviour that a parent, not a mother, will take time off for caring responsibilities from time to time.

Returning to work

Some things have changed while I’ve been on maternity leave, but the way our teams work make the process of returning to work or joining the organisation a lot easier. As an agile team, we work in the open so everything we do is displayed, managed and worked on by the team on the walls in the area where we sit. It isn’t difficult to find information or to catch up.

Our work is prioritised so we’re always clear about what’s the next most important thing to do. It’s also a highly collaborative environment so you don’t work in isolation. This means your colleagues have a vested interest in making sure you understand what’s going on and how your support is needed. Because of all this, after a few days it felt like I’d never been away.

Rachel Woods with colleagues

Rachel Woods with colleagues

Working in the Civil Service

I feel very lucky to work in the Civil Service. I was pregnant when I applied for and got my last promotion. I know women working in other sectors can have quite different experiences. I am hoping that as more and more people take advantage of shared parental leave employers won’t be able to make assumptions about whether someone will take time off work or not, as either parent will be equally likely to.

That’s also why I want to encourage more women to share leave with their partner. Not only is it good for equality at work but it’s also good for equality at home. Many women find themselves acting as a primary carer for children even when they are back at work. Sharing your leave enables each parent to learn how to care for and comfort their child.

There’s more to do on gender equality

There is still more to do. My husband is still in the minority and constantly asked for my details at local centres because records are based on the birth mother’s records. He can choose from multiple ‘mother and baby’ groups to attend and always has to double check that the baby-changing facilities are not just in the ladies’ loo. However we both recognise how wonderful this time is, how lucky we are as a family to have this experience and I am so proud that my daughters will see their mummy and daddy working together as a team.

Original source – DWP Digital

DAY 3

Well what would you do next…? – John Armstrong-Prior

Making decisions is one of the most painful areas for me, in life and in work, so I felt I had to go to the workshop that would test and exercise this.

It’s a constant battle whether to practice and exercise the things I am already good at, or work on improving the things that I’m either less naturally talented for, or have less practice and inclination with. (This is an idea from Meri Williams’ workshop “Be a brilliant people developer”, where she suggests that it’s much preferable to become awesome at the things you’re already good at, rather than mediocre at the things you suck at.

Decisions (however much I wish I could relegate them to “Things I suck at and are therefore less useful to become mediocre at”), are an inherent part of life as a human, so getting some practice in a development environment, as it were, is what I decided this time.

We can all take good decisions with hindsight! We learned about taking time to step back and evaluate your choices, what information you have, what information you know is missing, and what are the potential areas where lurk the things you don’t know you don’t know. Collaborating, rather than feeling you have to make the decision on your own. Owning the decision and dealing with the consequences.

Negotiating For Your Life – Portia Tung, Tom Roden, Marco Milone

This is another area where I feel uncertain on my feet. I tend to take people at their literal word, and assume that a no is a no, a deadline is there for a reason, and a sum of money is all that’s available. Seen from this perspective, negotiating always seemed presumptuous.

I was not the only one worried about coming off as manipulative, as one of the participants mentioned after the practical exercise. We were equally in agreement that often, if we receive what we asked for immediately, we are worried that asked for too little. (Especially when it involves salaries.)

The power team of Portia, Tom, and Marco set out to change these assumptions, by presenting the negotiation process as an attempt to achieve a mutually agreeable outcome for both parts. We’re both trying to make a thing happen, and we’re looking for ways around the obstacles.

Don’t limit yourself to what you think is the maximum you can obtain from a negotiation – start with your ideal outcome, even if it seems too much.

Allow silences – often people are mulling things over in their heads, and if given the space and silence into which to speak, they’ll come up with alternatives. People are often uncomfortable with silences, but someone will break first! 😉

Start by articulating your goals to yourself, then reshape them into arguments for why what you’re proposing is advantageous for the other person(s).

In the context of a negotiation, “No” is the beginning, not the end. (Personal note: some things are NOT a negotiation. A “No” is not an invitation to push people’s boundaries.)

Go for the “that’s right”. Understand the other person’s point of view, reformulate it and repeat it back to them for confirmation. Then come up with alternatives and solutions.

 

Strangle Your Legacy Code – Amitai Schleier, Tim Bourguignon

I had a hard time getting into this session. I think the combination of an unfamiliar language, an unfamiliar programming technique (mobbing), and the tiredness of being there for almost three days all played a part.

I left halfway through, so I don’t think it’s fair to give any other commentary given that I haven’t seen the process reach its conclusion.

 

Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong – Giovanni Asproni

My brain was a bit fried by this point, and I joined a little over the halfway mark, so all I can say is that I’m going to be looking for the slides and blog post(s).

Original source – dxw

I’ve been working at the BBC in the Datalab team for a few months now and thought I’d share a little about what we are up to because (a) I think it is pretty darn interesting and (b) it is a bit different from things I’ve done before due to the ‘interim’ nature of my role.

For the avoidance of doubt I am still working for Notbinary — I’m enjoying being a part of something so new and having the opportunity to help shape the company — and I would never have had this great opportunity at the Beeb without them.

I’m here alongside Mr David Carboni — he is here as interim Tech Lead and I’m here as Product Lead (shocker eh!?). This is a model we are keen on exploring — David and myself (and perhaps a senior UXer or Architect depending on needs) embedding in teams to help with some short-term improvements while getting to know the people better and building up an understanding of what longer term opportunities there are to really fine tune performance. I’m not keen on being ‘body shopped’ or basically being a contractor in all but name so this is a nice way to frame my projects I hope.

So what is the Datalab? The vision I am trying out at the moment looks something like this;

Bring together everything we know about all BBC content in one place and use machine learning to create additional metadata so that we can identify content which is most relevant to individuals’ interests and context.

Build a data ‘platform’, which can be extended by other BBC teams, and which allows many different products to use the data to create more consistent and relevant experiences for our audiences.

Basically it is a multi-disciplinary team but the disciplines are data science, software engineers and data engineers. It is a platform play and our ‘users’ are other BBC teams with audience facing products.

At the moment we are tightly coupled with an app team — reworking an existing product to prove our approach out in the wild. Working on the Google Cloud Platform which team member Beth Anderson brilliant summed up here → https://medium.com/bbc-design-engineering/how-we-deliver-with-gcp-at-the-bbc-1c9812acf3a1. We have been mainly preoccupied with implementing the infrastructure, dealing with the deficits in our data and providing some basic recommendation engines.

To be honest while this has been fun — and I’ve loved being back in the middle of a product team day-to-day — it is the longer term ambitions that are really exciting. The plans for a machine learning platform (operating on a kind of ‘inner source’ model that I have become pretty fascinated with) and the ‘Content Graph’ — which amazingly despite the use of RDF and mention of ‘triples’ I still think sounds great (friends who know my feelings on Linked Data will know how amazing this is!).

Increasingly my personal focus has become trying to provide teams with that ‘psychological safety’ that Google talk about and to give them the space to really become self-organising. This isn’t always an easy thing to do as a consultant as there is something of an expectations of ‘quick fixes’ (I’ve certainly expected this in the past on the other side of the table) but I think a balanced approach supports the long term health of the team best.

Datalab and the app team

The team itself is a real highlight of the project. Young, extremely smart, opinionated but willing to be steered — they really have been a pleasure to work with. My god they make feel old though. I mean I’ve been doing this work almost as long as some of them have been alive 😉

I’ve enjoyed actually facilitating retrospectives and even rolled out the Spotify Healthcheck. The ‘firebreak’ idea I pinched from GDS didn’t really work as well as I hoped but it was nice to have the opportunity to try it out — I totally believe it has a place in the wider cadence of a product team but I need to manage it better in the future.

Not one for this team — but someone who sits nearby is guilty 🙂

Part of my role here as well is helping with the hiring of my permanent replacement. As anyone who reads my blog or has heard me talk in the last couple of years will know I have opinions on hiring practices. I don’t really know why but I expected it to be different — easier — at the BBC. It really hasn’t turned out that way. Despite the brand, the location, a really interesting role, nice offices, great team and a surprisingly brilliant salary (albeit not a public one) it has not been easy to find someone so far. In fact it has been hard work (and the Tech Lead one has been even harder!). The competition for people in London is insane!

Anyway it has been interesting — I tend to talk about product people as ‘humanities’ or ‘(computer) sciences’ and I’m definitely the former and products as ‘platform’ or ‘public facing’ and traditionally I do the latter. This team really needs a ‘(computer) sciences’ style product manager with experience of doing ‘platform’ products. So I have had to do my share of learning on the job!

Also there is a lot to be said for having had an office with air conditioning (and living in a hotel Monday-Thursday with the same) this summer!


Datalab days was originally published in Product for the People on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – Product for the People