Things seem to be slowing down for the summer. And I’m pleased (selfishly) that most of my clients are on holiday. Helpful that one of them is a multi-academy trust too! Every year I say I might get some down-time and every year it becomes crazy. So I hope I haven’t jinxed myself. It’s been a good time to reflect on what’s behind and to plan for what’s ahead. I have a feeling September to December is going to be absolutely manic so planning is essential to ensure I don’t go potty.

WHAT WE’VE HAVE BEEN UP TO

We spent time this week thinking about our systems mapping and service design offer to a number of local authorities and police forces that have asked us to work with them in this regard. Many are struggling to logically capture the challenges in the system and prioritise in a consistent manner how these are to be tackled. The beauty of systems mapping is that it is unwieldy, but it also allows the uncovering of “dark matter” (as like space dust — rules, process and structures that can be invisible but very powerful — Lankelly Chase wrote a simple but great piece on dark matter). It states:

“This often shapes the way the frontline workers, their organisations and those that commission them are able to work. They can also seem fixed and immovable”.

These workshops will help uncover these and help our commissioning partners to question which rules and processes are fixed and which can be changed as they go about their daily grind.

This time of year is a great time to deliver training because most people are more relaxed, and can afford to take the time to spend on learning new things and sharing in these. On Monday I spent a couple of hours delivering a workshop at The Children’s Society. I had a lot of fun delivering it. It was also important to get the group to step outside of their jobs for a few hours and put themselves in the users’ shoes. We also focused on digital prototyping and testing which was new to a lot of people in the room — But was pretty great to see what amazing ideas were created, prototypes and tested in the process.

WHAT WE ARE LEARNING

I heard some great feedback at the prototyping learning workshop about the process and the methodology, which includes:

  • keep your test simple, don’t try to test too many things at once
  • always keep in mind the end user (as John Johnson from Skills2Use always says —think ‘The Spice Girls’ — *sings* ‘so tell me what you want, what you really really want’)
  • focus on a riskiest assumption test i.e. would people use this / want to buy this / engage with this?
  • Ensure you have spotted all ethical considerations
  • Use tools like Marvel to help make the process easier, especially if building digital prototypes
  • That ‘scar tissue’ is both welcome and inevitable when testing and learning

We also spent some time with Catherine Howe on Friday talking through how Cancer Research UK are doing organisational design (wider and bigger than digital transformation but which plays a very important role). I really like how open they are to trying, learning and adapting — but very purposefully — and with the buy in from the senior team and the trustees.

WHAT I’M CELEBRATING

My team. I think they are absolutely fabulous — and have come such a long way and overcome so many obstacles. Thanks Maja, Andy, Nicola and Maha (who is about to go off on mat leave) for all your hard work — it’s such a pleasure to work with you all. We had our team night out this week which started off (of course) at DNA VR where we got to battle zombies, fly through the sky, visit my home in South Africa on google earth VR and play Beatsaber (basically guitar hero with light sabers…what could go wrong?). It was great to bond, share and spend some time out of the confines of the office! We are doing a team outing next week to Great Ormand Street Hospital DRIVE — can’t wait.

Still recruiting for a Partnership Development Manager — A fantastic opportunity to join The Children’s Society’s and Catch22’s newly designed service to support care leavers in London into apprenticeships. Please share this as widely as possible.

Lastly, meeting with the inspirational Tom Brady to chat about what works well in digital transformation. We started our first 10 minutes yapping about South Africans. And he left me with this article: 5 reasons why a British person should work for a South African company. Which I love.

This is my last set of weeknotes for the summer — will pick up in September again after the holidays are over. Not my holidays mind you — August is the best month to get to do those things on the back burner you never seem to get to.

Business Consultant: Charity & Public Sectors | Director of New Ventures: The Children’s Society | Advisor: Social Switch Project; Bethnal Green Ventures; #YANA