Posts Tagged ‘smart working’

The New Parent Mentoring Scheme and Vision for Staffordshire

Monday, November 4th, 2019

I’m always heartened by colleagues who take matters into their own hands and come up with solutions – it reminds me of the calibre and energy of our people. I spent some time recently with 5 members of the New Parent Mentoring Scheme, an initiative to assist colleagues who are becoming parents for the first time. The group is made up of people who have recently returned to work themselves from maternity and paternity leave, and who are keen to offer support to those going through the same process.  They focus on providing practical and emotional advice and guidance, providing a “buddy” from prior to the birth through to the return to work.  Some of what they have identified is practical, such as our ICT policies which lock accounts out which have not been active for a number of weeks, but a lot of it is about supporting people who are juggling work and parenthood for the first time. I was enormously impressed with the enthusiasm of the group, and I envisage that it will grow in strength, not only in the practical aspects of supporting colleagues, but also in formulating policy which fits with our People Strategy of retaining, developing and recruiting quality people. 

Also this week we had the high level meeting of the Vision for Staffordshire group, attracting senior leaders from across the public and private sectors.  The three areas that we are focussing on are: Smart Staffordshire, in which we are looking to retain the lead that we have built in superfast broadband into the next generations of 5G mobile phones and fibre broadband; a Data Institute in which we are looking to maximise the sharing of data across the public sector to the benefit of Staffordshire’s residents: and Place Branding, an effort to produce a coherent and compelling brand for Staffordshire with due consideration of our history, but focussing on the county that we want to be in the future. It’s a fascinating set of programmes, and it is clear that the County Council sits at the centre, as the organisation with the reach and the mandate to provide the necessary leadership and effort.

Lastly this week, we had a slightly longer Digital Programme Board in which we conducted an audit into the many digital projects that are running across the County Council. We have deliberately allowed colleagues the freedom to run with projects to make best use of the intelligence and enthusiasm in the organisation, and it was heartening to see how much is going on – over 50 separate projects. The other key finding was that there is remarkably little overlap and duplication, which is always a risk with this approach; it appears that we are much better at working across barriers than sometimes we give ourselves credit for. Watch out for the introduction of a chatbot to assist us in taking Smart Working to a higher level – we’re closer than I had hoped. 

Lots going on in August

Monday, August 6th, 2018

With many of our colleagues enjoying some well-earned rest and recuperation, one might expect that life back in SCC would be quieter.  But there is still a lot going on, and I thought that it might be useful to signal some of the more significant activities that affect us all in this blog entry.

We are working closely with a number of external partners on the digital agenda, and I would ask that you take a bit of time to work out where you fit in to these activities, and engage with them as appropriate.  Firstly, we are well into the implementation of Office 365, the latest version of Microsoft Office.  Risual, a Stafford-based software development company are working closely and very well with us across the organisation, to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from this new package.  There are new tools and techniques that we will be using to take us to the next stage in our Smart Working journey.  Have a look at the new package, have a chat with the Change Champion in your area, and think about how you could use this.  For example, is there an another way of holding meetings, rather than face to face, using Teams and Skype?  If you’ve got a good idea, make sure that we hear about it – if you’re not sure to whom to send it, send it to me.

Secondly, we have digital specialists Rainmaker assisting us with identifying and landing digital projects, particularly in the adult social care area.  We have carefully selected them for their record of practical achievement in other local authorities, government departments and private sector businesses, but we must engage with them closely and keep us all focused on delivery.  There is always a temptation for this type of work to default towards working in the strategic sphere, as it is more enjoyable and has more freedom – painting on clouds as a General for whom I once worked put it rather dismissively – but the hard part is making things work in the real world.  We’ve got a good strategy which we’ve worked hard to produce over the past year; now we need to make the jump to the tactics and the delivery.

Thirdly among a large number of other projects, I would highlight the progress towards the Workforce Strategy.  I have been hearing very positive reports from people who have been taking part in the sessions with Sue Evans and our own team from HR.  We will have a first draft coming together in next few weeks, with a view to taking it to Cabinet in October for formal approval.  This is quite rapid progress, and I’m really pleased with it.  Many thanks to all of you who have given your time to ensure that we hear your views, as the important thing with this project is that we collectively feel a sense of ownership.  It is, after all, the basis on which we and our successors will operate as colleagues to support the residents of Staffordshire.

Lastly, if you are planning a holiday in the coming weeks, I hope that you, your family and friends have a relaxing break.

People First Digital Always, and the smart working survey

Monday, July 17th, 2017

There has been some great progress made in recent months on smart working and specifically in the digital arena.  The initial feedback from the smart working questionnaire about which I wrote to everybody last week is very positive, and I would encourage those of you have not yet completed the survey to do so before the closing date this week.  Although it is always reassuring to hear that things are moving in the right direction, and that people feel that their views and aspirations are being addressed, the real value of this survey are the suggestions and ideas from those who are actually doing the job.  You will know far better than me what could be done to improve the way that we do things, and achieve better outcomes for the residents of Staffordshire.

Specifically, I am keen to use digital means to achieve the outcomes that we seek – prosperous, healthy and secure residents.  The overarching idea is that we enable ourselves to do the human aspects of our jobs more effectively by using technology.  It’s not about replacing people with technology, automating processes, or operating machines where one only sees the machine, but rather about using the technology to free us up to concentrate on the things that people do best, namely interact with other people.  We have been thinking about what this would look like in the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), and a suggestion for the strapline is “People First, Digital always”.  I quite like that, and I’d appreciate your views on this, and any other subject.

P.S.  As we enter into Summer Holiday season, can I take this opportunity to wish you, your families and your loved ones, a relaxing and enjoyable break when it comes.