Chris Witham

Weeknotes s01e14

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR; Back to a single job or five. Brilliant conversations and working across boundaries.

[week ending: 09/04/2021]

The good

I’m back at #weeknotes! After a 7 week hiatus, I’m back, and hopefully I can stay in the rhythm.

After a week of annual leave, some sunny garden visits to family and a wonderful Easter weekend, I returned to my substantive role at the NHS Leadership Academy full time this week. My 7 month formal (1 year informally) secondment to a Covid-19 response is over. My secondment was a great experience and I really value so many of the connections and friendships I’ve made. After merging into NHS Improvement nearly two years ago, this has been an excellent year long deep immersion into the wider NHS England and Improvement setup. I’ve made some brilliant connections and worked across so many different teams. I’ve also worked across all seven regions and connected with a lot of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) too. I’ve learnt an incredible amount about Information Governance and really had an opportunity to put a lot of rapid learning into good practice on some complicated and fast moving projects.

I started Tuesday morning (yay for bank holidays!) with a sense that a weight had been lifted off. Although my team are delivering a lot of major projects currently, the reduction in cognitive load of only having one job to think about was significant. I still believe my decision last September to only be seconded half time was the right one, but it definintely felt like I was doing more than two halves. Most notably, my diary looks emptier than it has in the last 12 months. Double teams meetings, catchups and the likes certainly fills weeks quickly.

I think if there was one thing we could have done differently on the Covid response it would be more asynchronous communication.

Large video calls were often the default and I’m unsure how productive they were in the very fast paced work we were doing. On one hand, they kept everyone on the same page. On the other, they zapped a huge amount of time.

I’ve really enjoyed having a bit more space in my week. I’ve worked on a proof of concept and even done a bit of coding. I’ve also had some great catchup conversations and reviewed some of our recorded show and tells that I’d missed.

A colleague did point out that I haven’t really got back down to a single job and certainly the last week has had its fair share of Councillor, Governor and Church Leader / Video Editor work outside the “day job”. Lots of bits that complement each other though.

The bad

Not a lot of bad this week. Although a slight downside that this is probably my last four day week for a while. I used up some annual leave in March so only worked four day weeks for a whole month and the bank holiday helped that to continue for a fifth week. I do however see a lot of discussion abut the future of work and the future of remote working. I could definitely see me working a remote first, four day week going forwards. I think it has a lot of benefits and couples with managing energy not time, I think I would see an ongoing increase in productivity. It did however highlight how important routine is for keeping new habits going. I was rock solid on #weeknotes until I started four day weeks. Not working on a Friday meant I didn’t finish the week with writing and so it just didn’t get done. I did ponder going back and writing episodes 8-13 but I don’t think that’s realistic or particularly helpful. Let’s look forwards!

The ugly

Secondments at different bands, changes in pension contributions and understanding pay are not a happy mix. My payslips for the past year are a right scramble and I’ve been having a really hard time understanding them. I was super grateful to my dad for spending a lot of time puttng his years of company director experience to use to help me get to the bottom of it. Not quite there yet and I think my tax return could prove challenging too. The whole lockdown, lost year thing also threw out my regular process for my company tax return and so that all had to be rushed at the last minute, but thankful it was dad to the rescue again!

Notable conversations

  • Absolute highlight of the week was a virtual coffee with Rob Blagden from University of Gloucestershire. We’ve been regular tweet exchangers for a while and I really admire a lot of the work Rob has and is doing. If you’ve not seen his work on Bring Your Own Device, you should check it out! We share a lot of interests around education, local healthcare and digital transformation. I think there’s a lot of experience we can both share to support and develop our teams and some really interesting opportunities that we could exploit working across organisation and sector boundaries. I’ve built some really great relationships across the NHS over the years but I think closer relationships with a technically ambitious university like Gloucestershire could really benefit my work at the NHS Leadership Academy. I’m really excited about where we can take developments in the future.
  • I also had a wonderful conversation with a colleague who has just been elected as a community governor for an NHS Trust. It was great to share some of my experience from my first six months as a governor and how I think a local perspective really supports our national work. We’re planning to have periodic catchups to compare notes and see if we can share experiences about how our different trusts are operating.

Things I’m reading and watching

  • I’ve spent a lot of time on annual leave reading and watching tutorials about Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. For a free piece of software, it is absolutely phenominal. I produced a lot of videos for our church over Easter and DaVinci has been a joy to use. I find it much faster and more intuituve than Adobe Premier Pro and I’m trying to get to grips with the fantastic colour grading capabilities. Here’s an example of what I produced.

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