Chris Witham

Weeknotes s02e02

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR Roll out, act up, meetings all the way;

[week ending: 14/01/2022]

The good

It was confirmed this week that I will continue acting up as the Head of Digital Learning for Leadership at the NHS Leadership Academy. I’ve been covering this role since November and I’m really excited about the opportunity to continue the work I’ve been doing. The even better news is that Ishani is able to formally continue in my substantive role as Digital Delivery Lead. A role she has done so excellently since I had my accident last May. Ishani joined us a PHP Developer, progressed to DevOps Engineer and continued to work hard on her development alongside leading some huge pieces of work for us.

We’ve recruited a new Senior Programme Lead to support our Learning Management System (LMS) Project this week. It’s great to be able to welcome Tony back to our team. Tony has excellent experience with learning technologies and connections with our regional teams that will really help drive the project forward.

Our roll out of our new Single Sign On service continues at a pace and the team are doing an excellent job all round. We’ve done over 4500 logins in the last 7 days and had less than a handful of support issues. A huge success and a key enabler for our work throughout next year. The migration concludes next week but the possibilities are only just beginning. Thank you team!

We had full town council this week. Our first full meeting since November as we cancelled December due to Omicron and NALC advice. We were quite low on numbers with councillors isolating and suffering from Covid. A real reminder that Covid is very much still with us. But we had some robust discussions and approved our budget for next year that includes £175k per year match funding for the Levelling Up Fund, investments in youth events and raises council tax by less than 40p per week.

I’ve had a good week for wellbeing too with a pre-work walk everyday this week with my walking buddy Andy. Some spectacular sunrises! I also managed to keep up my pattern of doing virtual bike rides while joining staff briefing sessions.

Sunrise over the cotswolds
17.2 miles walked and 13 miles virtual bike riding.

The bad

There’s been an incredible amount of activity this week and we’re in the middle of business planning. I’ve been working hard to get used to all the systems and processes my new role requires of me and that’s meant I’ve flexed my phased return to my detriment. I’ve been so excited and energised about the work we’re doing but it’s had a bit of an impact on my arm and I need to be careful with it next week. As it gets stronger, I forget how badly damaged it was and my need to be cautious. Voice control is fantastic, until you’re on a Teams video call and then it’s not a great experience so the tempation to type is high.

The ugly

Meetings, eugh. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for meetings. But if I accepted all the different invites I receive, I’d fill my week twice over. I’ve declined a few invites this week for routine series of events for regular project updates. It’s important to keep momentum on projects, but I’m not convinced weekly or twice weekly meetings are the right way to do it. A red flag I’ve started looking out for is meetings without an agenda. If we don’t know what we’re going to discuss, participants will be less prepared and the meeting often less productive. Remember that phrase “should have been an email”? If we’re all just listening to an update being read out, is it better to let people read it in their own time, digest it and have a record of it. Better to use meeting time for discussion and interaction. Asynchronous work isn’t a new theme to my weeknotes, but the reading list below shows I’ve been doing a bit more thinking about this and talking to colleagues about how we could do more of it.

Noteable conversations

  • We had a great discussion amongst our Trust Governors this week about how we’re finding the role and how the pandemic has changed our work.
  • It was good to meet with our Trust Chair, Ingrid and talk through some Governor matters. We started a conversation about remote working and what that might mean for the future. Something I’m sure we will talk about more.
  • I joined the NHSEI Architecture Standup for the first time this week. A great discussion with colleagues about target architectures, plans for some NHSX projects and how the group can be most beneficial. The first time I’ve managed to join even though it relates more to my old job. A group I’m keen to keep invovled with though.

Things I’m reading and watching

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