Weeknotes s02e4

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR; Feeling supported. The rise of the QR code. Training and the processes of death.

[week ending: 28/01/2022]

The good

I’ve felt incredibly well supported in my role as Acting Head of Digital. I’m very conscious about a lack of familiarity with many of the reports, submissions and systems I now need to be regularly engaging with. I’ve made it a priority to engage and learn as fast as I can and seek clarity where I am unsure. This has been met with a lot of very helpful responses and even where answers are unknown, we’ve sought solutions together. Gemma, Harry and Erica have all gone above and beyond to help me get to grips with my new role and help me to be effective. Thank you.

I have also felt well supported by colleagues reaching out and offering assistance. Due to a miriad of diary clashes from switching roles and events still working themselves out, I joined a senior leadership team call late and was met with an empty teams window. I sent a hello message into what I imagined to be an empty Teams void and was so relieved to see “Alan Nobbs is typing…” appear at the bottom of the chat window. Very quickly, Alan had guided me to the correct meeting room and I was able to engage meaningfully having not had to anxiously walk around. Even in a virtual world, we need kind people in corridors to point us in the right direction. Thank you Alan. It prompted me to think again about ways in which we might create opportunities to see people in distress or needing a friendly smile when we don’t sit opposite one another in a traditional office.


I came across this photo of QR codes displayed on an “Information Station” board in Kettering General Hospital. If one good thing has come out of this pandemic, it is that QR codes are finally understood and enough people now know what to do with them that they’re useful. I questioned for a moment whether they were really necessary, “what problem is this trying to solve?”. Surely we have better ways to do this? Intranets, bookmarks, Google? But also, how many times a day do I quickly pull out my phone and take a photo. Possibly of a fine sunrise but equally as often of something I need to remember or want a copy of. With iOS now being able to copy and paste text from images, it’s even more useful. Contrast this with how few times I see a full web address and think about taking out my phone to type it in. I imagine this board also solves issues like new or bank staff not having access to the correct intranet sites, or not knowing where processes and procedures are found. Need something? Walk to the board, take a quick photo, there is the information. Brilliant! I want to think about where else this might be useful. A brilliant analogue and digital blend, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from Kettering.

Talking of quick photos, I snapped this on a morning walk before work. What a great time of the day to be outside in the fresh air. I’ve really been enjoying virtual bike riding and getting my mileage up. I’m almost back to pre Christmas weight too and it feels like all the hard work is paying off.

Wavy clouds ripple in front of a light blue sky. A band of orange spreads out across the middle of the photo from the rising sun. Mist fills the valley below and dark rolling fields are shiloiuetted in the foreground.
84 miles ridden and 11.9 miles walked this week.

The bad

I got up to date with all my mandatory and statutory training (MaST). Not a bad thing at all, it’s right and proper that I’m up to date. However, many of the training packages are uninspiring and are very much a box checking exercise. They are riddled with accessibility issues and the security settings on my corproate laptop prevent the Scorm packages opening in their popups. It doesn’t strike me as a meaningful and engaging way to improve our competencies. Yet across the NHS, millions of hours a year will be spent on MaST. Yes health and safety, display screen equipment, fraud, fire safety and information governance are all important. But if people don’t actually retain any of the information, does it matter if a box was ticked to say we did it? Who does MaST really well? How might we create high quality engaging resources that actually improve the work we do?

The ugly

I attended the funeral of a good friend this week. During the opening of the service, the vicar said these words.

We meet today to remember his life, the things he did and the person he was, and to say thank you to God for him. We meet to say goodbye to him, to acknowledge that he is no longer alive with us, and to express our sorrow at his passing. We meet to commend him to God’s merciful keeping, to draw comfort and hope from God’s Word and his promises to us. Please use this time to bring to God your thoughts and feelings, and allow him to speak to you through his Word.

As I sat there, asked to consider my thoughts and feelings, I remembered the last time I saw him face to face. I’d been to his house to drop some shopping off last year during the lockdown. He’d warmly encouraged us to join him for supper. We refrained several enthusiastic invitations as we spoke for just a moment at his front door. We didn’t have supper with him that night, and never will again in this life. as a result, I knew a little less of the person he was and shared in a little less of his life. I was also shocked as I realised I had not yet ackowneldged his passing. Such have the last two years been when it is quite normal not to see people for an extended period of time. It was helpful to note this, to draw a line and recongise that he wont surprise me with a phone call now. I’m glad we’re now able to have more people at funerals again. They are important ceremonies, celebrations, transitions. I’m proud I knew him and I’m proud we stuck to the rules.

Noteable conversations

So many great conversations this week!

  • A new Elizabeth Garrett Anderson participant with an interest in digital. Really excited to follow her journey.
  • Keith who is on secondment in our team, fantastic to have a different perspective on the work we’re doing and how other teams do certain tasks.
  • Ingrid on the potential implications of VCOD (vaccine on condition of deployment) for Governors and how we look after our people well.

Things I’m reading and watching

  • Smarter Every Day – I’ve got a bit obsessed with Destin’s YouTube channel. I like watching things on YouTube but sometimes it feels like I could be more productive. But watching videos whilst I ride my bike, that’s just a happy distraction from the pain. The exercise is productive enough, but these videos are educational too! I’ve loved exploring submarines and learning about laminer flows. Strongly recommended. Maybe Destin could make our mandatory training a bit more engaging?
  • Othelo – I fancied a change from my usual Headspace Sleepcasts so I’ve been listening to Othelo as I go to sleep using our Library’s BorrowBox app. It’s working, I can’t tell you much of the story.

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