Chris Witham

Weeknotes s02e10

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR; Physically accessible, being heard, Pineapple Day!

[week ending: 11/03/2022]

The good

Physical accessibility

I talk a lot about digital accessibility but last week got an insight into physical accessibility too. My wife Rachel has injured her back and so when we visited the Black Country Living Museum for a family day out, we borrowed a wheelchair from them. Along with the wheelchair, we were provided with an accessibility map of the site and a telephone number to call if we needed to be picked up and brought back to the start. The map colour coded all of the roads and paths as to how passable they were with a wheelchair. There were green routes to most parts of the musum site and even the orange routes were fairly easy for us to navigate. When we stopped for lunch, we got seats at a picnic table with a wheelchair space. So Rachel was able to join us and eat comfortably without having to transfer out of the chair. We didn’t make use of the pickup service in the end as we managed to get onto the double decker bus ride and store the wheelchair in the luggage space. Ramps and drop curbs were easy to come by and all of the traditional buildings that only had stepped access had visbile and available wheelchair ramps.

Really listening

On Monday, I joined a listening session with Em, our Acting Chief People Officer. I’ve been to a lot of listening events over my years in the NHS. Some better than others. This one was excellent. I really felt heard. Instead of a long introduction, or trying to use the time to set out a vision, Em made it clear we could be honest and open and then made way for people to speak. At the end, Em gave a summary of what she’d heard. I was both impressed at how well my comments had been interpreted but also the amount of insight understanding of our team that Em had. Thank you Em.

Pineapple Day

This is now my favourite day of the month. And we’ve only done it twice! Pineapple Day is a whole day each month that my direct reports and I set aside a full day to talk about how we’re getting on and what our plans our. We start with a check in and really try to understand how we all are in and out of work. The world is a weird place at the moment and there is a lot of stuff impacting our teams so caring for them and ourselves is our top priority. Next we build an agenda by putting post-its on a JamBoard. We try to lift our heads out of the operational day to day and get a broader perspective of the landscape, but nothing is off limits, anyone can raise a topic they want to talk about. This month, we talked about big projects (there’s too many currently!), how the team is positioned and our influence, an upcoming business case and proposal from our Digital Learning Content Team and how we’re going to move forwards in developing our data strategy. We’re keen that action and change comes out of these sessions, rather than just being a talking shop and two days later, there’s already been some positive outputs. Next month’s Pineapple Day is already in the diary!

Looking up towards a bright blue sky with English tress in the foreground. Some evergreen and some with no leaves.
8 miles walked this week. 25 miles virtual bike riding.

The bad

I seem to have picked up a cold and have a lot of different things going on. Exercise has taken a bit of an impact as a result. We’ve had a big week at Town Council with two major planning applications for our town receiving permission and plans for our Levelling Up Funding starting to move into delivery. It’s really exciting, but as a volunteer councillor doing bits in my spare time, I’m often left wanting to do more. I do feel very well supported by my peers however with some incredibly helpful comments from Polly and Ian.

The ugly

Forms, processes and paperwork. I’ve been trying to resolve IT orders, mobile phone contracts, recruitment, business plans, establishment control and all sorts this week. That wonderful year end time when it seems everyone you need to speak to is on leave and all deadlines start with yesterday. Still, I made some progress and unlocked some bits. I’ve also spoken to some colleagues about how we can create feedback loops and implement some improvement cycles to make some of the HR and IT pieces easier to engage with. I’ve committed to being a good corporate citizen this year and I’m keen to make it easier for others to engage easily.

Noteable conversations

  • Pineapple Day
  • Team meeting

Things I’m reading and watching

  • Downfall: The Case Against Boeing – a fascinating documentary film about the events that led to the tragic 737 Max crashes. Lots to reflect on about how culture can change, evolve and ultimately impact lives.

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