Rebecca Industries weeknote #11

This week at Public Health England, with colleagues, I:

  • did the first outline of our digital strategy, whoop whoop
  • re-ordered how I think about the work we are doing on digital as a response to Martha Lane Fox’s review of government on the web. This made me happier than I care to admit.
  • had two glorious days sitting on my own in an office, with no one talking to me. I got so much done!

This week in Rebecca Industries I:

  • spent Wednesday afternoon with the Citizens Advice news team, talking together about how they can use scrum to manage their work
  • said no to something I really wanted to do because I just don’t have the capacity. Ouch. But I feel better for saying no.

Love this – Unpopular opinion: your boss doesn’t owe you a ‘fun’ job

This XOJane article, Unpopular Opinion: Your boss doesn’t owe you a ‘fun’ job by Julie Gross really struck a chord with me.

I like that it reinforced my current takes – which might sound a bit harsh – on some team and management topics. These are topics where I’ve previously taken on what I now see as too much extra stuff in managing my team:

  • you owe your team clear direction, objectives, one-to-ones, performance reviews and development opportunities
  • it is not your responsibility to make them happy or interested in their work, that’s up to them
  • everyone will have to do work that they don’t like at times, sometimes a lot of the time
  • it’s lovely when people develop, but they will make big shifts in their own time, not yours

I liked that Grosse explains how she would do basically anything to keep the show on the road, that lots of that would be invisible to her team, and that she is sometimes the only person who knows how to do it. I like the mix of pitching in and not feeling tasks are below you, dealing with senior people/politics so your team can get on with delivery, and a reminder that yes, there is a reason someone is the boss.

One part of it didn’t work for me. That’s when Grosse talks about more junior people doing ‘all the crap that right now, at this very moment, you don’t want to do.’ A more positive take would be the best piece of management advice I ever got, from the mighty Kathy Settle, Director of Digital Policy and Departmental Engagement at the Government Digital Service. She told me that when there was too much to do (ie always), I should make sure I was doing the thing that was most important at that moment, and that only I could do. Implication: other people in the team should spend time doing stuff they can, and that is less important for you to spend your time doing. Not necessarily the most exciting work, but not crap either. I use that now when I’m too busy. I ask myself what’s the most important thing, and what’s the thing only I can do. It’s so helpful. Thanks Kathy!

Public Health England needs a digital project manager

We are looking for a digital project manager at Public Health England (PHE). The job description is quite wordy so here are the things you need to know. It’s called a programme manager on the job description but I think of it as a project manager role.

We need to find out what our users need and deliver it. We currently have 150 sites. We need to get the right content on GOV.UK and NHS Choices and send the rest to The National Archives. The digital project manager will make this happen. The role reports to me (interim Deputy Director for Digital).

We are building a mini-GDS and this person will be the first full time employee, so I am looking for someone with a pioneer spirit! We are not alone though. We will work with the Government Digital Service and PHE’s online services team as well as colleagues across PHE.

The closing date is Friday. It is currently open to existing civil servants, including on promotion. It is a Grade 7 job.

I can answer questions on Twitter @rebkemp.

Rebecca Industries Weeknote #10

10 weeks since I started project Rebecca Industries. Actually longer because my week notes have not been weekly. Time flies when you’re having fun!

This week at Public Health England (PHE), with colleagues, I have:

  • done an initial user needs workshop for PHE’s health protection content, with the Government Digital Service (GDS)
  • made a mini-breakthrough on our digital strategy with Jonathan Marron, PHE’s director of strategy
  • gratefully received help from GDS on recruitment and agile coaching
  • got to know the NHS Choices team better and taken on the next steps to get the first round of PHE’s content on there
  • made the budget request for more digital people and funding next year – fingers crossed!
  • filled in a lot of forms to start recruiting PHE a permanent deputy director for digital

This week in Rebecca Industries I have:

  • had an amazing planning meeting with my DSRPTN collaborators – what inspiring people!
  • made us a DSRPTN Trello, because without a Trello for a project, I am nothing

Rebecca Industries weeknote #9

This week at Public Health England (PHE), with colleagues, I:

  • did our planning for sprint 1
  • figured out how and when we will get though internal, Department of Health and Cabinet Office spending controls: hopefully before Christmas
  • figured out how and when we will get resource in: hopefully before February
  • did my first presentation to senior colleagues about my plans, they were very receptive and gave helpful input and challenge
  • spent my ‘day out’ for the week at an agency PHE has worked with in the past

This week in Rebecca Industries I:

  • had a great chat with my London borough’s head of policy and programmes about the challenges they’re facing with digital
  • did a LOT of admin

The conclusion from a few of these things is that often when there’s a ‘problem with digital’, it’s actually a wider organisational issue. Not sure whether that’s helpful or not for doing digital things!

Rebecca Industries weeknote #8

In my work with Public Health England, I’m finding out how it feels to be on the other side of the Cabinet Office spending controls. It feels horrible. This week I spent a lot of time, with others, trying to figure out the best way to get in the temporary capability we need to give digital a boost. We will find a way to get to suppliers and spend the money responsibly with them but, my word, there must be a more efficient and effective way to control wasteful spending.

In happier news, we had our first stand ups and our first sprint planning session. Spending controls aside, I’m loving Sprint 0!