Rebecca Industries Monthnote May 2014

This month at Public Health England we have

  • finished the content allocation stage of transitioning the Health Protection Agency website to GOV.UK
  • chosen an agency to work with us on our digital strategy, who we procured through the Digital Services Store (I can say who it is next month when we’ve signed the paperwork)
  • started the formal consultation about how we expand and restructure the digital team
  • done a lot of work with finance to make sure we have the budget we need, as always

We have had great feedback and input from colleagues. The Government Digital Service and the Department of Health are really pleased with the approach we are taking on website transition and the progress we are making. I presented the work we are doing to the meeting of Digital Leaders from all the Department of Health arms length bodies. It was fascinating to learn about what the other organisations are up to and learn from them about what we can do. In particular, NHS Blood and Transplant have similar challenges to us, and it was great to spent some time with Ceri Rose, my counterpart there.

In Rebecca Industries I have settled into my second project. I am working with a big IT company on how they can approach the digital government market in the UK. I have been struck by how similar it is to the Civil Service in some ways. People are motivated by giving the best service to the public. The organisation is dispersed and personal networks are very important. And there are some people who have got digital projects going using their skills and entrepreneurial spirit, but some people who aren’t sure how to start. That’s where I come in!

Alternative annual review

It’s the time of year when civil servants are going through their annual reviews. I can’t say I’m missing it.

But it has got me thinking about how I assess my own performance now I’m solo, in a way that doesn’t involve being put in a box on a grid.

I have made 4 criteria to assess my performance against and measured my performance using a highly unscientific evidence base of what I think, and what people tell me they think. I plan to do this every year.

1. Do people hire me?

So far, 2 organisations have, and I’m working full time.

Verdict: Strong performance

2. Do I achieve what I want to in a project?

So far, a qualified yes. I often have unrealistic expectations of what I can achieve. At Public Health England we took longer to get started than I hoped, but we are cranking through our projects now and are meeting realistic, but stretching, expectations. It’s too early to say on my second project.

Verdict: Promising performance

3. Do the people who hire me like my work?

On the first project, yes they do. On the second project, they do so far, but it’s too early to tell properly. I hope they will!

Verdict: Promising to strong performance

 4. Do the people who work with me like my work?

Thinking about how I’d review myself has made me realize that the feedback of people who aren’t my bosses are very important to me. I get most personal satisfaction in work from a member of my team or colleague saying that they think I’m a good boss or that I’m doing a good job. This is happening more and more at PHE, which is making me very happy. I don’t have a 100% success rate here, though. But I must remember that part of my job is doing things that people won’t like.

Verdict: Improving performance


I conclude that I am doing a good job. I have two development points for the next year: being realistic about what I can achieve within any project and not being dispirited if not everyone likes what I do.

Rebecca Industries Monthnote April 2014

I’ve re-titled these month notes because the numbers made no sense after switching from weeknotes to monthnotes.

At Public Health England, the team put 6 advisory committees onto GOV.UK

We are on track to move 15 sites by our deadline of the end of July. As part of this project, we have decided what work we are going to make lower priority, and we are starting this new way of working soon.

We received and reviewed some proposals for our digital strategy work, through the Digital Services Store. We are going to decide the preferred supplier next week.

I changed how I use my time, because we have lots of things to do and there is no time for extra talking! I now only take meetings if they are to do tangible work with people. This has made a big difference to my working life and I may never go back.

And as ever, I did lots of work with finance and HR so we have the people and money we need.

In Rebecca Industries news, I started work on my second project, which is working with a large IT company. Together, we are figuring out how to approach the digital market in government. After 5 years in the public sector, I’m very pleased to be doing some private sector work again.