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Weeknotes 8-14 June 2019

I’m writing this on the train up to Leeds on Monday morning, rather than reflecting at the end of the working week. Even with just a couple of days gap it’s hard to remember everything that went on last week. The meetings in the calendar don’t reflect what the worries were, or all the chats that happened around them. The theme, if that’s the right expression, was of trying to get a better grip on what posts the Department’s Major Change Portfolio funds, and whether those posts are part of Change Group, another group but crucial to delivery of change, or as a consequential impact of the change that is being delivered. It’s a big task, and a necessary one to help us plan for the future. Overall the business cases cover around 2,500 posts across the organisation. A fair chunk of these seem to be directly delivering change, but far from all of them.

So the data team have spent the week crawling through the individual workforce plans for each of the programmes to understand which category each identified post belongs to. Mostly one post at a time. This process has, as you might expect, lead to more questions than answers. We’re clearly at the beginning of a rather long piece of work and we’ll need to talk to lots of people over the next few months to get everything suitably clear.

This Week

This week I have mostly:

  • Worried about workforce planning, and documented the assumptions that we need to make to expand from a Project Delivery profession workforce plan to a Change Group workforce plan. I’ve also had several meetings and conversations on the subject over the course of the week. Broadly it looks like the PD profession are about 60% of the people involved in directly delivering change. DDaT colleagues are the next biggest chunk, being about 30% of the total. In addition about 30% of those funded by change business cases aren’t directly delivering it. We need to do more work to firm up these assumptions.
  • The Project Delivery Fast Stream bids all went back to IPA after we’d addressed all the comments on the feedback from the QA round. These will be getting matched this week and next week. We won’t find out details of any of the fast streamers matched to the roles until eight weeks before they start. Start dates will be either the beginning of September, or October.
  • I had possibly the worst video conference experience ever on Monday. We had a business planning session via the new Skype Room Service (SRS). Over the period of about an hour it crashed ten times. The one in my room in London gave me the blue screen of death (BSOD) six times. The response from tech support was to contact BT. Not helpful at all. I’ve had four meetings on this new system and only one of them has stayed fully functional for the whole meeting. I think I’ll be giving it a miss until I know that the problems have been fully resolved.
  • I participated in a ‘Freedom of Movement’ workshop with several other government department Project Delivery Profession teams. We discussed how we can pilot an internal brokering scheme within government. To start with we decided to look at those G7 & G6 that have been identified as looking to swap roles from the recent talent management discussions. We’ll use a model like the Fast Stream to keep them on the home department payroll to avoid messing pay up. We’ll also go for a relatively short loan period, 6-9 months. We’re hoping to be able to run a pilot scheme with maybe 5-6 people in the early Autumn.
  • Shortly before that workshop I had one of our regular bi-monthly catch-ups with CCTUS. The agenda covered the outcomes of our internal brokering pilot (no volunteers from the pilot group, but we’re looking again at it); change group transformation; reward and recognition; and how we engage with programmes on people related changes that are only at that lower level.
  • I had a couple of academic interviews over the week. One was from one of our internal leadership apprentices who asked me lots of interesting questions on government finance for the module they were studying on how we budget and monitor performance. The other was from a PhD student as part of Project X, which was on the theme of how we build better capability to delivery major projects.
  • I met with Shirley and we had a very interesting discussion about DWP’s internal leadership training. Shirley is helping as a leadership mentor/coach for cohort 7 of this, and it sounds really valuable, although surprisingly none of the corporate places have been taken up. We ought to make sure that some of our Change colleagues get the opportunity in future cohorts.
  • The other major thing that I remember, largely because it was on Friday, is the transformation mapping meeting I had with a couple of strategy colleagues. They’ve gone round the department speaking to lots of people and have put together an outline of how we think we ought to initiate and deliver transformation. It’s a really good work so far, but I joined them up with colleagues in Change that are also looking at something similar.

Thanks to…

This week’s thanks go to.

  • Tom and Trevor for spending the week going line by line through all the workforce plans so that we could make sense of them. 

Outside Work

It was a rainy week, which put paid to gardening on my non-working day. It also stopped beavers from going to the cricket club for an introductory session. Instead they were roller skating in the hut. I didn’t stay for that though. I was helping my son with some of his English homework, he was asking for some help with text analyses. I had to go read up on it, but fortunately it was something I was good at when I was at school, and I did it again recently with the OU (well six years ago, but it was second year uni level, so the bits I’ve forgotten came back when I read the marking guidance!)

Cubs on Thursday was a bring a parent night. We played some team games, some with the parents, some cubs vs parents. There was even an opportunity for the adults to throw eggs at the cubs! Lots of fun all round. We topped it off by investing two new cubs (bringing us to 14 invested, with another new cub starting this week, and two more for next week). After we’d done that it was sausages all round off the barbecue and chats about camp.

Next Week

This week really, as I’m writing this on the train up to Leeds on Monday morning! I’m not going to be at my desk in London at all this week.

I’m in Leeds for Monday and Tuesday this week with the team. Wednesday is my usual day off.  Thursday is also out of the office, albeit in London. I’m off to see HMRC in Canada Water for an extended show and tell on the learning systems that they are using, and also that some other government departments use for project delivery training. There’s a possibility of a cross-government solution that we might all be able to access. On Friday I’ve got a writing day planned to complete my PLP assignments. It’s also a short day because I need to finish at four to go to cub camp for the weekend.

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