On Tuesday, the new management team at the Croydon Digital Service (CDS) had an away day at the offices of the Government Digital Service, where our Chief Digital Officer, Neil, used to work before joining the Council.
We had a packed schedule, with various exercises and presentations of our own devising interspersed with tours and talks from GDS experts – all of whom very generously donated their time to our learning and development.
The first part of the day, which you can see in the photo above, saw everyone take part in a retro – a look back at the last few months that saw an awful lot of change in the team. We noted the things that were going well, the things that weren’t so positive, and the things that were somewhere in the middle – a bit ‘meh’. Having grouped all the contributions into themes, we then voted on which we should prioritise for action back in the office.
After this, we went on a tour round the GDS offices, taking in the user research lab, the empathy lab and all the wonderful workspaces, with plans, diagrams, and user research covering every available wall.
We then heard from some experts – Amy Fox presented to us about agile; Martin Lugton on product management and multi-disciplinary teams; and finally Simon Everest and Steve McCready told us all about the service standard and assessment process, and spend controls and the technology code of practice.
All of these are things we want to implement in Croydon, with adjustments where necessary for our context. The generosity of all those who spoke to us in sharing their knowledge and taking the time to answer our questions was just fantastic, and everyone also exhibited a fair bit of curiosity about life in local government.
We finished the day discussing the future of the CDS as a group. We’re all bought into the mission to introduce user-centred, end-to-end digital services to Croydon, and excited about having the opportunity to try out new ways of working to make it happen.
When we were back in the office, everyone shared three things they were taking away from the day. Here’s a selection:
- “We have the potential and ability to be a team that can work together to really effect change and get things done”
- “Working in product-based, multi-disciplinary teams brings a lot of benefits, but will take time to tune and get right.”
- “We need more whiteboards and post-its! This is how we can plan things and track things ‘out loud’”
- “Agile is not the panacea for all ills, however moving to an agile model and a product based team work style can provide many benefits when implemented where it can be effective.”
- “Governance is needed but can be encouraged through behaviors and supported by trust”
All positive stuff, which definitely leaves the impression that the awayday was a great use of everyone’s time. Our thanks again go to the kind folk at GDS who made us feel so welcome.
Dave Briggs is Head of Digital Operations at Croydon Council. You can follow him on Twitter @davebriggs.