One Team Gov Hackney : Our first meet-up!

One Team Gov is a global community founded in 2017 who aspire to radically reform the public sector through practical action. There is a particular focus on breaking down silos within and between government organisations. It’s made up of mostly civil and public sector employees driven by optimism, the desire to make things better and united by a set of core principles. This fits in very well with the Hackney Council values of being open, ambitious, pioneering, inclusive, proactive and proud.

So far, the core group in the UK has run a number of unconferences, including one at the annual event where the top 200 civil servants meet, as well as contributing to reports such as NESTA’s Radical Visions of Government. It’s core themes this year are diversity and wellbeing, the climate emergency and public sector leadership.

Across the world it now has groups in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland and has run three 1,000+ people global meetups.

However – as well as going global it’s also time to start going local! Groups already exist in Wales, Leeds, Manchester, Scotland, Newcastle and most recently one was set up by our friends over at Croydon Council.

Inspired by Croydon and the other groups we decided it was time to set up a branch of One Team Gov here at Hackney. One first meeting was bright and early on the 15th of Jan and was attended by people from a number of areas in the Council including Housing Needs, ICT and Adult’s Social Care.

Fueled by coffee and croissants we had a brief intro to the One Team Gov concept and a round of introductions as many people attending had never met each other before – already a great start! Following that we had a lean coffee session where everyone was given an opportunity to introduce topics related to improving how the Council functions and then to vote on which ones they would like to spend the remainder of the time discussing.

The suggested topics included how to end projects well, creating a culture of empowerment, benefiting from data insights, enabling and empowering teams to be self improving and governance of cross-cutting projects. The two that the group chose to focus on were on how to share information about the work we’re doing to prevent duplicated effort and highlight conflicting objectives and how to provide consistent ways and means of communication.

The mini-session on work related information generated insights including the following.

  • The difference between “static” information about a project and and “the narrative” of what it’s achieving
  • The use of project start-up and close-down checklists
  • How difficult it is to know what other parts of the Council are doing and especially who is responsible for things
  • The danger of being overwhelmed by too much information
  • Whether it can be a good thing to have conflicting objectives in different teams
  • HackITs use of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

The mini-session on consistent ways of communication insights were as follows.

  • “No time” to communicate can often be an indication of other more complex issues preventing participation in a project
  • People often shut out communications they don’t see as related to their “day job”
  • Ways of communicating are very important – building a strong relationship often means having to initially talk to people face-to-face even if they are spread throughout the borough
  • It’s important to ask how people like to communicate
  • When looking to make people involved in a project – make sure you include discussions with the manager (about their time) and their team-mates (about the impact)
  • Having agreed combined objectives can make people feel more like part of the team and more willing to respond to communications – start small, build reciprocity!

After the two discussions came to an end we had a short retrospective which covered four areas. Things people liked included the opportunity to meet new people from different areas of the Council, the way the session was run and the croissants! People learned about lean coffee and that we all face common challenges. It was felt that the session could do with people from other teams and perhaps dedicate more time. Finally, the group longed for specific actions to take away – and a breakfast fry up!

All in all it was a great first session. We’re going to organise one every month – if you work at Hackney Council and would like to be involved please let us know.

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