MOKRs weeknote – 4

This week was surprisingly productive. We made progress, possibly despite my efforts. 

The plan had been to get different groups of people together, clustered around each mission, and invite them to start drafting the key results against each of the draft objectives. I spent a decent amount of time at the weekend drafting the workshop materials which was slightly too late to be useful for anyone. 

The first workshop wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t able to fulfil the purpose of the session. I feel particularly embarrassed when I’ve taken groups of the team and not set them up to succeed. So I talked it through with a few of the participants and thought about what we could do differently.

The key challenge we’re confronting is what level of specificity we need from our objectives. Should it be obvious which project or work stream will achieve the goal, or should they draw together the purpose of multiple projects? In organisations that routinely use OKRs, they’re like a set of Russian dolls. For good reason, we’re attempting a single set of OKRS for our whole service.

To work out the right answer, I turned back to the missions. Would the objectives, if met, get us one year closer to accomplishing the missions? This question helped me understand how to frame the objectives. I then wrote a note recapping where we are, how we want to do the work and where we need to get to. 

The challenge is to write the objectives so that they remain specific. Working with Cate, I developed three tests:

  1. Are they words that might appear in a ministerial speech (ie non-specifically and too general)?
  2. Can you imagine a conversation with Rob about whether one of the objectives is more or less important?
  3. Will you know when it’s done?

Liz led a workshop to redraft objectives related to the mission ‘Services people prefer’ and that was more successful, so we’ll repeat this approach over the coming weeks. I suspect this bit will need to be a bit more top down than I’d anticipated. So to make sure that we’re tapping into the knowledge of the whole team, I’d like to try and visualise our draft objectives, and the pieces of work that relate to each of them. If we put these up in the office, we’ll have a chance to get wider input. 

I developed a view of the objectives for our group director of neighbourhoods and housing, with a view to it becoming a consistent way of describing our pipeline of work to senior leaders, so that we’ve a shared view of what’s important. I’d like to ensure that we’ve got a single way of describing our objectives, no matter who we’re taking to. But whether we can create an approach that’s simple and easy to understand for different audiences remains to be seen.

So, all things being equal, by the end of February we should have a clear set of objectives, shared with senior leaders. 

Finding support services near me: weeknote 06/02/20

(formerly ‘Directory of Services’)

Posted on behalf of Lucy Clifton

Welcome to the latest ‘Finding support services near you’ week(ish)notes!

Things we’ve done since our last update on 24/01:

Loaded all the Well Street organisations into the MiDoS database in preparation for user testing.

We’ve been solidifying the process, working with HCVS (Hackney Community and Voluntary Service) on the detail.

Designing a sustainable solution:
– Started to scope the digital upskilling piece to help organisations – how might organisations make better use of websites and social media, e.g. to promote their services?
– Drafted a business plan outlining post-launch support and maintenance requirements as well as any associated running costs going forward.

It’s worth acknowledging the various and ongoing discussions that take place, sometimes as part of ,and sometimes in parallel to, the more standard ‘tasks’ or ‘activities’. Insight gleaned from continual engagement is really valuable and helps build the shared understanding of how this work fits in with other projects and initiatives (both planned and in train) across the system. So, thank you!

Things we’re going to do next:

– Get access to the out-the-box MiDoS front-end (ie before we design/build our own).
– Start to configure the basic functionality ready for user testing eg search/browse

Clarify the MiDoS account management process.

User testing:
User testing of the front-end with residents; and back-end with organisations to understand how easy they are to use.

Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support!

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknote, w/c 3.2.20


Last week Sam kicked off our usability research and started out by piloting the research with an internal booker on our Select a room and Room Details pages. Results from the test run prompted some minor changes to current scenarios and some content. On completion of those changes Sam carried out the research again but this time with four external participants. To make the most of the session Sam set up Google Hangouts to allow some of the Spacebank team to observe the research from another room and take notes, this was also opened up to the wider ICT staff who were welcome to observe and take notes also. On Monday we went through the top things that came out of the decisions and thought about what further changes we might be able to make. 

ALSO, due to the level of work and effort Sam put into the user research prep and the session itself, he was voted star of the sprint by the team. Well done Sam! 


This week, to keep adding value to users each sprint, we managed to put our Community Halls landing page and enquiry form live, which you can take a look at here: This left us with only one story incomplete at the end of our sprint. Go team Spacebank! 


We have another round of user research booked in for next Friday where we will be testing the changes we have made. We will also be seeing how our new libraries booking form page, booking reservation page and booking reservation email meets the needs of users. This time around we will also be inviting our library stakeholders to come and observe the process and feedback.

Onwards and upwards for Spacebank! 

NOTE: We will be holding our next show and tell on Tuesday with a strong focus on user research so please come along if you have the time and want to find out more. (Tuesday 11th February at 11:00 am (HSC Fourth Floor).

Implementing a Council Wide Casework Management System – 7th February 2020 Weeknote

It’s the second month of a new year and the iCasework team can’t believe where the time has gone.

The past week has been about preparing for our user acceptance testing (UAT) if our iCasework system. It’s been a mammoth effort but 6 of our 8 most frequent service user groups have now had their preparation session and are feeling much more confident about what UAT is and what a good UAT looks like. We also had some pretty amazing LEGO creations along the way; This beach scene was particularly restful in a busy week

a LEGO beach scene

In the background, the team has been really busy providing information over to Civica in preparation for our UAT training and system set up. We’ve sent loads of templates, drop down selection options and clarifications of who will be managing cases when. We also provided our list of wards and, thanks to the wonderful GIS team at Hackney, we even managed to get the E-codes*

We also had our first integration call to start the ball rolling on getting iCasework to talk to our single sign on provider, calendar service, document storage and mySociety’s wonderful FOI form. Thanks to all those who made the time and came along to that. Here’s hoping it’s all as simple as we think it should be!

Next week we have our UAT training from Civica so that our testers will, hopefully, know iCasework inside out. We are also working on providing our user list, what teams they belong to and what role they will have in the system. Finally, we’re working on defining our classifications (which is how we define what a case is about) as they are all key parts of our testing.

*E-codes provide the geographic reference for a ward and was a thing we learned about this week

Housing data in the cloud: Weeknote, w/c 03/02/2020

We finished our sprint on Wednesday. We have benefited significantly from working closely with colleagues from applications and infrastructure. Our main focus has been running some manual tests to see how our existing system reacted when presented with new data. We were particularly interested in: time stamps, key clusters, locking, conflicts and triggers. 

We also attempted our first data migration. We managed to move the database tables, but not the data objects. Unfortunately, the migration caused a problem in our existing system and our applications team had to reload some tables. A shout out to James and Nic who implemented the fix. We need to understand what went wrong so we can prevent it happening again.

It’s probably been our best sprint to date. Pace and energy was good, we were learning and iterating as we went along, and there was a strong understanding among the team about what we were trying to achieve. Our retrospective was characterised by honest reflection and a desire to keep on improving how we design sprints and work together. Every sprint is a test of the team’s resilience and creativity – the nature of this project is about untangling problems and encountering unknowns. 

I missed Chris, our product owner, this week. He is taking some well-earned holiday. He is unflappable and really good at explaining hard things in an accessible way. 

Our collaboration with AWS professional services starts next week! Our focus in the last couple of days has been on pulling together the information we need to support our work with AWS. This has included:

  • Tidying up our filing (definitely my weak point)
  • Sharing key documentation with AWS (a good test of relevance and understanding)
  • Summarising our needs for the sync process (based on our manual testing)
  • Putting the finishing touches on security and permission in our AWS cloud environment
  • Re-running the migration tool

We’ll be tackling our biggest unknown first – can we sync back data from the cloud into our existing system. We need to do this in a way that doesn’t disrupt availability and performance. I hope we will learn fast enough to provide an update next week!

It was great to meet colleagues from Camden Council on Thursday and to talk about this project in more detail. They are as keen to know the outcomes as we are. We know that other councils are experiencing similar challenges with legacy systems. It was a timely reminder that working in the open is vital to unlocking shared problems and accelerating change.