Virtual Council meetings: Weeknote, w/c 06.04.2020

What we have achieved this week:

Achievement #1

We reviewed technical options against the user needs we have collated. Google Meet has sufficient functionality for the vast majority of council meetings. Crucially, it is a secure system and ensures that our data is safe. We’ll be looking carefully at how Google Meet performs in the meetings we have over the next two weeks and review. If we need to make a different decision based on emerging user needs we will. We’re taking these decisions collaboratively with colleagues in relevant teams. 

Achievement #2

We successfully completed a tech check and briefing with Members of the licensing sub committee. We didn’t quite manage a role play so they could get a sense of what the real thing might feel like, but we were able to talk through the new protocols and practise most of these together. 

Achievement #3

We finalised the changes to the Constitution thanks to our colleagues in Legal. Our protocols are done and ready to go. These won’t be perfect and we’ll need to iterate when we’ve experienced how they work in real-life virtual meetings.* 

Governance colleagues are doing a great job finding the delicate balance between detail and uncertainty. The structure of Council meetings haven’t changed significantly in over four decades. Not only are they dealing with a radical transformation in a highly condensed time frame, but supporting Members to do the same. 

Achievement #4

We squeezed a review and retro in on Thursday afternoon. It was good to have an hour to reflect on the last couple of weeks. We even managed a quick brainstorm on what we need to focus on next. 

What is coming up:

We are having our very first virtual meeting on Tuesday. It will be a licensing sub committee. Even though we’ve been practising with the tech and briefing members on new meeting norms, it is the first real test of dovetailing the tech and the new meeting protocols. 

Following on from licensing, we’ve got audit and planning meetings in the pipeline. In the coming week, we need to start prepping Members ahead of these meetings. This includes a session to check the tech and run through the basic features in Google Meet, and a test meeting to help the Chair and members adopt new meeting norms. 

We also want to test live streaming. We’ve not done this as a Council before – at least not on a regular basis. Our aim is to have something in place in time for the planning sub committee in mid April. There’s a lot to work through but the team has a great “can do” attitude and the good will from our colleagues in Governance and Legal is really helping us to drive things forward. 

A few thank yous:

  • It was great to participate in the Adur and Worthing Council test Council meeting this week. I learnt so much I was able to pass back to the team. This has helped us to iterate our meeting protocols and how we use our tech.
  • The offers of help from LGA, GDS and Newcastle Council on live streaming
  • Andrew Cochrane, our Design Apprentice, for visualising the user needs work
  • Cllrs Selman, Snell and Plouviez for their patience as we ironed out some technical bugs and working collaboratively with us to learn and improve
  • Richard Smith, HackIT’s Lead User Researcher for putting our user needs work on the Research Library and giving it a plug on Twitter

*Is the phase “real-life virtual meeting” an oxymoron?

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