Reflecting on what a great start to the year it has been, and now the darkest bit of winter is over its time to lean in to new habits with renewed energy.

Connection conversations

Other than work I’ve had a rest week for connection conversations. Pacing myself seems to be working out in terms of keeping the inspiration from the conversations, but also having time to reflect and restore my energy in my introverted ways.

One key reflection is that proactively reconnecting and being open to new connections has made the start of my 2024 so vibrant, and feel so full of purpose. I’m really glad I made the effort to seek out these conversations and focus on relationships this year.

3 things this week

GOV.UK Forms

A great webinar this week from GDS sharing the GOV.UK Forms beta. Having signed up for a test account it looked every bit as good as the demo, and has real potential to bring efficiencies as well as consistently high standards.

The disappointing bit for me is that a roll out to local government is unlikely ‘in this calendar year’. I know the remit of GDS is central government and so they must prioritise getting a robust and scaleable product in place there first but knowing that doesn’t make me any less disappointed for us in local.

It feels like there should be an opportunity for Local Digital, LocalGov Digital, or some other group to help facilitate us locals being able to benefit from the products with the same open, high quality, simplicity.

It was this sort of frustration which led to the founding of LocalGov Digital back in 2012 so a familiar feeling to have reignited.

Online services for Council Tax

We’re at the start of some work to look at Council Tax as an online service. At the moment we’re looking at things which broadly fall into a change of circumstance category (as I define it, rather than the specific category of circumstances those in revs and bens might think about). Particularly we are looking at where this causes the user to contact us when they could (theoretically in most cases) self-serve.

We’re interested in the:

  • ‘what’ – the user journeys happening now and the pain points and opportunities in them
  • ‘why’ – the behaviours and motivators for those behaviours, the feelings of our users
  • detail – from word choice to interaction style are we supporting the what and why to get the best for our users and the service

We would love to connect with other councils who have done this work or who are looking at it too. If there’s something we can learn from you then please let us know! We’d rather build on established success and share back, than ‘reinvent the wheel’.

So please – show me the Council Tax work you’re really proud of!

The value of individual and shared knowledge

Once you know a thing it’s really hard to remember what it was like to not know the thing. This can mean those with individual knowledge (‘I know this’) don’t realise sharing that thing (‘it’s so obvious!’) can massively help others who are newer to a subject, task or project.

Externalising and sharing knowledge is one of the things I’m training myself to do more through open working, and allowing myself to feel vulnerable asking questions which I feel like I should know the answer to (or perhaps do know the answer but want it shared so everyone has heard it). It’s also one of the things which is important in a team or project.

Practical mentoring on how to do a certain task tends to be where a focus is, but sharing knowledge (including relevant context and history) is incredibly valuable too. For organisations it’s important to nurture this, because otherwise you’re at risk of your knowledge disappearing when an individual leaves.

I’m fortunate to now be in a culture of working out loud, of having open conversations rather than private chats, and to work with individuals who recognise themselves as holding a lot of knowledge and being proactive in trying to disseminate it to be held more widely.

I’d love to hear from others who are trying to externalise and share across a team or organisation as much knowledge as possible. Do you have plays for this? How do you uncover individual knowledge without someone self-identifying they hold it? How do you celebrate openness and sharing?

Shall we connect?

I’m looking for conversations and opening my calendar for opportunities to connect across 2024.

My February is fairly packed with personal commitments alongside work so I’ve not got slots in Calendly open at the moment. Do drop me a message if you’d like to chat though and we can find something that works I’m sure!

If you’re a vendor please check out the latest news on my employer before grabbing a slot – these conversations are not an opportunity to try and sell to me. And if you do work at the same organisation as I do reach out on Teams so we can say hello!

You can also get in touch through the ways on my get in touch page so let’s see what we can arrange.