Last week’s findings focused on moving from a theoretical base for our work to putting it into action. I’ve reflected on the 5 main challenges and what I’ve learnt from them.
- Collecting data
- Working in a ‘rapid learning’ environment
- Working across the organisation
- Explaining the idea
- Managing our time
This week saw the launch of our Sensemaker data sharing tool. We sent our survey out to the teams here at Audit Wales to find out what they had been seeing about the way public services are changing their behaviour. We wanted to make sure that we don’t miss anything that might not seem relevant in itself but taken alongside other input may be significant. We addressed this upfront in the survey, telling participants:
“Please set aside any concerns about ‘is this relevant?’. All information is of value and may be exactly what someone else needs to know”
We ask them to describe exactly what changes they have observed.
We ask them to specify the focus is of what they’ve described. Is it on meeting the organisations aims, responding to society, or on an individual level? Could it be an economic change, an environmental one, or one aimed at changing the way people interact?
Participants are then asked to specify the impact of the changes our auditors have observed, and what can be learned from the changes said services have made
We also ask them to think about any failures connected with the change and what can be learned from them.
- When doing research or gathering data, account for different outcomes. Be thorough in your analysis and ask if there are any ways to approach the research which you haven’t yet explored. This will allow you to have a thorough and well-rounded view of the area your exploring, without massive levels of confirmation bias.
‘Rapid learning’ environments
‘Rapid learning’ environments are environments where learning is allowed to happen quickly, using a trial and error approach to decisions and making use of technology.
We hadn’t initially thought of the work we are doing in terms of rapid learning. However, the rate at which we’ve been developing this project, alongside our use of tools such as online conferencing places it firmly in that category!
We plan to ask which of the changes that we are seeing we want to keep. We can then organise a series of events or webinars to discuss these issues, sharing information back through channels such as blogs, podcasts and videos, drawing out key findings as we go.
- Facilitate ways in which learning can be achieved quickly and easily; this could be through an organisation hosting learning events, furthering their use of technology – including video conferencing, and making it easier for staff to network. Furthermore, by occasionally pausing to review your actions you can exercise discipline and teach yourself to constantly improve.
Working across the organisation
Rapid learning is reflected in our ways of working as a team too. From using Trello to keep track of and share the tasks we’ve been assigned, to changing our working patterns to emphasise communication and a robust editorial process, we’re learning and adapting. We feedback our findings for the week on Fridays, we’re meeting with our communications team to agree activities and we’re also engaging with audit managers to share the data we’re gathering.
Other ways we’re exploring rapid learning is through ideas such as informal catch up meetings and randomised coffee trials which you can read about in the last learning log.
- In sharing your ideas consider the questions that may be asked. Take into account the interests and thought processes of the individuals or organisations you are engaging with, allowing them to understand anything they’re presented with. This will enable and strengthen opportunities to collaborate.
Explaining our idea
This week we’ve been out and about talking to organisations who are interested in the work we are doing to see how we can work with them and their networks. Some expressed an interest in how we can share and analyse the data we are all gathering, making it transparent and open.
We also held meetings internally to make sure the intentions of the survey questions were understood. Taking the time to do this will mean that responses come from observing how things are – not becoming weighed down with critical judgements or indeed praise and providing an honest and unbiased account of anything that has been observed.
- Make sure to explain your ideas clearly and comprehensively. Networking and speaking to people from different organisations and backgrounds will make this process easier and will improve your communication skills.
Managing our time
One of my colleagues said this week ‘I find that mobility is the best way of hiding from the kids. Keep moving they won’t find you’
We’re all having to adjust our working patterns from home due to our personal circumstances and the fact that everything can feel different in the context of the coronavirus. Last week I attended a webinar on precisely this subject that highlighted the importance of flexibility and empathy. One important quote from the webinar is singled out below:
‘Those not already working from home may have been thrust into a world without structure and must adapt while managing anxieties. We now might all have something to learn about self-discipline, isolation and motivation. And the separation of work and the person has been eroded tremendously. It is not impossible that an important virtual meeting might be intruded upon by an over-enthusiastic toddler. Just weeks ago, that might have been a point of embarrassment.’
We now have even less of a distinction between work life and home life. In a world where we need to fit our home life around family life and continue to have those informal chats with colleagues using the available technology, ideas of being overly formal and detaching the two mindsets, are arguably less relevant than ever.
- Manage your time effectively. When working from home we are not exercising leisure time, yet we are not in the most formal of environments either. Realising both those things and organising our day effectively can make for a better sense of emotional wellbeing.