I used a simple Google Form, via a shortcut on my phone’s home screen. The form allows immediate logging of the ‘start’ or ‘end’ of an activity, and the category of activity.
The form also allows me to note down an alternative time if I am logging after the event rather than at the time the acivity occured. I needed to do this a lot as I very often forgot to log at the time. In general when I logged after the fact I approximated to the nearest 5 mins.
Note that I have not logged any ‘travelling time’ (either routine commuting to work, or longer journeys to meetings at other offices). The only exceptions to this are where I have worked on the train, which I have logged as ‘Working from home or remote location’
Learning, insight and follow-up from this exercise:
With a simple form in place, it is not a significant effort for me to record this data.
It’s vital to log the work as it happens – logging the times after the fact and then correcting the data later is confusing and time-consuming!
I will perform some analysis on this data when I have got better at recording it – and have more of it.
Those of you that know me may have heard me talk about transparency, and how I feel this is important for good public service. I think that civil servants being more transparent about their work could have various potential benefits:
Better learning / sharing of best practice
Promotes understanding of what civil servants ‘actually do’
Ultimately, the public pay my salary so there’s a reasonable argument they should be able to see what they get for the money.
I’ve decided to conduct a personal experiment in transparency and accountability – effectively a form of personal radical transparency. The principal is that I will endeavour to publish as much information about my work as practicable.
The purposes of this experiment are:
To examine the value of greater transparency from civil servants – for example, does this give greater insight into what I do, or actively obfuscate that? Which things are useful and which aren’t?
To examine the practical considerations around being transparent – what tools / guidance / best practice / rules might help civil servants be more transparent?
To identify any other consequencs of transparency – for example, does it affect the way I work and/or the decisions I make, knowing that some of this will be published?
The (initial) ground rules of the experiment are:
I can’t give details of anything protectively marked / embargoed.
I can’t give details about my work that give away other people’s information (only my own information).
I can’t give way details that would otherwise compromise security – for example my personal security.
I do not have much time to dedicate to this so it will be on a ‘best endeavours’ basis.
Some of this likely won’t work, won’t be practical or won’t be sustainable – hence it is an experiment.
I’ll be adding more information (in this blog’s new “Transparency” category) over the coming weeks and months so stay tuned. Wish me luck!
This Christmas I encountered ‘Kurosu’ – a japanese grid-based logic puzzle in the same vein as Sudoku (albeit a lot simpler than Sudoku).
As a Christmas puzzle – and to top-up my coding skills development over the holiday – I set myself the challenge of writing some code to solve all such puzzles. It took a few hours over several days but I managed it in the end (probably wouldn’t be blogging about it if I hadn’t…)
My code uses simple logical induction to eliminate the puzzle grid’s non-solutions, row-by-row and column-by-column.
If you don’t want to run it youself you’ll have to take my word for it that it works!
What I learned
Part of the challenge was that I wasn’t allowed to look at anyone else’s solution to this until after mine was working.
I confess admiration for this (very different) solution, which takes a more combinatorial / number-crunching approach – generating the set of all possible valid solutions then simply testing which one is at a hand. Plus – his taut PERL scripting makes my Python look laughably clunky and byzantine!
But I’m trying not to feel completely inadequate – my approach roughly emulates the process a human would use to solve the grid and needs relatively few (4 or so) iterations to settle on a solution.
What I will aim to do differently as a result
Keep brushing up on my coding – still so much to learn
Reflect on different approaches to coding and problem solving – think about efficiency not just efficacy of code
Note: I went back and edited this post into my usual learning format after publishing it.
Personal Development Plan – As at 20 Nov 19 Become more disciplined and effective Develop discipline as a habit Develop a routine for removing distractions (eg Phone away etc) Have a weekly plan and stick to it Improve on following processes & procedures Up to date on Leave recording Performance management cycle Conduct work pattern recording Stay current and relevant in technical and professional skills Grow my techical skills and experience Complete Python ML Bootcamp course Take a touch typing course Maintain Professional PR and Digital skills Complete CIPR CPD for the year Compete a course on User Research basics Be an intelligent customer for AI and ML Complete real-world data science exercises that improve my life Complete Python for Data Science learning Execute and understand a sample ML exercise Seek out opportunities and challenges and find a new role Grow my Network Social Media / LinkedIn / Defence Connect Cross Govt MOD Leadership Find a new job Update CV and expose it for feedback Set up jobs monitoring Complete Private sector applications – at least 50 Complete Public Sector applications – as many as possible Explore new opportunities Seek out a project delivery role at work Take on a corporate challenge / wider activity Become a senior leader, ready for SCS Gather and act upon feedback Gather feedback in one place FLS feedback Interview feedback Psychometric feedback Address weaknesses and shadows Identify shadows and make a plan to address them Develop Emotional Intelligence via training Develop Commercial Acumen through practice Develop SCS competences Develop new competence examples for SCS Review SCS behaviours and map to ‘how’ of my personal objective Develop leadership Practice Open Leadership Identify an SCS buddy / mentor Read: “why should anyone be led by you” Develop personal leadership statement and reflect in my objectives Keep learning and developing in a concerted way Deliver this Learning and Development plan Generate L&D plan Review the plan at fixed intervals (monthly) Maintain a log of completed activities Set up self-coaching and reflection on earlier learning Capture all learning and actions in a coherent system Complete the backlog of write-ups Collect notes from FLS coaching sessions Set up a system for reviewing / reminding
What I will aim to do differently as a result:
The plan lists all the things I want to do as part of my learning. There’s a lot there so the challenge will be to stick to it and be realistic about how much of this is doable inside one year.
I’ll likely create a Trello board to track my learning actions – but that is for later.
A meeting to reflect on our collective learning with a cohort of people who had completed the Civil Service Future Leaders Scheme in 2017/18/19, chaired by Director-General at MOD and held in February 2019.
In this blog post I have pasted the content of the end-of-scheme learning template that I completed in preparation for the meeting.
What I learned
What was your key learning from the Scheme?
Better grounding in commercial considerations
Importance of self-organising, planning and review for my learning
Preparation and considering my approach before meetings and engagements
The value of coaching with my team leaders and as a general approach to conversations
The need to ‘bring the outside in’ and harness external perspectives whenever the organisation needs to learn, grow, change or do new things
Importance of planning and directing senior conversations
Understanding my leadership style, and ensuring that I embody this
What has been your most important learning about yourself during your time on the scheme?
I have a distinctive leadership style with helpful and unhelpful elements
There is a place for my leadership style in the SCS (previously I had though there was not)
I am able to adapt my leadership style to suit
I need (and am broadly able) to create structure, context and continuity for myself as well as for the team
I need support on project management / team co-ordination tasks
My learning and development needs to be planned and managed
Reflection is a powerful tool that I am able to use
What has been your greatest challenge over the past 2 years and how have you addressed this?
Aside from on-the-job challenges, the greatest challenge has been finding time/energy to dedicate to learning and development. I have addressed this by:
Booking time in diary for learning, booking onto courses and insisting upon attending these even under sever diary pressures;
Making my learning public, making a public commitment to act upon learning and therefore more likely to follow through
Using some hours every week ‘dead time’ to focus on technical skills development. I have used the time to complete an online Python course (coding skills for data / analytics).
What were your departmental and corporate contributions during your time on the scheme?
Arranged and hosted 2 x Action Learning Sets at MOD
As part of the Experiment Group work, I developed, executed and analysed a randomised digital survey (analogous to a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT)) of the FLS cohort (80 responses) – which showed that allowing flexible working makes a very significant difference to the number of candidates who will apply for an SCS post.
Contributed to early phases of corporate challenge (was not able to participate in later stages)
Set up the ‘lift lobby group’ of people involved in defence change programmes.
Began publicly sharing (blogging) my learning
Overall comments on your experience of the scheme and what your next steps will be?
I feel I have developed tremendously while on the FLS.
Some of this development is likely due to my being on temporary promotion to SCS this year – however I feel I have developed much more during this stint on promotion than during my previous stint, with FLS being the key difference.
I posit that the FLS has given me a framework and discipline to reflect upon and contextualise, and so truly learn from, my experiences – rather than simply experiencing them!
What I will aim to do differently as a result
Looking to the future:
I want to continue learning about leadership and management
I will continue to develop my technical skills and pursue becoming an intelligent customer for Machine Learning and AI.
I will continue to seek out and apply for SCS1 opportunities
I will aim to seek out a delivery role, and leadership roles.
I will consider opportunities outside central Govt Departments
I wish to stay in the digital/data/information field but would consider opportunities elsewhere that gave me the leadership and delivery opportunities I need.