Transparency – an experiment

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:

  • Greater accountability
  • 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.

The experiment

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!

My learning and development plan

What it was:

An activity to develop and share my personal learning and development plan.

What I learned:

I wanted to use this as an exercise in planning and discipline, so I adopted the “Goals > Objectives > Tasks” approach to make a logical, structured list

I used these sources:

https://governancemanagement.webauthor.com/develop-goals-objectives-and-tasks

http://thoughtfullearning.com/inquireHSbook/pg356

Finally I used a text editor to write it and then Coggle to visualise it. There a few errors in the conversion, some of which I have fixed by hand, but the end result is close enough!

Here is the result, with the link to the full plan and a plain-text version pasted in for reference:



https://embed.coggle.it/diagram/XdcXwqoAFpimVvxq/299f6ee11baccf54550a570544e375daec72eb31de8cb7adcc386eba65fa6f9b

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.

Leading with Self: The personal leadership statement

What it was:

A talk, group and individual exercise led by Dionne Corradine. This was part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme held in London on 16 and 17 September 2019.


What I learned:

A personal leadership statement can help crystallise your leadership style, your aspirations, and what you offer to the people you work with. It can also be used as part of your objectives and to measure your progress.

A personal leadership statement takes time to develop and should be considered a work in progress – it can be a blend of where you are and where you want to be.  It should answer the question “Why should anyone be led by me?”

We conducted a brief exercise to generate a first-draft personal leadership statement.  Here is my draft:

PERSONAL LEADERSHIP STATEMENT – Ten-minute draft

What do I stand for?

  • The power of science, technology and information to do public good
  • The Integrity, impartiality and objectivity of the Civil Service
  • Experimentation and taking decisions based on evidence
  • The importance of collaboration 
  • Development and growth for all

Why follow me? Because I am:

  • Inspiring:
    • Try to see where the future is going and get there early
    • Always work collaboratively, cohering teams into action
    • Work to set a compelling vision and concepts 
    • Work to engage people and stakeholders in that vision
  • Confident:
    • Enjoy communicating, engaging and influencing
    • See and do things differently
    • Practice open leadership, working out loud and being open to feedback 
    • Volunteer and step in when things are going wrong
    • Try to influence thinking outside my area
    • Aim to be aware of myself, my impact and be reflective
  • Empowering:
    • Create a team that’s fun, supportive, loyal to each other
    • Keep myself and my team at the leading edge, by driving change and developing forward-leaning skills
    • Try to help my team achieve their development dreams
    • Encourage and reward reasonable challenge, listen to evidence
    • Enable teams to do new things in new ways

Things I’m trying to be better at:

  • Servant leadership
  • Planning and managing the pipeline of work
  • Staying always a leader, not a manager or operator 
  • Maintain technical skills and being an intelligent customer 
  • Coaching and mentoring my team leaders
  • Maintaining and growing my and my team’s networks

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Develop the statement above and then try to live it!
  • Bake my leadership statement into my personal objectives
  • Build in review / reminder points
  • Consider ways to test my performance against the statement
  • Get hold of the speaker’s slides for this session as they contained lots of useful thinking.

Meta: developing this blog

A quick post on developing the blog:

  • I’m slowly adding my notes from earlier learning opportunities – mainly these are notes from formal talks and lectures.
  • Turns out I have been capturing these notes on and off since 2010 so might take me a while to get up to speed
  • I’m trying to date the entries as per when the learning happened… so in some cases the entry date and publication date will be adrift by many years!
  • Soon I hope to start adding in more general learning points, for example personal reflections or post-activity retrospectives
  • I might also adopt a looser approach to capturing learning as I go  *tips hat to Weeknotes*
  • As you can see I’ve stripped out any bells and whistles and gone for simplicity, readability and focus on written content.
  • And – if you’re interested, I use a full WP install on some personal hosting provided by TSOhost.  Currently a vanilla install of the “First” theme by Themehaus but I’ll probably start tinkering with the code of that at some point.

Sharing my learning

I’m planning to start sharing my learning in this site – so that over time it builds into a record of learning that I can refer back to. I’ll also try to tag and label it so that it can potentially be useful to other people!

I’ve been capturing my learning for a while, and have found it useful to use the following simple format:

* What it was (description of the learning)
* What I learned (the key point I took away)
* What I will aim to do differently as a result (if possible)

There’s quite a backlog of stuff to publish so it will take me time to get through it.

Some things worth noting:
* I appreciate that some courses (etc) can contain copyright information (and it isn’t always obvious what is / is not protected at the time) so if you think I’ve inadvertently reproduced something without sufficient permission or attribution, please contact me and I’ll happily take it down.
* The lessons I capture from talks (etc.) are absolutely not intended to be direct quotes from the individuals giving the talks – instead they are a summary of what I learned.
* The publication date of an entry won’t necessarily match to the date that the learning occurred.