A session of positive thinking and planning, from a group exercise and a one-to-one co-coaching session, aimed at drawing up an action plan for achieving some of my professional aims. This was part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme held in London on 28 January 2020.
What I learned:
In the exercise, imagined ourselves looking back to now from a vantage point of success, two years in the future.
Wish – what I hope for in the future Outcome – the benefits I will see if I achieve this Obstacles – the obstacles in me I need to overcome to succeed Plan – what I will do to overcome these obstacles.
For me, these were:
Wish: * Leading a team ideally at SCS * Working in the technology, innovation or digital field * Doing something with impact, profile and influence.
Outcome: * Feel happier, making a stronger contribution, using my skills, having a positive impact * Achieving my social motivation of impact and influence
Obstacles: * Lack of the right role * Lack of the right networks and contacts * Lack of career examples / behaviours
Plan: * See below.
What I will aim to differently as a result
Generate examples tactically from the SCS behaviours, then do things that model those behaviours. The material is all publicly available!
Gain experience on how to join together a multidisciplinary team, and providing the enabling framework for teams to deliver
Be able to give examples where you mobilised people to work collaboratively
Learn to feel achievement from enabling others to do stuff (not doing it myself)
Understand the wider issues around AI e.g. cognitive biases; How do we engage people e.g. visualisation
Understand the benefits of the different factories, platforms etc.
Engage with the AI community; get on the GDS data science group; Go to events that help me move towards that skill set
Finally – Refresh my development plan to incorporate this.
A one-day session on what it means to “lead self” in the context of a changing civil service, through being present and leading with emotional intelligence. Part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme. Held in London on 28 January 2020.
What I learned
The Emotional intelligence Framework – drawn from (Goldman, D. “Working with emotional intelligence”) – gives ways in which people can be emotionally intelligent and suggests areas to develop.
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.