Warning this is a reasonably long blog post…
Last friday marked the last day of my six month contract with the folks at Public-i.
It has been a great experience and one which has provided me with many learning opportunities and chances to challenge myself and be challenged – I actually feel like I’ve grown in so many different ways, especially in confidence…I don’t think I realised how much my confidence had been affected by the restructure process that had pretty much been my life for the previous 2 years before moving into the Digital Communications arena in the council and then having this opportunity with Public-i.
As I look back over the 6 months and reflect on what I’ve learnt, what I’ve achieved and where I go next. I can’t help but look at what I wrote after the first month.
It was a really exciting learning curve and one which enabled me to learn a lot about myself, I wrote:
What I’ve learnt about myself
I need to give myself more time overall to reflect on things that are happening around me. In a work context I need to give myself time to think and make sure that what i am doing is right, fits with a vision and makes progress.
I need to be more organised, I’m trying to work out how I can manage my calendars for all the things I do without them all being loaded with the same information…It simply isn’t appropriate…I’m trying some things out, and only time will tell.
I should have more awareness of the skills and value I can bring to situations. I really need to complete the Business Model for myself to help me with this.
I really love what I’m doing but maybe I need to focus on one thing and do it really well instead of spreading myself so thinly…Sometimes I think I am actually being counter productive by only dedicating a proportion of my time.
I do actually trust those people around me to help fill the gaps, although I need to be more explicit with people in relation to the help I actually need. (I’m unaware that mind reading is a universal skill yet).
I actually set very high expectations of myself and I get frustrated when I’m not meeting them, this is an internal process but is something that I need to work through
I could work at a higher level than I am now if I simply believed in myself more.
I’m was never fond of train journeys but they do create time for thinking, especially if you have music or audio books to help you gather your thoughts.
Clarity of vision and pragmatic in delivery is a very useful tactic.
These are still very important lessons for me and some of them I’m still getting to grips with like being more organised, although I’ve learnt that having less time actually made me focus on only the really important things, which is good, but also meant that some of the things I should also be doing (although slightly less important) didn’t get done. So I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to getting that time back :).
One of the biggest things that I’ve learnt is that having a change of scenery if for a short time like 6 months is great to get new thinking, new ideas and also new energy for what you love doing.
With the recent discussions going on about Local GDS, greater collaboration, co-operation and knowledge sharing, I can’t help but think that actually spending time in a different plan / organisation even if for a short time and only in a part-time situation can only benefit individuals and councils.
I have been thinking about people I know in local councils who could and would (whether they wanted to or not is a different thing) benefit from this exact thing and the organisations they worked with – perhaps Public-i would offer this to others again or even FutureGov, Learning Pool, Kind of Digital, there are many organisations who in their own way are already doing this and would gain a huge amount purely by having those amazing people working with them on a common goal or challenge even for a short period or on a project.
You maybe reading this thinking I mean you, well I do mean you, YES YOU – It would allow you to spread your wings and be able to use that incredible thinking you have demonstrated and challenge things in new and different ways. Seriously I can’t recommend this type of opportunity enough.
I know my council has now got an even more motivated person than before, someone who is more confident, better able to challenge and consider views from more angles than before. In the current context, why wouldn’t councils encourage this short-term skills and talent development approach. Local Government as a whole can only benefit.
So moving away from the personal learning as that is something that is actually an added benefit of what I was employed to do - looking back on the first post this was the challenge:
First and foremost I’ll be working with the development team and the rest of the good folk at Public I on helping them improve the overall user experience and focus of the Citizenscape product.
I’ll be providing constructive disruption and challenge and hopefully help make it a solution which helps the democratic process evolve
Now my take on whether I achieved those will naturally be slightly one-sided, but I’m going to take a pragmatic view on what I think my impact was.
- I think one of the things I enabled was for Catherine who was previously pushing the product forward to take a step back and trust me to unpick and question the current purpose and vision for the product and to provide an alternative. I believe I did this, I was lucky enough to be involved in previous versions and to have had many conversations with Catherine about this idea from the start, so the overarching concept wasn’t in question, however the current purpose and opportunity was a bit lost.
- I also believe that I allowed people to be brutally honest with me about what they thought the current issues were without any issue that what they thought was even right or wrong…I’m not saying there wasn’t an open feedback policy at Public-i because there is – however someone new allows people to perhaps share their concerns which they never felt were important or were dismissed, so I think I allowed people to resurface some past concerns which were also very useful.
- Overall I think I achieved a new clarity and purpose with the product, I think that by the end of my six months nearly everyone understood what is was and how it needs to develop in the short-term. The longer term ambitions will naturally differ and will also be driven by market forces and opportunities.
To create a sense of balance to this review I asked Ady Coles, who was my line manager whilst working at Public-i to provide me with a short quote:
Carl has brought a tremendous amount to Public-i. He gave his expert, third-party view of our products and services, sometimes strengthening our thoughts and at other times, questioning them. In particular, his role as CitizenScape Product Manager has provided new ways to view the platform and – in his enthusiastic questioning and eagerness to learn – enabled us all to understand it better.Both Carl and Public-i have gained a lot from the last 6 months and I would have loved for Carl’s tenure with us to continue.