Our May Leadership Academy advocate

LeadershipAdvocate-May-BlogTop Talent – Give it a go, pause the working day, and focus on yourself. You get as much out of it as you put in!

I got offered a place on a pilot of the Socitm Top Talent course, to help refine and develop the course. The opportunity took me by surprise when Nadira Hussain made the offer at the West Midlands Socitm regional meetings. Especially, as being 30, I feel relatively young for leadership, despite 15 years’ experience in the industry.

Today, I am Lead Architect at Coventry City Council, responsible for Technology and Innovation for the Internal IT Service and the City Public Realm. This includes everything from Office 365, modernising internal IT systems to getting Driverless Cars, 5G, IoT and Superfast Broadband into the city in the run up to City of Culture 2021 and beyond.

Anyway, on to the Top-Talent programme, I’ll be honest in that I didn’t really know what to expect and often these courses feel like sitting in a room always learning ‘theories’ and rehashing stuff you’ve heard before. As an example, having attended traditional training, they always offer a good foundation and opportunity to network but, they have often reassured me my approach to leadership is modern, rather than picking up new skills. The Top Talent programme was different.

There are two things about the Top-Talent programme that really made a difference for me. Firstly, was being part of a group with wide-ranging backgrounds. From project managers, techie’s, experienced leaders, new leaders and some who are completely new to the industry, it’s a diverse group. It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and connections. Over the programme the group builds a level of trust, becoming a safe space to share challenges you face at work (or personally) and work out solutions. You don’t get this much perspective, diversity of approaches and feeling of a safe space from ‘traditional training’ courses.

Secondly, one part of the programme focuses entirely on you, it’s probably the most tiring day but really starting to question what your beliefs and values are, what inspires you, what you enjoy about your life / job. It’s amazing how much self-confidence you get when you know what makes you tick and the one to one mentoring session is cathartic, being able to unload a load of thoughts to an impartial sounding board and have the space to ‘pause the working day, and focus on yourself’. Knowing what my beliefs and values makes building trust with colleagues more natural and makes it easier to have a shared vision. Work now feels like a group of people working together for a common goal rather than following or giving orders.

Socitim’s Top Talent course reassures me that the IT Industry is finally helping future leaders to develop personal skills based around collaboration, innovation and be person-centric rather than models, hierarchies and fixed ways of doing things. It was a pleasure to be involved with its development.

The programme never really felt like work, a drag, or training – it was light-hearted, fun and engaging throughout – We discovered that someone fears Owls, that they have tiny bodies underneath all the feathers and a rather odd discussion about ‘do fish have eye lids?’ Yes, sort of!

By Adam Simmonds

Lead Architect @ Coventry City Council

Our May Leadership Academy advocate

Six reasons to train public sector leaders

We understand our members. We know they’re constrained by multiple factors including austerity, the drive to deliver ever better services and the need to push against resistant organisational cultures where people are often reluctant to change the way they do things.

Innovative, passionate and dedicated to improving outcomes for service users, the senior IT professionals who make up our network put their all into the tireless transformation of local, regional and national public services. Many of them think they simply don’t have the time to train.

However, our Leadership Academy alumni are adamant that lifelong learning is vital. Here are six reasons they say public sector leaders not only gain from training but need it.

1 Increased productivity

The right, consistent leadership can increase the productivity of your people. Fundamentally, leadership is about understanding your people emotionally. Emotional intelligence is critical to the success of a leader and that means using empathy effectively to empower and engage employees. Leadership training that encompasses emotional intelligence can hone these emotional skills in your people managers and leaders.

2 Retain your people

75% of people voluntarily resigning from jobs don’t leave their roles, they leave their managers. Ineffective leaders are exceptionally hard to work for. By investing in leadership training, you can retain your people and cut down on the drawbacks of a lengthy recruitment process.

3 Nurture future leaders

Developing and nurturing future leaders is vital. All too often, leadership roles are given to the most forward candidates with dominant personalities rather than those with the greatest potential. Identifying those who have what it takes and providing them with targeted leadership training is a skill. One that can be honed by leadership training.

4 Increase employee engagement

Feedback and encouragement are a vital facet of leadership. Giving feedback is a skill of successful leaders. Through leadership training, you can teach effective ways to give feedback to motivate and increase the skill level of your team.

5 Communicate for culture train

There are several leadership styles, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. In the public sector, particularly, leaders need to be able to communicate effectively with people at all levels. Changing an organisation’s culture to one where digital transformation becomes an objective for everyone (from the top down) requires distinct skills. Leadership training can help you develop these.

6 Make better decisions

Leadership training can result in better decision-making. Leaders functioning at a high level of emotional intelligence have the perspective to make informed, intelligent business decisions. For that reason alone, you can consider your leadership training an investment returned.

Leadership academy

Our Senior Leader workshops last one day and offer an opportunity to discuss and explore the challenges faced by senior ICT leaders. Collaborative and hands-on, the Senior Leader workshop provides you with the practical tools required to communicate effectively at all levels, maximising influence and effecting positive and lasting organisational change.

With corporate members having one free place, the Socitm Senior Leader workshop is a worthy time-investment in elevating effective communication and wider digital engagement throughout the public sector. It also opens-up networking opportunities and allows you to collaborate and share excellence and best practice with your peers. Find out more.

Six reasons to train public sector leaders

Why won’t girls study Computer Science?

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Following our recent Share Cambridge event, incorporating our Women in IT meeting, we asked for our members’ feedback. Gathered by means of an anonymous survey, we were delighted that the responses included the following topical opinion piece. Socitm is all about conversation and we’d love to hear your views as to how we as a community can inspire more girls to build careers in technology and become digital leaders.

“In an increasingly digitalised world, we need more people to study computing than ever before. We also need an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce in order to bridge a looming digital skills gap. As we stand on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s imperative we attract and retain interest and engagement in computing early and we need to start in schools.

Alarmingly, however, research by the University of Roehampton and the Royal Society recently found that only 20% of candidates for GCSE Computer Science, and 10% for A level Computer Science, are girls.

While it’s encouraging to hear that the Department for Education has granted £2.4 million of funding to ‘Gender Balance in Computing’, a research project established to trial new initiatives designed to boost girls’ participation in computing, we need to ask some big questions. If we are going to remedy the situation, we need to understand the entrenched and complex reasons behind girls’ reluctance to study STEM subjects.

In 2018, despite the overall number of A level entries across all subjects falling, there was a 4% increase in girls taking STEM subjects on the previous year.  While – in real terms – this equates to 5,000 more girls taking STEM A levels than in 2017, actual numbers are considerably lower than for boys.  Consequently, 2018 research by PWC revealed only 15% of employees working in STEM roles in the UK are female. Distressingly, only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.

One of the most often aired explanations for this staggering gender imbalance is that girls simply aren’t interested in STEM subjects, particularly post 16. However, anyone who has ever spent time around young children and tablet devices, knows this is absurdly untrue. While a degree of disinterest is inevitable in either sex, research shows that where girls are given practical technological tasks to complete and enjoy as frequently as their male counterparts, their interest is piqued and retained at a corresponding level. Disengagement typically occurs when peers, parents and teaching staff, wittingly or otherwise, begin to suggest or promote segregation in the way girls and boys evaluate and solve technical problems. Where there is equality between the sexes in terms of practical digital experiences, girls show more than enough aptitude, understanding and enthusiasm.

The truth is that in Western society, girls are constantly subject to an influx of subliminal messaging pushing them towards so-called ‘soft subjects’. While boys are encouraged to get their hands dirty and be assertive, girls are told, emphatically, that their role is to mediate, negotiate and people please. Arguably, what the today’s emergence of technology does (as well as being an operational game changer) is to elevate those self-same ‘soft skills’ from a position of perceived inferiority to the vanguard of a sector revolution. In placing collaboration and communication at the fore, digital transformation is dependent on professionals who have a broad understanding of its value as a philosophy rather than viewing it merely as ‘tech’. With this in mind, after years of being dissuaded from technology roles, girls are now ideally placed to lead the industry as it transitions and blossoms?

Unfortunately, with so few women visible in the sector, the challenge of bridging the technology gender divide all too often falls almost exclusively to teachers and the lack of practical opportunities available in a classroom setting all too often fail to inspire. Furthermore, non-specialist educationalists – outside of further and higher education – are unlikely to have the digital skills to teach computer science at the required level.

Without Digital Leaders stepping in to make-up the classroom shortfall, it seems unlikely that the UK’s digital skills shortage will be fully addressed and that’s a huge blow to everyone. Perhaps what is required is a targeted and meaningful campaign whereby we – as public sector professionals – step in and offer girls (and boys) the chance to understand the potential and importance of careers in technology. If not, the future of the industry is set to suffer worldwide as the skills shortage spreads and grows.”

Share your views on Twitter @socitm or by email: hello@socitm.net

Why won’t girls study Computer Science?

Our April Leadership Academy advocate

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Empowered Women, Empower Women.

That’s the only way I can describe the journey which led me to Socitm’s Empowering Women in a Digital World (EWDW).

Nadira Hussain, Socitm’s Director of Leadership Development & Research, leader in the creation of EWDW, inspired and empowered me to take full advantage of the EWDW programme.

The programme promised to inspire motivate and empower. Helping to find confidence in stepping out of my comfort zone to develop both personally and professionally.
The EWDW programme did not fail to deliver upon its promises!

I have built confidence in accelerating my career choices, recognised the importance of creating strong networks, strengthened my leadership skills whilst empowering others, challenging myself to do something today my future self will be proud of.

AND OF COURSE, ……TAMING THE CROW!
What a revelation this was – I had to have been my worst critic.

Thinking about it now, my inner voice wasn’t very nice at all, clouding my capacity to take an accurate measurement of what I am capable of.

The EWDW programme, complimented by 1:1 tuition from my Co-Active coach, gave me the tools and skills I needed to recognise my negative inner voice (crow) and silence it.

Reflecting on the last year since the EWDW programme, I have achieved lots to be proud of.

  • Stepping out of autopilot and being very present in the moment
  • Leadership success
  • Staff Excellence Awards nomination
  • Empowering others to excel
  • Round Table Event speaker and organisation support.
  • #IamRemarkable facilitator
  • Organiser and speaker at LBE’s International Women’s day conference

Being a speaker at the IDW conference, alongside very inspirational leaders, reminded me, that we are never fully in control of self-doubt, and the inner voice/crow cannot be put back in its cage for ever – there will always be those fight or flight moments.

However, with huge thanks to the EWDW Programme, I have the toolkit to take lead of challenging situations, making change last forever.

By Toni Green
End user computing manager

Our April Leadership Academy advocate

Healthy discussion: Join the conversation

Healthy discussion - Join the conversation

Share Cambridge 2019 takes place today, Thursday 25th April. The event’s key focus is the wellbeing and health of residents and places and, together with our policy partner DELL EMC, we are developing and sharing cutting-edge ideas on how we can all help to build better communities.

Together, we’ll be taking a fresh look at how the determinants of people’s wellbeing can enable housing authorities, leisure providers, environmental management, education, police, public health, care organisations and health providers (he public sector in the widest sense) to refocus its efforts on addressing the often entrenched and endemic problems in our society.

Over the next six months, Socitm will be furthering this important discussion by publishing a series of guides explaining how digital technologies and better use of data can help deliver a health and wellbeing transformation through collaboration with people in their diverse settings.

Committed to conversation and collaboration, we want to hear your views. We’d love your feedback on the topics we plan to cover. Are there other areas you’d like us to address? What are your thoughts on the points outlined below?

  1. Introduction – the compelling Case for Change
    • National Backdrop – NHS deficits and cumulative budget reductions in LG, ageing demographics, smart cities, workforce challenges, changes in expectations within society, reduction in service variation, place-based and people-centred priorities, left-shift, wider determinants of wellbeing, innovation initiatives, looking after yourself, focusing finite resources on the most vulnerable including those with long terms conditions.
    • How can local authorities respond?
    • Role of the CIO/CDO, digital leaders and place-based convenors.
    • CIO’s should largely think about how technology/digital can impact prevention in their local populations, then think about how the resulting new services can be enabled and made more efficient by technology
    • Aligning multi-agency priorities, resources, action plans, etc
    • Uplifting skills – building capacity and capability nationally and locally
    • New Data Insights
    • Place based knowledge sharing
    • Care technology solutions – trends, types and themes
    • Commissioning landscape – intentions, models, examples and themes
    • Five key priority actions
    • Five key areas to avoid
  1. New Models of Care
    • Person-centred service design concepts
    • New ways of commissioning services – outcome-based and value-based
    • The role of technology and digital in delivering the new care models
    • Examples of emerging new models of care
  1. New Data Insights
    • Drive towards data-driven decision making
    • Acknowledging the wider determinants of health populations
    • New data set sources and the impact of combining them
    • Internet of Things and harnessing the vast data they generate
    • Advances in Health & SC population analytics
    • Latest thinking on ethical use of data
    • Examples of successful new interventions enabled by new data insights
  1. How to deliver HealthTech innovation in your location?
    • Human-centred design and Co-production
    • Standards – helping to consolidate the no of apps
    • Platforms – integration and interoperability
    • Culture – new care delivery models including Digital Ways of Working (DWoW)
    • Examples in practice
  1. How to approach Integrated Digital Care Records (IDCR) development
    • Key Q&A
    • Step-by-step guide
    • Local Care Record integration
    • Key dos and don’ts
    • District Councils contribution and support
  1. Place-based approach wellbeing – the Scottish experience
  • National context – NHS Scotland – 14 Boards, including NHS National Services Scotland – data collection for performance metrics – volume and diversity of data sets
    • Putting data at the heart of place-based policy, decision-making and practice
  • Opening up data – the emergence and practice of probability matching
  • Federated approach – from data warehouse model to data lake
  • 2014 legislation – beyond health to wellbeing … development of PaaS approach – enabling organisations to develop their own data analytics skills – opening up opportunities to address local problems
  • Two case studies:
  1. Midlothian –impact of educational attainment on healthcare needs
  2. Edinburgh – impact of social isolation on health and wellbeing
  • Future – NHS-Scotland working with SEMIS (Education) – impact of educational attainment levels on life chances
  • Infographic – A framework for outcomes-based harnessing of data
  • Conclusions – sense of purpose – people (awareness, skills …) – processes – data sourcing and management – technologies and tools – investment.

Please add your voice to this important conversation. Get in touch via Twitter using #sharecambridge and WomeninTech. Discussion is healthy and our wellbeing depends upon digital leaders like you sharing excellence and ideas.

martin.ferguson@socitm.net

russ.charlesworth@socitm.net

Healthy discussion: Join the conversation

Transforming health and wellbeing. Digitally.

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Digital transformation isn’t just about achieving greater efficiencies. It’s also about creating an environment that’s happier and healthier with better outcomes for everyone.

This is the focus of Share Cambridge on 25th April 2019.

For local authorities, central government and the healthcare sector, the biggest challenge facing us is how to achieve these better outcomes for people and communities through transformed public services – harnessing emerging technologies and data in ways that are ethical and avoid exposing people and their data to cyber security risks.

It’s well-documented that online communication can have an enormous impact on people’s wellfare. Managed properly, it can alleviate loneliness, reduce isolation and unite communities. When it comes to people’s health and wellbeing, digital transformation offers powerful opportunities. It enables intervention to take place early at a local, community level. It also allows people to be proactively involved with their own care, encouraging engagement and collaborative response and treatment freeing up resources at the expensive acute end of the system. Digitalisation and effective and secure information sharing can help people to live independently avoiding entry into the care systems. It also means people are better informed about conditions, helping to prevent illness and enabling faster discharge from hospital care.

But the opportunities are far greater than just transforming the care setting. Taking a fresh look at the determinants of people’s wellbeing can enable the public sector in the widest sense – housing authorities, leisure providers, environment, education, police, public health, alongside care organisations and health providers – to refocus their efforts on addressing the often entrenched and endemic problems in our communities. In short, digital technologies and better use of data can help to transform outcomes in collaboration with people in their diverse settings.

However, as with everything, there’s a potential downside. Digital technology also exposes people to significant risk. Cyber security and privacy breaches are a real threat and fear of negative outcomes, including data protection concerns and nervousness about technology itself, can also sometimes make end users wary of engaging with the opportunities presented.

To be successful, digital transformation needs to actively foster inclusivity. It must take into consideration existing socio-economic inequalities and actively address them to ensure services are truly available to all. It must also incorporate a means of training and educating people to ensure they have the skills necessary to reap the full benefits of the digital age.

Factors including age, gender, education and other socio-economic factors have created a digital divide. One that needs to be closed if society is to benefit fully from the positive effects of digital transformation on wellbeing. While this divide remains, digital technology will only serve to create greater inequalities and, in essence, a digital underclass. How do we close the gap between those who are fully engaged digitally and those who have limited or no access to digital technologies and their ensuing wellbeing outcomes?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those most likely to be impacted negatively by the risks associated with digital transformation are those with lower levels of education and skills. Digital literacy is increasingly a requirement for job opportunities and a lack of appropriate skills can lead to people being trapped in poorly paid roles, never receiving the necessary training to harness the benefits of digitalisation.

It is, therefore, essential that education is a vital component of any digital strategy. In a healthy society, inequalities cannot be left to grow and fester. Education needs to be delivered from the grassroots upwards and ongoing. A passion for lifelong learning is born in the classroom and we need to see digital skills incorporated into the curriculum and viewed, correctly, as an essential timetabled subject. Young people entering the job market today need to be able to live and work in a digital world. For their whole-life wellbeing, they need cognitive skills, IT competency, specialist and general skills and the ability to adapt quickly and enthusiastically to change. In the UK, digital literacy is acknowledged as a core component of the curriculum but – in order to deliver lessons of the required calibre – teachers need intensive training too.

Socitm is committed to promoting steps to build a digitally capable workforce and to address gaps in leadership, diversity, and hard and soft skills. We want everyone to have the opportunity to gain the skills and experience required to thrive in the digital age.

We also drive the development of digital leadership in the public sector, championing the need for all leaders and managers to have a strategic vision of the possibilities and potentials of technology. By improving digital proficiency among managers and employees at all levels, we are striving to eradicate digital inequality in the work place. We champion the importance of diverse leadership and teams, including the empowerment of women, for the design of services and products that work for everyone. We are constantly researching the best and most effective ways to gain, re-train and retain people so they have the up-to-date skills needed to work creatively, productively and happily in an ever-evolving workplace.

Innovation and the sharing of excellence are vital to our vision and our operations. We know that when our members and partners come together, break-throughs are made and initiatives that make a tangible and positive difference to society are discussed and facilitated. One of our key policy areas is Health and Wellbeing and we know that, in offering opportunities for open discussion and ideas sharing, we can help shape best practice and maximise the potential of digital transformation to create a healthier, happier and more efficient world for all.

On 25th April Sam Smith, Socitm’s vice-president, is hosting Share Cambridge 2019. Focusing on health and wellbeing, the event will explore how digital transformation can help drive innovation in services supporting health and wellbeing. It will also examine how digital alignment can support service providers.

Throughout the year, we have been fortunate to work alongside our policy partner, DELL EMC, putting health and wellbeing under the microscope and examining how digital transformation really can change people’s lives for the better. DELL EMC are sponsoring this event and will be hosting a human centred design and co-production workshop focusing on the standards and platforms that are being used to deliver innovation and create new health care models​. However, Share Cambridge 2019 isn’t just for IT professionals in local government and the healthcare sector. It’s for anyone who wants to unlock the full potential of transforming people’s lives through digital transformation. Socitm public sector and NHS members can attend the event for free and there will be plenty of opportunity to network and share experiences alongside our ground-breaking speaker agenda.

Only by coming together can we equip ourselves to eliminate digital inequality and ensure everyone benefits from the improved wellbeing the technology allows. Just as digital technologies expand the boundaries of information available to people and enhance human productivity, so collaborating and sharing excellence expands the boundaries of our creativity and helps improve the health and wellbeing of us all.

Register.

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We know diversity, skills and leadership are vital to digital wellbeing. So much so that they come together to form one of our key policy themes. Policy changes people’s lives, helping them to be healthy, active, caring, vibrant, connected, inclusive, sustainable, growing, curious, creative, learning, safe and secure. Download our Diversity, skills and leadership policy briefing to discover how our vision will achieve better outcomes for all.

Transforming health and wellbeing. Digitally.

Our March Leadership Academy advocate

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Sometimes accidents occur out of the blue… but, sometimes, good things come along too, by accident.

Through our association with Socitm, together with a colleague, two members of LGSS were offered the chance to attend the Top Talent Course in December last year.

The course was expertly lead by Colin Litherland. The content was delivered with a light touch in a collaborative way that seemed relaxed but was always focused. Colin moved us effortlessly through theory, exercises, discussions and introspection. We learnt things about ourselves and our general management styles in a way that allowed each one of us to stand back and look at ourselves and reconsider. The course gave us tools and strategies to try and apply in our day to day working lives. It was also refreshing to be able to discuss more personal, thoughtful, collaborative approaches to colleagues and work situations. Dare I say it, but especially as a man in the workplace, we are often conditioned to behave in a certain way and not show a more considerate side for fear of how this might be perceived. It was refreshing to be challenged to think about these behaviours. Even the LGSS colleague I attended with, who Colin found to be a seriously hard case, had some moments of re-think and found some empathy he didn’t know he had ;D

At the end of the course, we split into two groups and each made a presentation. What struck me most was the way in which we were inspired by the course to work together, we were really motivated to do this, and how in small teams, some of us hadn’t met before, we worked effectively and collaboratively towards two excellent presentations. By sitting down together during the course and discussing openly some important issues, I got a much better understanding of every person in the group I attended with and genuinely missed the time I spent with them and missed them when the course, all too soon, ended! My journey has been complicated by an HGV ploughing into stationary traffic on the A14 and the effects this had on my brain. The SOCITM top talent course was a happy accident and I will take the learning I did on that course with me through my professional and my personal life!

By Alex Haidar
Systems Implementation Team Manager at LGSS – Cambridgeshire County Council

Our March Leadership Academy advocate