Time to wake up, listen and delegate to your people

Its day 8 of self-isolation and its starting to hit home how hard this will be; coughing child seems to be recovering energy and appetite but the number of stories of friends of friends on ventilators growing by the day and my parents and Rachel’s in isolation and its hard.

It’s totally clear we are not alone in any of this.  The families feel in a pressure cooker, the singles feel lonely and the new couples now locked in together are about the hit the fast forward button on their relationships.

RedQuadrant has been pretty good.

Perhaps because we are used to working remotely, working to crazy deadlines and in high stress situations, Fraggle rock is a familiar place to us.  However, not everyone is so lucky and I have had a few accounts from friends and relations of people crying through exhaustion, fear and frustration on work video conference calls.

The technology will be a life saver in all this; but it’s also a danger.  It can dis-inhibit very bad behaviours including micro-management.  When we meet face to face a basic human mechanism kicks in and we start to register the emotional state of the people around us; it’s hard wired into us to do this.  Working remotely massively reduces our ability to do this as does stress.  Not being in the same room as your team can make you less included to trust they are doing their jobs.

I am also seeing many new websites being set up without anything substantive behind them; it feels like magical thinking by senior leaders to imagine new websites can save us without people behind them.  Perhaps it’s just easier than large scale engagement and delegation.

That may sound a bit luddite; it’s not.  I’m saying that technology acts as a force multiplier.  It can help deliver good ideas and help bring people together and help people do more.  But, without the good ideas and good people and delegated authority there is no force to multiply.

So if you are a leader I think it’s time to wake up, listen and trust your people enough to empower them.

You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share

It’s not about the IT it’s about exploiting the social capital

Having spent weeks setting up a community volunteer network I didn’t think I might be one of the first to use it.  But, our daughter got a headache and temperature on Sunday morning so now its home school, sick child and self-isolation for fourteen days of comfortable – if fractious and nervous- confinement.

That won’t be the case for many other people without money, food or social capital.  The people I see down the soup kitchen, or who rely on the local food bank, who for a multitude of reasons are struggling in normal times will rapidly find the situation much bleaker than mine.  Some will literally be on the streets as it has upset their mental health to the point they can no longer cope. Many of them will be going to their council for support, now or very soon.

Its undeniable part of this will be about resources and technology.  I have heard many clients saying how utterly relieved they are that they had rolled out home working before covid hit or at least had enough to allow them to work now.  However, it’s also obvious that the tools alone won’t fix this and there is a need for intelligence and insight.

Having a litre of milk arrive on the doorstep 20 min after a whatsapp request yesterday certainly make me feel better.  There are no online delivery slots in my area.  Having two bags of shopping arrive this lunchtime courtesy of a neighbour made me really realise how much this will be about ‘localism’ and local grassroots networks.

Yes we will be using tech, but it’s not really about the tech.  It’s about people, relationships and solving problems.  If local government can tap into this massive bank of social capital the road ahead will be much easier to navigate. Now is also the time to act.  The sun is shining and it feels very odd.  That reminds me of the phone footage of the Boxing Day Tsunami.  When the sea disappeared many tourists wandered down the beach to look at the funny fish; they should have considered why and what was coming next and headed for the high ground.

You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share

Covid response – It’s change but not as we know it

Its feels a bit star trek this week in supporting Local Government ‘Its life Jim, but not as we know it’. There is also a great Spock/ Kirk bromance meme going around regarding self-isolation. 

That feels pretty much where I am with clients, the priority services are still the priority services, the opportunities for channel shift are still the same and the need to manage more demand to self-service is still a priority.   Its change Jim, but not as we know it.  Now it’s far more urgent.

Within days or weeks Councils are going to have to cope with far fewer personnel and potentially big rises in demand for support and information.  Given that most of what a council does in terms of customer contact is not safety critical it should be possible to brigade resources to make sure that those in most need do get support.  Also that councils support the pandemic response looking after key workers and their kids.  The big challenge is going to be driving down all non-essential demand and moving resources to generate enough head space to make this possible. 

Having worked on the Swine Flu response in Cabinet Office I know what went on behind the scenes to muster vast capacity to do screening and prescription of Tamiflu online and by phone (remember that!) and stop GPs and A&E being overwhelmed and it worked albeit with a less deadly virus.  It was complex and it was really hard work and doing really quickly created a lot of challenges, but it was done successfully.  Perhaps because thing didn’t collapse people don’t remember it so much!

Anyway that’s what I’m working on this weekend for a large LA with my colleagues, how to re-work a contact and delivery model in a few weeks to give them the headroom to cope.  Feeling like 30% data and tech and 70% rapid change and communication. 

I just hope I can work out my own strategy on child care and looking after my parents and in-laws who are in self-isolation between now and Monday. 

If you need help on these issues contact me via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share