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Digital, strategy and architecture 

Working together to make things right

Leadership meeting, November 2019

Every 4-6 weeks, a bunch of us meet up to talk about what’s going well, what our blockers are, and how we could improve things in digital, strategy and architecture.

We’ve decided to publish our minutes, so we can be open and honest about what we’re working on. These are the minutes for November.



  1. Corporate update
  2. Team day retro
  3. Staff awards
  4. Any other business

 1. Cheryl’s corporate update

The leadership team discussed the potential implications of Mark Ashton’s blog.

We have gathered some initial questions which will help our approach to ongoing operations, as well as future strategy.

Until we have further clarity, we have decided to freeze hiring along with any proposals for shared services. This is because if our service does get repatriated, both of these things just add to the complexity which will need to be unpicked.

Key dates

  • 8th Nov: Leadership strategy meeting
  • 20th Nov: Head of Service meeting (discussing the cost and risk of repatriated)
  • Feb 2020: Provisional final decision on which services will be repatriated

Team day retro

Steve shared a summary from the team day retro.

This is a graph based on our ‘retro darts’ where we asked people to rate how valuable the day was, using stickers (darts) on a target (badly drawn circles). 

We could have increased accuracy with better drawn circles (oops) and some more guidance on ranges (e.g. target areas for each 10% rather than a free-range of 0-100%).

However, even though it’s an approximation, it’s quite interesting that devs generally felt the day was more valuable than the designers did (common misconception that designers are more enthusiastic).

We can also see that we need to think more specifically about how our team days will impact our customers.

The chimp

We really appreciated people’s honesty in the ‘chimp’ section of the retro, where we asked our team to say the things they would usually never say. We can’t share many of these comments, but they have helped us to know what is really important for people, so thank you for that.


People liked:

  • the survival activity (helpful, without too much focus on work)
  • team involvement (collaboration, encouragement, etc)
  • snacks 

People thought we could do better if:

  • we had more time for certain activities 
  • we had more clarity in some of the instructions
  • we encouraged everyone to contribute (usually the same voices taking the lead, so other methods are needed for quieter people)

 Other things that were important:

  • we missed people who weren’t there (Fiona, Barry, Dan, Alan, Jim and the architecture team couldn’t make it, and this was strongly felt)
  • we found the support session particularly provoking (mixed response around the language on this one. Some felt it was unnecessary while others thought it a fresh approach to get people thinking)
  • we want our insights to continue to grow outside team day


One common theme that people ALWAYS comment on is location and venue. It’s worth stating that while we always try and find an appropriate space, we’re limited by availability and cash.

This year, we were really helped out by Kevin White, of Northampton Borough fame, who helped us get space in a decent location, when pretty much everywhere else was booked. Thanks Kevin!

Next time?

We are going to shorten the next team day to a half day activity, giving more time and focus to one thing (and putting less pressure on people to bond for a whole day in a contained space).

We’ll then trial some ongoing focus groups for practice/skills/service improvement that requires more time and continuous focus.

3. Staff awards

Last year the digital team held some awards for people who had shown exceptional flair against our values; share, learn and impact. 

We’ve been asked to do that again this year, so we’re going to! We’re also going to include the architecture team. 

Here are the rules: 

  1. Nominate anyone you feel deserves some recognition (form coming round soon)
  2. Tell us why
  3. The people who get the most votes in that category will get a silly prize

More about this on slack soon.

4. Any other business

Steve said that several members of the team had raised grumbles about low code projects.

We do have real code projects on the horizon, so will try and help developers have experience of both.

However, we need low code platforms to get applications up and running quickly, with reusable components.

Steve recommended that this be a talking point for a future dev day.