Perseverence and Perspective

Day 2 (of about 50 over the next three months) of my time with Newham Social Services, leading the Performance Team (the guys who collect performance information about services and report it to senior management) while a permanent person is recruited.

Getting some sense of perspective today of what’s actually possible in 3 months and accepting that if the client says what they want is a maintenance job then what I should give them is a maintenance job. However, I think maintaining the team’s outputs without the previous team manager is going to be difficult without changing how things get done. He clearly had a lot of knowledge of how reports were generated and carried a lot of the analysis himself. This isn’t something that you can just pick up in three months – even if you’re me 😉 The systems for collecting the data are just too complex to get your head around well enough.

I think the best thing I can do is help them to spread some of the knowledge around, document what’s possible to document and do something about some of the obvious errors in some of the reports.

Something fell into place for me today. In management reporting we often talk about “just getting this report at the click of a button”. But it’s rarely that simple because the information people carry the complexity of matching the reporting requirements to the data that’s available.

I do think that many senior or service-side folk think that all we have to do is click a button and get it and because we want to look cool and keen and effective we often let them continue to believe that (and then go away muttering because they don’t appreciate the complexity of what needs to be done to get decent management reports from a system that’s been designed with user requirements pretty much restricted to data-entry tasks). So when we make them wait for something, they think we’re pissing around because surely all you have to do is “click a few buttons”.