A lovely chat on the Dr Tech show

I was invited by Pauline Roche and Sweyn Hunter to be a guest on the Dr Tech Show started by the very excellent late John Popham.


This is the part I have checked

Pauline Roache
Welcome to this week's issue of the episode of The Doctor tech show where myself Pauline Roache, Sweyn Hunter, and often guests guide you through the world of online communications in a show which is the brainchild of the late great John Popham. So we start with our special guest this week, Sharon Dale. Sharon, welcome. Thank you for joining us today. How are you and how's the weather where you are?

Sharon Dale
Not too bad. I'm feeling good and the weather's not not too bad either. We've had some really gorgeous weather the last few days but it's not looking quite so nice today.

Pauline Roache
Where are you in the UK?

Sharon Dale
I live in Dorset, so I'm right in the near to the south coast about 30 minutes away.

Pauline Roache
Sweyn What about you?

Sweyn Hunter
I'm in Orkney as usual. The weather isn't very good. It's nice and bright but we get sleet and snow and all sorts of wind and horrible weather. This few days but it'll soon pass.

Pauline Roache
Okay. And here in Birmingham. The ground is dry now it was wet earlier. So surprised to see. But it's an it's a sun is trying to break through the grey cloud. So hopefully we'll get up for a walk later and enjoy that. So today we are joined by Sharon Dale who's a systems convener and we'll come back to you Sharon in a moment if you don't mind we'll just go through some of our other usual things before we start so Sweyn if you want to lead off with the things you found during the week.

This section is yet to be proofread

Unknown Speaker  2:12
Well, I found a couple of awareness days this week, the first of which is called National storytelling week and it's underway as of Saturday. It's now Monday, the 29th of January and February the 4th. There's national not international about financing UK wide national storytelling taking place in storytelling clubs, theatres, museums, schools, hospitals, spoken word venues and care homes which is a bit interested me and frankly, it's been expanding in care homes each year. It's just what it says it is it's a week to celebrate the telling of stories. Wherever the events take place. The web of stories will be spun with sufficient magic between the breath of the teller and the ear of the listener. It says the week war is celebrated by all ages, enjoying folktales fairy lore fragments phantoms, Dragon separate storms at sea and everything else. And it's promoted by the Society for storytelling, which is active in running events throughout the UK all year round. They say remember, everyone has at least one sort of towel. It exists in the very air around you. Your story is the one you know best. And as it is only the beginning. The stories you tell might begin with once upon a time or not in my time, not in your time but in someone's died. And so on and so on those jobs John Popham, our founder, it was a great guy for emphasising the need for us all to tell stories and what what we're doing tell the story of what's going on. Don't just use dry data. So that was that was that was that was

Unknown Speaker  3:53
that was that was very good in Ireland. We saw our stories in Irish with Philadelphia though it was a similar A LONG TIME AGO A long time ago. Yeah, and it's great to hear that those kinds of words that bring they evoke memories already you know, when you're when you're ready to hear a good story and they talk more about this work now don't they as well. We're telling the story of something really makes a difference. It's not you know, it brings something to life that makes it relatable, and that's what people talk about. Yeah. So yeah, good storytelling is important.

Unknown Speaker  4:25
So the second awareness slot that we've got today is it is national dignity Action Day, and that's on the first of February, which is, I think, tomorrow, Tuesday, and this is an annual opportunity for health and social care. Workers and members of the public to uphold people's rights to dignity and provide a truly memorable day for people who use care services. Dignity Action Day gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to upholding people's rights to dignity, and provide a truly memorable day for people receiving care. The day aims to ensure that people who use care services are treated as individuals and are given choice control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives. It Dame Joan Bakewell, who's their dignity and care ambassador said dignity Action Day highlights a more respectful way of behaving towards vulnerable people. very old and very young clearly need our respect, but it wouldn't do any harm to spread the dignity message across the population, then we can all benefit so supporting the day well raise awareness of the importance of dignity and care provide someone with an extra special day demonstrate that everyone in the community has a role to play in upholding dignity and care. remind the public that staff have a right to be treated with dignity and respect to and it'll provide a great community networking opportunity. So on this day, the the ask is that health and social care workers promote dignity in their place of work. And they also asked that members of the public promote dignity for people in their communities and that a flyer and resource packs on the website there on the screen are important. So that was another one and and finally third thing today is our event that's going on in Manchester a week today, I think no, yes, on the seventh of February and it's the digital skills festival conference. It's a Manchester focused event and it takes place in person there on the seventh of February from 1pm till 630 was the opportunity to network with others who are there. The digital skills festival conference is for professional industry professionals, education experts and policymakers to discuss and share strategies for tackling the skills issues facing our industry. Consider topics such as employment in Manchester growth areas and some imagined technologies. And along with keynote speech from Craig Fenton, who's the director of strategy and operations for the UK and Ireland at Google. They'll be looking at the digital age is more than ever a human age, the future of technical education. They'll also be sharing the findings from this year's national digital skills audit, which we've mentioned in this programme. And looking at the impact on the industry and what it all means and attendance is free and is open to any digital business. Or education provider. So that's the digital festival conference on the seventh of February.

Unknown Speaker  7:34
Great great to see that happening and I hope similar things are happening in other parts of the country because it's, you know, we, as we know well from this show and other in other places, digital skills are kind of forgotten, and you know, kind of people assumed you had digital skills maybe or they they they didn't it wasn't it wasn't something that was taught or something you kind of picked up along the way and it's been gaps there and I'm sure I'm sure you've come across that in your in your work and you know that kind of people's digital skills vary, and how do people

Unknown Speaker  8:09
really I think, as you said, it's assumed a lot of the time and generally if if someone is at work, and it's assumed that they have certain skills they don't feel confident saying no I don't. I need help with this thing. And so you just end up with a situation which just festers and gets worse until someone comes along who can help that person or you think about it in a different way.

Unknown Speaker  8:35
Yeah, I'm I worked on coming across people, older people who are having to kind of pretend to some extent or to to feel left out and incompetent because they don't have digital skills. And they just end up feeling bad about themselves because that affects the learning. If you feel bad, you can't you can't learn very well I think and kind of I I'm constantly encouraging them to blame the technology. You know, blame the fact that they weren't, you know, taught the skills or the younger age and then just to kind of know that they can, they can learn something even, you know, for 50 and, you know, development and and get to enjoy, you know, some some of the rest of us take for granted. So Sharon Welcome to the programme. Just a bit by introduction. Let me say that Sharon's a systems convener and she brings together groups from across the system and helps us work together to make their efforts successful. This is usually the role of trainer facilitator or team coach or workshop designer. She has considerable experience of working with senior leaders from across public sector and charming is skilled at selecting and using a range of methods and tools to enable a group to communicate and work together in the most effective way possible. So Shawn, we've known each other a few years through local golf camp, I'd say he's probably where we've come across each other. I think Shawn Swain was saying the same that that's where you and he have met in the past. We actually work together only this past Friday. So join us a bit about that and what that was about.

Unknown Speaker  10:02
Yeah, sure. Thanks very much for inviting me, by the way. Lovely to see you both twice in the last four days. It's amazing. So on Friday, I ran an experiment. So a big a big one for experiments. And it's kind of speaks to the things that you're talking on your own about people being unsure about things. If you call something an experiment, it's a lot easier for them to try something and be okay with it not working okay. And I needed to be okay with this not working okay. Although routed. So the idea was that when we're together in an office, we even if we're not working directly with someone or speaking to someone, we can see someone across the office and it's just a bit of company or you can go to ask someone something or whatever. And I've heard lots of people recently saying that they miss that, you know, they're in their back bedroom or, you know, their only bedroom or their front room or wherever and away from their colleagues. And I think again, that it encourages some of this you know, oh, I'm okay. I'm doing okay, I'm getting on with my work and that kind of thing. And so I thought that it'd be a good idea to try having a virtual co working session. So I found a tool which is called wonder and it's a virtual space. And unlike teams and zoom and Skype and tools like that, where we have a meeting together this these types of tools, they they replicate what it's like to be in person a little bit more. So what it does is it allows you to move closer to people and further away from people and have conversations or just be in the same space as someone else and see the avatar. So we had 11 people sign up. I made it 12 maximum and I think everybody except one managed to come along for some of the time. And again, the idea was that people would come when they were able to not you know, you've got to be here from this time to this time. And so maybe we can see Swain in the session with a video this chapter you can see to the right is actually a video so it's a pre recorded video that tells you how to use it. But when you first pop in if you're not expecting to see any of it strange. So what I did was set up some spaces for people to use so that we could have a quiet space meeting room space. And broadly what happened is people came in and they use the space. So we had some great conversations at the beginning. And then people kind of went off and did their own thing.

Unknown Speaker  12:47
It was really good. I've just, you know when I arrived it was so easy to get in which I really enjoyed. And they're so intuitive just to kind of stand next to somebody like you're in a social or you know an office someplace and then then the circle would you know expand and he would join each other in the same space and it was just a really enjoyed it and I you know I've you I was comparing it to remote is another space like this that only Sanford who's been on this programme before. Kind of really likes and uses a lot I think but it might have felt friendlier somehow Yeah. Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker  13:26
think organic it seemed to me I remember Finding Nemo for for certain types of events, but for just just a Hangout, which is is nearly what it's kind of work based Hangout event that you were running on Friday. I thought it went really really well. And I also think it would work really well for kind of informal unconference type, golf camp BarCamp type events is what I think they'll be really good platform as long as it as long as everyone could access it. One some question about how good it is on mobile devices. I think that we need to be right here, but in general, I thought it was just this my feedback for you, Sharon in live in real time. I thought it was absolutely excellent. And I look forward to using it again for

Unknown Speaker  14:14
various different things. Yeah, people who weren't able to come but saw on Twitter said you're going to be doing this every weekday. You know, and I say well, let's see, you know, and certainly it seems that there's a bit of a demand for this kind of thing. And maybe we could just you know, the space could be there and could be left open. And you could just chat to Andrew the video that stands up. But what I liked about it was it was absolutely as you say it's it's low friction and to your point about whether people can access it or not. One of the ladies who came along said can you please send me a link so I can test that it works on my device because she worked in central government, and it did so that was a good sign. I need to test it with my special person who I who is very locked down who I test everything with I need to send it off to her to see if she can get into it. But yeah, anything like that. What would

Unknown Speaker  15:07
you say very lockdown Sharon can explain to some people might not be aware of what that might mean.

Unknown Speaker  15:12
Yeah, so a lot of people who I've worked with in the past have worked in government departments. And for good reasons are very risk averse around the technology that people can use, because because obviously if people can, anyone can join a meeting, that anyone can join a meeting, you know, and if anyone can see information, then that could be problematic as well. So we need to think be mindful of those things. Whenever we were considering the tool or use of a tool

Unknown Speaker  15:39
and is the one where does the tool come from what countries origination?

Unknown Speaker  15:45
That's a good question. I knew who asked the question to that.

Unknown Speaker  15:49
I think I think it was us I think I looked at the because it reminded me of another because I've got a friend who works at a tech company in Birmingham. And I think it's wonderful. It's spelled with just W O MDR. So I thought it was him but it wasn't it wasn't so I think the people I saw were from the US. Yeah, so

Unknown Speaker  16:09
maybe looking it up now.

Unknown Speaker  16:12
I'm googling expression on my face.

Unknown Speaker  16:15
Yeah. did tell me you were just gonna say that you sent your manual reader.

Unknown Speaker  16:28
Yes, I am. Oh, yeah, I

Unknown Speaker  16:30
obsessively read the instructions for things.

Unknown Speaker  16:34
So I'm not sure this is supposed to do that. And we look at the pages and things and you know, sort of having having like libraries in the background. Well, this is $11 million. So that's I think that's for us. One but yeah,

Unknown Speaker  16:49
they've now have a worldwide community. 3.8 million users only two which for me.

Unknown Speaker  16:58
It reminded me of when the Impact Hub was I was working in Birmingham. I'm sure you both know that. I was based there for five years from from when opened to when it closed. And it actually reminded me of, you know, experiences I've had there, which I think was a great compliment to us. Because they were some of the best years of my working life. So yeah, that feeling been able to generate that feeling. Again, I mean, it helped obviously that you were there Shannon Swain and people I knew and liked. But yeah,

Unknown Speaker  17:30
I was really impressed by was Pauline and I generally have a chat we call it an editorial meeting sounds very grand for this programme on a Friday. And so as we were both going to be there, I wondered if it be possible to meet you there and it just absolutely worked. We just moved out of avatars together. The video calls started we had our normal chat in the normal way we shared screens or not and all the rest of it. And then when we were finished with that we went we moved a little avatars on the screen apart again, the conversation stopped and then we'd go off and either work quietly or meeting somebody else. It just it's just absolutely works.

Unknown Speaker  18:07
And yeah, we become used to kind of having meetings like this for somebody with technical knowledge has to move you around or you know, and it didn't. There was none of that friction as you said so that worked really well.

Unknown Speaker  18:18
If we could live stream one of the meetings in the Wonder me room we can do the whole show on wandering

Unknown Speaker  18:25
into. So Sharon, let's let's kind of go back in time then and kind of look at your early roles interested in where our guests started their digital career if you like so can you tell us a bit about your early digital life in digital and and how it got you to where you are now.

Unknown Speaker  18:42
So I'll try and give me the the short version because we could be here all day. haven't got all day. So interestingly, I will start right at the beginning I when I was 16 I left school and for people like me the job thing the the opportunities were really nursing or secretary and neither of those definitely not nursing having to go anywhere near that. And I applied for jobs in London, and I was fairly close to London at the time. And I I just took the first one that I got because I didn't really know what I wanted to do. And I became a telecoms operator, which is brilliant because it means I can tell people I train but I used to be email for a large insurance. Lloyds reinsurance company, because that's what it was. We were we were messaging to other organisations, people would come and put a piece of paper in the intro, I would type it out, it would go off to someone and then we get a reply back and I give it back to people, which, you know, obviously some of that is understandable to people. People quite grasp it. I done training in email in 1993. It was the earliest that we were kind of getting into that kind of thing. I worked in IT support. And that's, I think that's that's kind of where my passion for helping people with technology because that's what it is. It's not for me, it's not about technology. It's about enabling people to be able to do something with this is where we all get on with you so well Sharon. They like that. And so that and that was really enjoyable. So I'm, I'm a bit of a fixer. I like it you know when things all go wrong, that's when I kind of stepped forward and you know, kind of grasp the metal and get on with it. So I did it sport for a while I then started to do some project management and then I had a bit of a career change. I went, what happened is that my other half was looking for a job. He circled a job in the newspaper. He was the facilities manager. Oh, that looks interesting. I could do that. He said, I bet you couldn't you wouldn't get it and I written right. It's I got it. I spent four fabulous years working, running a building with digital businesses in it, which was really interesting. And it was about service provision. It wasn't about facilities management, a tour or reserve to make sure that toilets were clean. But it was more about you know, how can we help these people to run their businesses? And as you said earlier, polling about the Impact Hub, it was very similar to that. You know, it was people have their own little offices, but there was an there was that there was a fabulous interview it was done by one of our clients. And she talks about the serendipity of being in that space. And that's why they were there wasn't the cheapest place in Leeds, but what it meant was that they bumped into people in the atrium or meetings or events or or whatever. And so it was always about thinking how can we do something which will help these businesses to be successful? So I love that I did that for about four years. And then after that, I went freelance. So since 2012, I think probably I've been freelance. And in 2014 I was invited by Matt Edgar who you probably knows who works now at NHS X to help him with a thing for the Government Digital Service, which was called the service manager programme at the time. And that was so my career has kind of been before government and after. And so that is kind of the crossing point. And so since then, I've been working with people in the public sector. And again, you know, this was a new job. They needed to work differently we were using, they were using Agile techniques, and needed to understand what that all meant and so that I spent four years working in lots of doing lots of training and awareness stuff. And since then, continue to do some consulting and training and things like that, but all with the public sector.

Unknown Speaker  23:02
So when you talk when you say agile, can you explain what that might mean? Some of you wouldn't be aware of this

Unknown Speaker  23:07
problem at all. So the way that we used to do projects is that particularly in in government and in large organisations, is that someone would have an idea. They buy into it in a big way. They try and get lots of other people to buy into it. They would get a big list of requirements. What is it that we want this thing to do? They wouldn't necessarily look at whether it was that good an idea or not, some people would, some people wouldn't. And then they would give it to someone to go away and do awesome software development, that kind of thing. And the thing would come back maybe two years, maybe five years later, by then things probably have changed. And then give it to people and say, we've given you this marvellous thing, and people would go great. Often it didn't work very well often it didn't meet the needs of the people who needed to use it. So Agile is something that it started about 25 years ago, but the phrase was coined in 2001 when some software developers who were working in this way already came together and decided to name what it was that they were doing. And the idea is that you you look at what it is you're trying to do you make sure that you're you're you're doing the right thing that you are that you're working for mentally and and iteratively so you're building small and you're making sure that it works before you actually give it to someone. And a lot of the government things we also add to that a lot of design. So we're designing things properly. Things are always designed, it's just whether they're designed by accident or intention and use a centeredness so we're doing user research and we're making sure that the things meet the needs of the people you'll need to use. So going from kind of Big Bang approaches, which obviously, you know, we want to be able to say Tada, here's the thing that we built, but really that's not a good way of doing it. So it's it's helping people to understand all of that. And, again, helping people to be happier in the work that they do. I think I told you palling on Friday that one of the people that we trained we did a really long six week foundation course. A big foundation courses and a lot of foundation and we had one chap who was about to retire. And so he I think he was sent on the course to differ a bit of time. He delayed his retirement for four years after that course because he, you know, he just absolutely loved that. He could see the benefit of working in this way. I think he has finally retired now, but you know, and I've seen like a huge difference to lots of people. Because they're, you know, it's a totally different way of working. It's obviously difficult because it's about change. Change is difficult. Change is difficult within organisations. But it's been the most most satisfying work I've done. And now I'm moving more into the moment particularly what's what's really popular is ways of working when we're not together. So and throughout all the work that I've done since 2014 I talk about confidence, building people's confidence, building people's capability, and building community because we can't do this stuff by ourselves. And I think one of the things I see a lot is silos, obviously large organisations that sorts of silos. And it's really for me about about locking those silos down and helping people to work together helping people feel confident about what they're doing, and be proud and say, you know, I can do this thing, but with an experimental way of doing it so they don't feel scared. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  26:53
So, you know, had for 293 years come out three years now. For of lockdowns and various things. How has that affected the work that you do? Improved, increase, decrease change what's happened for you?

Unknown Speaker  27:08
Question. So a few things have happened around that time. So I discovered a some methods for liberating structures in about 2015, I think. And so I got really involved in that and so a lot of the community are in America. So we did lots of zoom calls in 2016 2017, which was great for me because when 2020 came along, it was really familiar with it. So one of the things we did was we we, we tried to work out how we would take these things that worked really well in person and change them so that we could do them online. And sometimes that works really well and other times. So it changes the thing so much that it doesn't really meet the need anymore. So there was lots of thinking about that. So in 2020, I was working at that point for an agency, and we'd done lots of things face to face in your face. And I went to service designing government and the last event that I went to before the lockdown when it was you know, about a week later someone said, Oh, someone that service on government has tested positive the COVID so please go home right now and then come back. And we all actually get we closed the offices from that Monday, which was a couple of weeks before the national lockdown. And so then I was at home for from from that time. Being used to working online was really, really helpful. And so we did a lot of work about within the organisation about how to work online and they had to work in you know, and then when people will back in the office, how to work in a hybrid way. Which is trickier than being on and so, I've done I've done two or three pieces of work where I've been working remotely. I worked for a large organisation that's based in Plymouth, you might go work out here that is to say, land registry so Majesty's land registry, and also the Navy so I'm glad I cleared that up. Also, some some work with a an agency of Defra and those works really, really well remotely. Another experience I'd had that made that that work better was when I was I was working for Department of Education, actually, Manchester. We never I think one day we had everybody in the office together, but most of the time developers will know. And so we've worked out some really good ways of working together remotely. So you know, it takes a bit of time and you have to keep reminding people and I think I said on Friday, again, I'm good at knocking people when people forgot to hold the mic and talk into it when they were talking before the mic reach them. I'd say out on you know, people can't hear you. So and eventually we got really stuck at it. And then one day when we went from the private public beta we have everybody in the office so that but you know, so we were used to working in those ways we used to running things like retrospectives remotely and all of those things

Unknown Speaker  30:32
are registered today. Yes. Where you look over the bit of what you've just completed and you ask yourselves what's gone well, and hopefully better it was done all that stuff within the Agile method. It just struck me as you were speaking, that the the entire history of all government services being moved online. You could look at that through a lens of it being a general case of hybrid working because what are these destructive strikes me about hybrid working is it kind of depends on how cohesive and or otherwise and how closed or open the group of people doing it or if you've got a very cohesive, very closed groups, like say, a bunch of software developers working on the same project, then the challenges you have to overcome are probably less than if you have like a huge multi, multi, huge team distributed all over the countryside. who do have to work together but don't meet very often might or might not. And it just seems to be that you can generalise that farther, to bring the public in. I want to access a service from this bit of local government. The hybrid work is hopefully the hybrid working people do involves stuff like stuff in preparation for in person meetings or video meetings, just as websites can either deal with the issue for a citizen or a customer or it can lead on to actual interaction with staff. So there's kind of similarities or I'm trying to think of the term they fit onto one of them none of these problems slightly. I'm just sorry, that is my moment of epiphany for today. Just as you were talking, so that's that's quite interesting, I think. I mean, I it's really interesting to hear what you're saying about having been doing hybrid rocking before the pandemic. And I think that's that. I think there's something to be done for those of us who were kind of moving that direction beforehand, to try and make our influence felt as we come out of the pandemic I mean, in England, and even in Scotland. Now the work at home if you possibly can. Advise is changing to carefully go back to the office. Well, that's the message in Scotland anyway. And so, it's going to be really interesting how people with your experience and people with other experiences of hybrid working can try and retain the best elements of what we've been doing during the pandemic and try and move forward.

Unknown Speaker  33:05
We're going to have Elster survival on the programme at some stage in the future. He's He's done a lot of work on that particularly and I think he has some interesting things to say but I also think that there's something to be said for not always being in the office, you know, for working from home or from another place or a co working space because, you know, offices aren't necessarily the places where you're gonna have your best ideas or feel most empowered to do you know, do the things you need to do so I'm one

Unknown Speaker  33:36
of the things I liked about wonder, wonder me your modern OB experiment last week was addresses head on. Some of the reasons why people say going back to an office is essential. Like those water cooler moments, those moments in the kitchen as long as you pass each other in the corridor. Well, in actual fact, with a bit of imagination and a little bit of effort. From all concerned, you don't need to do those interactions necessarily always and that way. I mean, I I'm one who advocates this because I live in a Scottish Island and hundreds of miles away from anybody else and for me to physically meet with people is always very expensive or very time consuming unless they happen to live on the same island, which not many do. So, you know, there's all sorts of benefits and opportunities in even in those informal interactions that people seem to think that big buildings with huge car parks. are needed for us. One of the things I was really impressed with with one to me by by was that there's another woman who I met at UK golf camp. I think she was called Judy Reese. No Yeah, we focusing specifically not so much on hybrid work but on hybrid actual hybrid events, like meetings, conferences, whatever. And I think some of the ideas in her ebook could also was worth looking at and just kind of segments the problem. We've tried to deal with different different what we might call use cases, I guess. And so yeah, it's really interesting to see how much work is actually happening in that space. As we go back to as we go back to the office, not like tomorrow.

Unknown Speaker  35:08
I think you asked how much work I'd done. I have a bit of time where I haven't been working because I have been doing some work with a government department. And one of the things that was difficult was was how open they needed to be but weren't able to be. I kind of got put off doing that work. So I stopped going for those those contracts for a little while. And so what I've been focusing on is thinking about things that I can deliver myself so things like you know, the ways of working stuff. So I did a session. I've done two sessions with this particular organisation, one which was really focused on tools. So they wanted to know about using teams better and they wanted to know about using other things. And so we did a specific session on that. And then because they've been because during the lockdown, particularly they found something's problematic. We ran a session which was about three and a half hours last week on you know, what is it about? You know, working in the office, not working in the office working remotely you know, what do you find works well, when we find works difficult, and what we were hoping was to surface some of the challenges that the senior people were seeing. And it did, it was really good. And I used a couple of tools for that. So I use a half slide which is very much like Mentimeter so that's there are a number of tools in this space. And so these are really good for interaction. During a meeting. You can have people together, people not together, and it's and we all interact with the same method. Again, on another project, I was working on him for Barnsley Council, we had a big end of project show, show and share that thing. And we have people in the room and we have people who couldn't come then before the pandemic and we used Mentimeter, which is one of the other ones to do questions and answers which meant then the people in the room weren't at an advantage when it came to asking questions, which is really good. So we use this, this tool and what it may wish to do is ask questions, and have them displayed in different ways when we get the results back. So I did things like word clouds where I'd say, you know, tell me, you know, three things that are really good or up to three things are really good about working from home, and what's challenging about working from home. And what's challenging when someone else's from home, working from home or you're in the office and what's challenging when you're in the office and someone else from home. You know a few different things like that. And it was brilliant and we and we came up with so we did that piece. And then I said okay pick one of those challenges. And type it on this tool which was jam board, which is whiteboarding tool. And we went what we did was brain writing, which is a technique is a bit like brainstorming. But if you were in person, what you do is you take a piece of paper. I have one here I didn't prepare earlier. And you would write your your idea in response to a question at the top. And then you would hand it to the person to your right to your left or whatever. And it's all sit together. And you look at what the person had said and you respond to that. So what it does is it gives you the opportunity to see what all the people ahead of you have said about this particular thing and respond to that. So it's a really nice way of coming up with ideas. And so we did that on on jam board. So someone would put a sticky, and then someone else would put a sticky and so we've got some really great things from that and it came from the people themselves. It's not the leaders going you know, you need to be dressed a certain way when your resume calling. You need to, you know, turn your mic off because people came up with those things themselves so I can then give them a report back and say this is what you all said.

Unknown Speaker  38:53
Mentimeter is a very popular tool in the voluntary sector. And case wide superhighway is a friend of mine, she uses it quite large. It's great to see those things percolating into a sector that traditionally hasn't had the resources to, you know, like the whole public sector to to build on it. And I love the idea

Unknown Speaker  39:12
of of tricks to allow the people in the room where you can look at it two ways. I'll tell a little story about that in a minute, but allowed the people in the in the in the room to be an unlevel playing field with the people who are attending virtually and and some when I was talking to in the last week or two mentioned that when they taken some event out of being online only and doing it with 15 people in a room and seven people joining remotely. There were saying that the people in the room were wanting to join their most events so that they could take part in the off in the offline chat. Yeah, and that struck me as something really interesting that people in the room were had so much changed the way they thought about how they're active and how they're contributing to a meeting that they wanted actually to bring parts of the online experience into the room and I think that that's another straw in the wind from where I'm sitting but it's very encouraging.

Unknown Speaker  40:14
When I'm on Zoom call now I try and encourage people to have the chat open on the side so they can see all these kind of chats regard as well. And they just they just I think they enrich the experience. I was actually at a session on data management and control. A while back with Mike Rose from use was worked at the ODI or has worked at the ODI operations use. And we at that time again, we had people this is before lockdown actually, for only the lockdowns, we had people who weren't able to join the session in person but they wanted to contribute still and we use Trello so people were able to kind of move things again in real time and see what the discussions were happening. So yeah, I think there's a range of very useful things that we've learned to use. That should add to the whole summer things you know, it's when they it's when they start people start feeling left out or that they are under pressure. To use things that makes it less less, less handy.

Unknown Speaker  41:09
It's why it's my hope that looking at some of these very experimental really innovative things will let some organisations who are a bit more staid and traditional and risk of error such as local government which I walk in most of the time or wherever they are. And I would hope that we, those of us in those environments can possibly at least take some of the principles from some of these experiments and demonstrators and see if he can get them to work in teams, for example. There's lots of little bits and pieces of teams that you can use for all sorts of things and everyone, everyone the the, the the correct view of teams, from those who don't use it is that it's terrible and it is quite inflexible as configured in most organisations, but with a bit of effort and a bit of comparing of notes, bit of inspiration from other sectors. I think that there's a lot of a lot of stuff that could be progressed, even within such a restrictive straight jacket as teams to make a lot of this work and it's it's experiments like yours on Friday and all the other things you've mentioned, which suddenly give me the kind of hope that I can start delving into how we've got team set up to try and keep it secure, of course because I have to ask you, but kind of frees up people's creativity to use it in ways that we wouldn't read yourself before.

Unknown Speaker  42:38
Sharma refer to the voluntary sector and charities earlier you have had some involvement yourself. I'm doing it with a charity I think I saw on your LinkedIn

Unknown Speaker  42:46
and yeah, so my well my dog is a pet therapy dog so he's the big one right now. And so that gives us she's had an assessment, and we were assessed that she passed her flying colours and that means we can go into care homes or schools and places like that with her. There's a there's a particular thing that they do where they have children reading to dogs. You know, with the moment care homes were very closed down, but they probably opening up now so hopefully we'll be able to go to a local one. It's just around the corner. Also, I had a stroke 10 years ago, so I've been involved more at that time with the Stroke Association. And, yeah, my bipolar has PTSD. So PTSD resolution is the next one on my list to kind of do some something for at the end of the first lockdown just before we were able to shop, I shaved my head for mind. And I may 500 pounds wasn't quite shaved, but it was quite short. It was really annoying. So why don't you just wait two weeks until you can go to the barber? I said no, I want my full look down experience. Yeah, I've done a few different things.

Unknown Speaker  44:08
So in connection with that you're how have you made sure that you've looked after your mental health and other people's mental and physical health while you've been? You know, while things have been changing?

Unknown Speaker  44:22
Really, really important. I suppose over the last 10 years since my stroke my my I think my view my worldview has changed. I think when you go through something like that you sort of reappraise things and think actually, this is what's important. What's important, and so that still keeps me going. You know, from that perspective. We've had to work really, really hard to get nick the help they needed but he has had some help from an organisation who PTSD resolution they were fantastic. And they came a counsellor straightaway. six sessions off you go. And we went and met this woman. She was absolutely fantastic. has helped him no end. We also go to a local veterans hub where, again, you mentioned the Navy we're based in Dorset and in Portland, and around that area, he's very much in the minority being ex Air Force, and they let him know Jr. service they say. And so that's really lovely because you've got a group of people who support each other and isn't necessarily overt. You know, these are the guys who don't necessarily want to talk about their feelings all the time. But they built a gym so people can do that. They have a thing called mad for dogs. So if you have a dog that supports you, you take you can take them along on a Tuesday or a Wednesday and they they get their own care and attention. They get some activities to do which gives them some time. And they've got a really nice cafe, restaurant and things like that and we can just have chat with people and then making things you know, sponsored things. is a really really

Unknown Speaker  46:13
just looking on the website for PTSD resolution and it looks like a really good charity that gets out that does what it says on the tin and gets on with it. So that's fantastic. Not out there. I was gonna ask you something else. You spend some time with government digital services. How do you think it's, if you're able to say what's what, now that you're not so closely involved? What's your perspective on what they're doing now and what they should be doing? Maybe if you're able to say,

Unknown Speaker  46:41
Yes, I mean, it's difficult because, you know, use when I was there, it was 2014 it was quite a quite it was a very early

Unknown Speaker  46:50
right at the beginning of

Unknown Speaker  46:53
that was about about 2011 When they started it feels like chemistry classes. But certainly, I was able to meet people like Tommy small Mike Bracken, you know, senior leadership, people love so they miss out someone else because I can't remember I really apologise. But and they were great, you know, really, and I think what was needed at that time was you know, strong leadership. And the mandates that have been given by Lord more disease now. And it was a lovely, lovely place to work and I was part of the capability team. I was based in Leeds Makerspace in Leeds they were you know, people in the office, and it taught me some some of these early things about using Trello and working together and one of the other things that they did a lot, a lot of people they did one remote, all remote, you know, so if you were on a call, you'd see people sitting next to each other, you know, and they'd all be on the same call, but they you know, we're talking like this so you didn't have the difference of people in the room. You know, again, it's it's about quality isn't it is about you know, the the experience that people are having, I myself in a long, long time ago, wouldn't have been 2000. I worked for a large telecoms company, and I was based in Leeds I'd moved to Leeds to support the remote offices as well calm got bigger in the UK, and they we had a spider phone and it was well before the times of laptops and, you know, cameras and that kind of thing. And people would just forget I was there. I'd be I'd be able to hear the three people around the slideshow and that was it. No one would be kind of thinking or sharing these to speak or whatever. And it was just a really lonely experience from that perspective. So that really has stayed with me. And then I worked with another organisation and we had people we had someone who, who'd started up in Canada. And so we had and we had someone who would love me and I did this department rotation as well. You've got the laptop when you were turning it around. So the people speaking you're looking after them and making it and then you keep an eye on them and if they wanted to say something. Doors got something to say, you know it's a ridiculous time. For you. But

Unknown Speaker  49:30
yeah, so I think I mean, just talking about GDS, they have had a huge influence on you know, the whole way government is works now and like I was renewing my I was changing something on a government website at the weekend and it was just so simple and it works. Very, very smoothly. And, you know, because I know people like yourself and others who've worked in that system. It makes me feel very fond and very benign about the whole thing, but not everybody does, obviously but I think it just has made a big difference. And I'd like to see that happen. I'd like there to be a charity digital service that was equally you know, sort of seeing that that kind of because the the consistency and they kind of do, you know, across departments now is something that wasn't there before and it does make a big difference. And it's a much better experience for the end user. And

Unknown Speaker  50:23
every time I report a lateral flow test, I think, how would this work? There's a government digital set aside and all that was the point where this was a natural thing to do. So whether or not they're directly behind that bit on the government website is irrelevant. It's the principles and the approach, the common design, and I really do think that's one of the things that's been very fortunate.

Unknown Speaker  50:48
I know that they did have a lot, play had to respond, obviously and lots of people worked on COVID services. One of my particular friends from the days when I was working on Kadlec, Angela was brought in as a delivery lead Delivery Manager on one of the one of the highest profile COVID services and and you know, I think that as you say, you can see that the work that they put in at the beginning to make things consistent and to the cost of work that happens on the design assistant for accessible so you can see things like you know, if you've got a radio button, one of the sort of circular buttons that you pick one of you know, so there's three options you just pick one of them the target area is bigger actually done the image whereas in in the old days it would have been a tiny little thing and you've got to somehow known as someone with a an ancient now obviously injuries button doesn't bother me now but you know, that is really you can understand, you know how difficult it is, you know someone who's got Parkinson's or my mum, my mum has some, something that causes shakes, it's not connected to anything else and it just makes it much, much easier to hit the target. And it's just that constant focus on making sure that the thing is needed, and it's something that government should be doing. I mean, that's the thing. Government should be doing everything government should be doing what government should be doing and shouldn't be doing what other people are doing, and they don't have a mandate to do. And the same with local government. I think that local government, lots of local government people in the years since I joined GDS, I've seen you know, becoming either working together on local digital or I used to live in Leeds. Fantastic, you know, worked on lots of the local digital fund things. I work directly on the Barnsley Income Management System. So they got they built their own income management system and basically got rid of the incumbent which which is the income and for lots of local authorities costs a lot of money is very difficult to change and all of those things. And it was just fabulous going around and doing research with lots of different councils and hearing the stories and that was the the that was a show and tell I talked about where we use Mentimeter just a fabulous piece of work and now you know we did the discovery. It continues on now. I think they're in beta, public beta now. And guy who who is responsible for that, write tweak notes every week while they're working on it and he publishes it on the internet and it's about being open and you know, somewhere if you look hard enough, there's video of me, video of me but I'm, I'm old enough to not care about it so much anymore, you can find it.

Unknown Speaker  53:40
Another great resource that you've referred to Yeah, I mean, I keep promising myself. I'm going to start with it but I haven't yet. But I know that like hero Hussein, for example, who works for chain who found the chain and works for them uses it and kind of work that kind of working in the open sharing what you're doing the good and the bad. Is so it's such a vital piece of work and it's it's overlooked and under underappreciated. I think still, we'd like we'd like to see more of that. And Sharon, I just wanted to quickly I know when I emailed you I asked you about whether you had any contact with you had had an encounter with John Popper when he was around. Have you got any any memories of him that stick out?

Unknown Speaker  54:18
Yeah. So I don't live in Huddersfield. I lived in Leeds, I bumped into. We were all the same events. It's like these days. You know, there are certain people who I who I'm always you know, we're obviously interested in the same thing. It's because we turn up all the events and so, you know, we'd be at the same events in Leeds. I'd see him just around generally. Golf camp, local golf camp. I remember I learned about not not not Westminster from John from Twitter, unfortunately, because I was in Leeds it was a Saturday I was free. I could have gone I didn't know about it until he was there. And I felt like say, Can you let us know where you're gonna be next week? So I've gone ever since then. And in fact, that's February on the 26th of February. And this they've done a really nice thing. I've just received an email actually. And they want us to talk about the one thing that we think local government needs right now and they want us to do a video in memory of John and there's some really nice things on the website.

Unknown Speaker  55:20
I'm trusting that was really good to hear. Oh the family we'd love to hear that. Well they think they know about Yeah, so what's not most mister for those who might not know? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  55:31
I mean, there's a piece where it says Westminster is a free event for everyone who has something positive to say about local democracy. And anyone who is up to the challenge of making it better and that's what it's all about. And look Oh, there I am. That's better than the previous year's photo when I was leaving. I deliberately hidden behind someone. But again, I mean, you know that this time, it's going to be like other people are going to travel with others feels whereas normally I could just jump on the train. But now I'm in Dorset, it's it's you know, worth making. Yeah. But it's definitely worth making the making the titles are really positive. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  56:12
It's great to hear that they're doing something to memory of John.

Unknown Speaker  56:16
Yeah, we're similarly when we we had golf camp. Last year. I had a conversation with a couple of people. I proposed a session about how we should remember jobs. And I had a conversation with a couple of people and we talked about, you know, what the family wanted, you know, similar things. And what we talked about was maybe having particular things when you when you run an open space, talk about, you know, the laws and the rules and that kind of thing, and that, you know, you can be the session if you want to go somewhere else and that kind of thing. And we thought maybe what we could do is think about things where we could talk about specific people. So you know, talk about making videos, and that's about John and then also we have another another colleague who was a photographer who died a few years ago, who went to David. So we talked about the titles of photographs and things like that. Just try and think about those people and what they bought to the community. And I know that I can't remember his selling but Nick, who was Ministry of Justice, he did a lot of work with social media around the police. Yeah. And similarly to talking talking about him on Twitter, I mean, that's another thing you know, we a lot of community coalesces on Twitter, we talk on Twitter, even if we're not getting together. You can see what people are thinking about and that sort of thing. And I know that Amanda, particularly was saying, you know, I really miss him because this is my first camp since he passed. And so it's a nice way of remembering people and talking about people. You know, that? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  57:58
yeah. It's good to remind people that we're all human. We care about each other. And it's not just a job. You know, we because we spend so much of our life doing these things that it's investment of our emotions, as well

Unknown Speaker  58:09
as a specific thing about John was. You mentioned care homes earlier, and I used to go into care homes and teach them digital skills. And I particularly remember I used to ask for volunteers to kind of dial into a call, so that he could demonstrate it. And so I remember seeing that person being in my office at the time and dialling into this, this thing and having, hearing what people were saying about me at the other end, was kind of like, oh, there's someone. I kind of think it was lovely. And he talked about one chap who didn't say anything, the whole of the session, and just sat quietly and I think you learned to see those people and then pick up within during a break. You know, I've had it in training courses where people have just been really quiet. And you don't know whether it's because they were made to come and they want to say that they don't say more important going on, or take for any reason. And so you generally trying to speak to those people and sighs You know, now this is there anything else that you need blah, blah, blah, whatever. And he did the same with this chap. And he said, he said, Oh, yeah, that's really interesting music. Now, Lisa used to sing a lot on music. And so John showed him the things that you could do for free on, you know, on an iPad or something like that. And, you know, I think that's the thing. You learn to be aware of whether people are interacting or not, and just ask those questions just be human. I think.

Unknown Speaker  59:45
The family established the Twitter handles be more John after he died and the date often copies into that because it reminds me of him and you know, we we just miss him because he just, he would have been, you know, he was in his elements establishing this programme. He just would have loved and kind of helped so many more people since lockdown started but we will do our best to carry on the his memory.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:11
Okay, Sharon, funny noises that

Unknown Speaker  1:00:15
I thought I've had dogs on the show before. We've come to the end actually on the programme. Sharon, we're not going to talk about any more stories today. But it's been it's been brilliant. You're You're a great guest and we obviously could talk and talk for for a lot longer. So please do come back on the show again and tell us what what you thought you'd be doing. If people want to find you online. As we often ask our guests where it where's the best place to find you?

Unknown Speaker  1:00:42
My Twitter handle is pixels which is spelled ke IXL Zed. That's the best place to find

Unknown Speaker  1:00:48
me. Find that a link to that in the description of this YouTube video.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:54
With always easiest and then everything else is linked from there.

Unknown Speaker  1:00:57
Great. Thanks very much. And thanks for joining us. Thanks swains and it was another great programme and thanks everybody and we hope you have a good week. Have a Good bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai