On Monday a Resources Board Away Day, with service representatives, was held at the Council's Debden Centre to assist with service planning and the preparation of the Council's Corporate Plan.

In the evening, ICT held its Christmas Party at the Tower Hotel. A good time was had by all. The star of the show was Ben Chamberlain, who wowed us all with his prowess on the dance floor – and a Master-Class with an attractive young lady from one of the other parties at the Dinner-Dance. (Photos are on the ICT SharePoint site!) My wife, Chris, accompanied me; we, and a few others, had booked to stay the night, and we ended-up drinking until past 3 am, which proved not such a good idea when I had to be up by 7 for work on Tuesday, unlike wiser colleagues who had booked the day off!

On Tuesday morning I attended the Trent (HR & Payroll system) Board meeting. We agreed that progress was too slow; there has been inadequate take-up in the training available, and insufficient exploitation of the People Manager module. It was arranged to brief the Executive Director of Resources.

After lunch, I met with Neil Clark and Andy Barnard, from "Red-M", who have been assisting us with the development of our wireless network plans to consider possible next steps.

Then, Geoff and I met with Graeme Hutchinson to agree a programme to assess and improve Data Quality in all Newham systems. Graeme has developed an excellent assessment methodology that provides a graphical illustration of a system's data quality through a "confidence thermometer" (reusing a technique developed by the Shared Learning Group Programme Office for illustrating work-stream progress). He has developed a questionnaire, as part of the process, which we will train Portfolio Managers to use with their Services' management.

We also prioritised the top 10 systems for review. The next steps are to arrange a workshop with Portfolio Managers, who will be instrumental in the review process, start scheduling the reviews and report progress to the Mayor. We intend to pilot the approach with the (relatively simple) Electoral Registration system.

The Mayor's annual drinks reception was held on Tuesday evening. A number of Microsoft colleagues attended with me, and the Mayor regaled them with his allegation that ICT has little difficulty in spending the Council's money!

On Wednesday Geoff and I considered our "frictional growth" investment proposals. Priorities are "Step-Change Improvement" teams to address Data Quality (q.v.), training and support in New Ways of Working as we move to Building 1000, the roll-out of corporate EDRM (Electronic Document & Records Management) and GIS. I plan to write the report during the Christmas break.

After lunch, I met with Mark Barber and Adam Stork, from KPMG, to consider the initial findings from the SOCITM Corporate Services Review, plan their dissemination and to develop the agenda for the PUG (Planning and Urgency Group) and National Council meetings on 11th January. (Other colleagues from the President's Team could not be present, but I had consulted with them by teleconference on Monday.)

On Wednesday evening I had a meal with Alf Raju and James Lee, at Cafe Spice in Prescott Street, to celebrate progress to date in the Newham Telecoms Convergence project, which they have been advising on, and to look forward to some exciting developments next year.

First thing on Thursday, I met Bob with colleagues from HR to discuss our concerns about Trent. We agreed a number of actions, including executive leadership in its use, and "blitzing" resources to dramatically accelerate the programme.

From mid-morning, a system fault resulted in the loss of around half of incoming calls to the Council for the rest of the day. One of the suppliers we called-upon to resolve the fault, with whom we have a 24x7 contract, could not respond because all their staff were at a Christmas celebration. Well, I hope they enjoyed it, because they can kiss goodbye to our business! The fault was fixed during the evening, with assistance from Cisco.

I met with Joanna to discuss my response to the Working Group on Flexible Working in ICT, and actions arising, then we reported to staff at a specially arranged Team Talk. I also wrote to HR, as follows, on issues that emerged:

'In developing the Flexible Working policy I think it's important to note that the terms "core hours" and "Flex" are currently construed as having quite specific meanings in relation to LBN terms & conditions. i.e. "Core Hours" – 10.00 to 16.00, and "Flex" = additional days leave (up to 2 per month) in lieu of overtime.
'I think it's important to establish, in the policy, that these meanings are now redundant. We have found, during consultation in ICT, that staff are culturally quite wedded to them – whereas, when working flexibly, an individual's core hours (if any) should be independently negotiable according to the role and cover required, and the concept of Flex holidays becomes confusing if we embrace 4-day weeks, 9 days over two weeks etc.
'We may, however, want to introduce the notion of buying or selling up to prescribed amounts of holiday?'

On Friday, I worked at home.

I teleconferenced with the SOCITM President's Team, and we agreed the proposals I discussed with KPMG – to immediately distribute the interim findings to PUG, to release them to the National Council in early January, incorporating any comments PUG may have, and to publish to the wider membership following the National Council meeting. A detailed agenda for 11th January – PUG in the morning, and the NC in the afternoon – was also agreed.
It was a very busy, and exhausting, week.

OK – it was partly self-inflicted through my excess on Monday night – but whatever happened to the run-down for Christmas that we used to enjoy in business?? Anyway, I'm more than ready for my seasonal break and for the first time in my working life I'm taking Christmas Eve off, and will be back in work on 2nd January.

Happy Holidays!