Tag: impact

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ScrutinyMeetup #14: What are we gonna do with our annual report?

10.00- 12.00, Wednesday 24th February

We thought annual reports would be a really good topic after we were contacted by Catherine Buckley at Knowsley. It is, of course, that time of the year when scrutiny officers are trawling the internet, looking for ideas to share with councillors. You can read Catherine’s post here.

We are going to run it as a fishbowl. We’ve done this a couple of times before and it’s worked pretty well. We ask four or five scrutineers to talk informally about their experiences of a particular topic for 20 minutes or so. Everyone then gets the chance to discuss what they have heard and suggest questions for the fishes who have another round of discussion before a final round of discussion for everyone.

I’m delighted that, along with Catherine, Camilla de Bernhardt Lane (Devon) and Julia Cleary (Wolverhampton) will be taking part. We have a couple of spare places so, if you might like to be a fish, you can let us know when you sign up.

And there will also be nine minute networking of course.

Please do note the new time – we are having our first ever morning meetup so, you know, adjust your Filofax accordingly.

Some practical points

Just so you know, we will close bookings the day before and then send out joining details by the night before to everyone signed up. Watch your spam folder – we will probably send out a separate email to say we have sent the first!

In the mean time, as we will be using Zoom, you might want to sign up / install the app if you can (if you haven’t already) although you can still access through a browser. Details about Zoom here: https://zoom.us

By the way, there are 72 spaces this time.

Hope to se you there!

Dave Mckenna @DrDaveMckenna

Matt Clack @M_ttclack

 

Meetup notes: Demonstrating the effectiveness of scrutiny


This meetup was all about how to demonstrate the effectiveness of scrutiny. We tried a new liberating structure called Triz. And we tried using Google Jamboards for the group work for the first time. Both worked really well. Hooray!

We also had a tenuous disaster movie theme. Matt likes to call Triz ‘Twister’, so that kinda works. (As do the ‘biggest scrutiny disasters’ above.)

In the main activity, using Triz, we honed in on the things we are currently doing that prevent us from demonstrating the effectiveness of scrutiny by asking the following question:

What are the practical ways you and your team could ensure that Scrutiny’s successes go completely unnoticed by local residents and the rest of your organisation?

At the end of the process we identified some of the small things we might do that could start to make a big difference.

Here is the full list of ideas:

  • Do a short video about what scrutiny is and how it works. Would be really helpful if the CfGS could do this and make it available for sharing on their website
  • Speak to Comms team about where they think residents could engage better and see if scrutiny can be part of that
  • Make sure officers across the Council understand what scrutiny is or how Council’s work and the different roles elected members have e.g. Cabinet/backbench
  • publicising Scrutiny more the public and to the Council – members and officers (ie over and above the stat min)
  • issue a Scrutiny bulletin on a regular basis – on the website, and other useful (stakeholder) links/sites – tracking O&S Work Plan
  • invite Press to spend time at offices to be taught about Scrutiny function – Officer led
  • train Members on Scrutiny function – operate a league table for them to compete attendance/competence (think brownie badges)
  • general training – We don’t know what we don’t know – Johari – Member Skills Review sessions. If nec, within their Political Groups (saves embarrassment and publicly competing egos)
  • evaluate Decision-Making Risk , eg assumptions that we know what we don’t know!!!
  • Adapt to how residents want to engage. Don’t insist on particular processes
  • Understanding of the situation: let officers get on with the ‘doing’ before scrutinising. Unprecedented situation.
  • Turn processes virtual. The council office isn’t open for good reason.
  • Promote virtual processes, meetings etc.
  • Get language and materials sense checked by people in the organisation with the skill set to do so – and good neighbourhood community connectors with those skills too
  • Give a presentation to managers on how scrutiny could help them and possibly create a feature on the intranet for all staff
  • Set up meeting with senior managers and leader to discuss scrutiny’s role
  • Provide regular update reports
  • Talk to the comms team about social media posts to explain / promote scrutiny

And here are the favourite ideas identified by the participants.

  • Creating a video about what scrutiny is/does
  • Talk to the comms team about explaining / promoting scrutiny to residents
  • Evaluate decision-making risks by asking Members to grade aspects
  • An easy method of getting all officers in the Council to understand what scrutiny is and how it fits into governance – this is resource intensive so would be useful If CfGS could produce this information or have
  • easily available explainers on their website, like a very basic ‘what is scrutiny?’ etc we could direct members to
  • Get language in reports sensed checked – not just for plain english but for relevance to communities
  • Fully engage comms at the beginning/end of the scrutiny review.
  • Adapt to how citizens want to engage
  • Publicizing scrutiny work – press releases
  • Put in place and promote virtual meetings, processes. you can’t pass a note across the table, just say it and be open

We asked participants ‘What was made possible?’ by this approach:

  • This was a good approach. Using the jam boards was helpful.
  • More objective and granular thought process
  • Promotes a different way of thinking and more creative solutions
  • Good to understand that we all have the same problems and challenges
  • Thinking backwards made us more creative
  • Thinking in a different way – approaching a problem from another angle
  • It was fun!
  • Good way to just flip the opposite of your suggestion. It can be easier to think of the negative and what doesn’t work as a starting point.
  • Anti approach helped clarify how to remedy issues

We hen did a quick exercise to draw out some of the things that people are doing well already…

What helps to demonstrate the effectiveness of scrutiny work?

  • Annual report
  • No. of scrutiny referrals to Cabinet (the more the better)
  • Report annually to Full Council which is a public meeting about what scrutiny has done
  • Robust scrutiny recommendations that led to change
  • An annual report.
  • Quality recommendations.
  • Present the annual report in a more engaging way (e.g. Microsoft Sway report)
  • Outcome based annual report

Thanks to everyone that took part and…..

Keep on scrutinising 💃🏾

 

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ScrutinyMeetup #11: Deep impact: Demonstrating the effectiveness of scrutiny

14.00- 16.00, 4th November 2020

In this meetup we will be examining that thorny problem of how to show that scrutiny is making a difference (it is of course). It’s been suggested by more than one participant and we know it’s a tricky one.

Loosely weaving in a tenuous disaster movies theme, we will be using a new Liberating Structure called Triz (well, new for us, anyway). This will allow us to ‘create a clear space for innovation’ and ‘invite creative destruction’. Good eh?

We will also have the ever popular nine minute networking of course. We invite you to spend nine minutes in the company of three random scrutineers in two rounds. We suggest a couple of conversation topics but it’s up to you really.

Some practical points

Just so you know, we will close bookings the day before and then send out joining details by the night before to everyone signed up. Watch your junk folder – we will send out a separate email to say we have sent the first!

In the mean time, as we will be using Zoom, you might want to sign up / install the app if you can (if you haven’t already) although you can still access through a browser. Details about Zoom here: https://zoom.us

By the way, there are 72 spaces this time.

Hope to se you there!

Dave Mckenna @DrDaveMckenna

Matt Clack @M_ttclack

How might scrutiny add value and support frontline services right now? Scrutiny zoom notes #2

How might scrutiny add value and support frontline services right now?

At the scrutiny officers zoom meet up on 21st April we worked on this question and made the following list.

Thank you so much to the 20 participants from across the country who took part 👏

  • Help to gather feedback on peoples experience of services over the last few weeks
  • Raise awareness of what is going on and service changes
  • Looking at Business Continuity Plans to see how they are being used at the moment.
  • Engage the community on what has worked and what hasn’t in terms of covid response
  • There could be some discrete task and finish work on topics such as refuse collection and disposal, safeguarding and school attendance.
  • Feeding in community insight/on the ground experiences
  • Scrutinising the application of the emergency plan – is it doing what it is supposed to do?
  • Keeping things on track with timings and targets
  • Asking about alternative plans
  • Dissemination of local Covid-19 information via a weekly All Member Briefing.
  • Bringing a degree of transparency to decision-making processes and oversight of decisions, as well as bringing valuable community intelligence on cases
  • Hold council to targets and timelines to help keep on track and avoid any drift
  • Bringing together information on the key activities.
  • Community engagement – what is working and what isn’t working.  Are you getting the food parcels etc. 
  • Role of Public Health as a bridge between LA and health partners
  • Chance for officers to explain how services have had to adapt and how this has been done
  • Drawing on community insights and councillor knowledge
  • Assist in post covid recovery efforts in task and finish groups
  • Look at the processes that are being used and how they could be improved
  • Officer knowledge should be captured in strategies/documents so that information can be passed on to colleagues coming into their service
  • Logging decisions and reasons for those
  • What would have helped us respond to this better/quicker?
  • We also considered the degree to which Scrutiny should not distract and considered renaming it to something that looked more practical – task and finish orientated
  • Be agile and flexible in how scrutiny is structured
  • Local decision making related to Covid-19. e.g. closure of different services that are open elsewhere or the opposite
  • Learning valuable lessons as we go along, not leaving it for a debrief
  • Allow the public to input in to service changes (understand the ned for them)
  • We also looked at how emergency plans had stood up to reality 
  • Ensuring coordination between directorates 
  • Ensuring delegated decisions are also being communicated properly
  • Checking that our safeguarding of children remains strong.  Ensuring care workers are properly equipped. Is the emergency plan working? What about issues arising now? eg flytippin – Covid can’t take over everything.
  •  How to influence/shape the economic recovery.
  •  We looked public health function of LA
  •  Scrutiny to be the mech to circulate information to enable people to understand what is happening during these times.
  •  Help to prioritise services in the future and review comms
  •  Oversight of strategic decisions, especially on budgets being redirected
  •  Assessing the effectiveness of the local emergency response
  •  Vulnerable children kept safe