Tag: work planning

Meetup notes: Work planning for the win

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At this meetup we worked on the issues of work planning. We used a liberating structure called What, So What, What Next to work through a conversation in three stages.

Here are the takeaways that we captured from participants in the chat at the end of each stage.

Hope you find them useful!

Something interesting that you heard that others do

  • canvas residents, reviewing consultations
  • It’s all about communication!
  • We discussed whether committees used the first meeting of their year to finalise the work plan or whether this was established beforehand leaving the first meeting to actually scrutinise – there was a mixture of responses
  • Topic suggestions invited from the public via website and social media
  • a scrutiny café to discuss work plans
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Communication with Chairperson/Vice Chairperson/Members/Directors and Heads of Service. openness and transparency of agendas etc
  • Public ideas for topics
  • Looking in local media for matters of local interest to be included in work plans
  • moving away from annual work planning
  • Having a google docs type document to share a draft work plan with members and officers for their input
  • corporate plan
  • Looking at the action tracker to see what’s outstanding
  • Interested to see other council using social media to get ideas from public
  • Speaking with cabinet members


What insights did you gain from sharing different work planning activities?

  • Members need to think more critically about whether their ideas for scrutiny items are good enough to make most of resources and time
  • Trying to enable more interaction/discussion at meetings – not just presentations!
  • listen to all members across the administration and opposition
  • Variety of sources for longlist of items for work programme
  • Work programme is a living document and constantly changing
  • increased communication with the public, with residents to inform the FWP.
  • Plan to use different mechanisms for scrutiny in your work programme
  • importance of good chairmanship in making meetings focussed
  • meeting with cabinet members
  • How Task and Finish Group work has continued for some.
  • That officers can talk for too long….
  • Flexible work programmes to accommodate urgent items as and when needed
  • Need to get Comms support for engaging with public to get suggestions
  • Comms involvement helps shape scrutiny and the public interest.
  • A shift in perspective about drawing insights from councillors
  • Setting up meetings with cabinet members and chairs/vice chairs starts the year in a productive way.


Something to do differently as a result of today’s conversation?

  • Virtual planning event with breakout rooms etc
  • speak to comms on what has been high traffic issue on social media recently
  • Use social media to canvass for suggestions for the public and calls for evidence during a specific review
  • looking at local media as well as complaints and consultation feedback as a source for timely and relevant topics
  • Virtual work programme planning with Committee g. use breakout rooms
  • utilise comms / public consultations to gauge better idea of public concerns
  • Liaise with cabinet members and officers more about topics for scrutiny
  • ability to make use of new technology to gather evidence from stakeholders
  • Informal drop-in sessions for people to find out more about scrutiny / suggest topics
  • Look at how we do our social media around scrutiny.
  • Planning the way we carry out the scrutiny – not just the topic
  • start pre-meets with all Members of the Committee for any questions and to inform the line of questioning to encourage pre reading of the agenda and pack.
  • Engage more extensively with Officers to suggest ideas for scrutiny
  • Scrutiny café research!
  • Engaging others and councillors more. Looking at items as a journey
  • Themed meetings
  • Seeking to widen the circle of Members who contribute their input to the work planning
  • Possibly a Scrutiny ran social media account separate from Comms?
  • Speak to comms about local issues they have picked up
  • Nurture three-way relations (portfolio holders, Chairs, Exec Directors) from the start


Sign up now for scrutinymeetup #15: Work planning for the win 🥇

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ScrutinyMeetup #15: Work planning for the win 🥇

2.00-4.00, Thursday 25th March

This topic came top of the poll when we asked participants at the February meetup. And who doesn’t love a good scrutiny work plan?

We’ll (probably) be running this meetup as a Triz – also known as the ‘anti-problem technique’, it follows the idea that sometimes identifying ways to solve the opposite issue to the current one makes it easier to find a new solution. We’ll explain it all on the day when we promise it will make sense. Well, it worked before when we did it, and we had a lot of fun, so we are confident! Oh, and we will be using Google Jamboard again so do check that out if you haven’t seen it before. (If Jamboard doesn’t work for you, it’s still possible to join in so don’t worry)

And there will be nine minute networking of course. We invite you to spend nine minutes in the company of two 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 spam folder!

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

Virtual meetings, health scrutiny, recovery planning and work planning. Scrutiny zoom notes #5

Here are the notes from scrutiny officers zoom meet-up on 10th June. We used an Open Space format and here are the top tips shared by participants from their various conversations. Thanks everyone!

Virtual meetings

  • appeared to be more interest in our virtual meeting than our normal meeting. Good opportunity to enhance knowledge of what scrutiny is about.
  • IT equipment used by members should be corporate so it can be fully supported. Not 40 members with all different equipment.
  • Different systems produce the same outcome!!
  • ensure everybody involved has plenty of opportunity to familiarise themselves with the technology and meeting etiquette
  • ensure sufficient number of support staff available to aid the efficient running and broadcasting of a meeting
  • Quick learning as we go along …
  • Creating a private WhatsApp group with the Chair during virtual meetings
  • It is interesting that not all authorities have live meetings but put them online afterwards.
  • Learning from experience and adapting approach to virtual meetings as may need to be different to face to face meetings due to video meeting fatigue etc.
  • Members more mindful of live meetings.
  • More public watching virtual meetings than would have attended at the Town Hall.
  • need to ensure additional democratic services support for meetings to deal with technical support.
  • Officer Support during meetings
  • Resource intensive – require other officers to help webcast the meetings.
  • the importance of practice
  • Understand the application you are going to use for your meetings and become an expert before any meetings take place.
  • Practice practice practice.
  • Get team support when holding meetings.
  • Useful to watch online again to capture text for the minutes.
  • Virtual meetings – Different tech being used across UK – Not always the same approaches.
  • Virtual meetings – some Councils needing extra resources to run the meetings virtually. Puts a strain on others.
  • Virtual meetings are very resource intensive
  • Whether the minutes for online meetings should be shorter/different from those for physical meetings at the Town Hall.
  • Never ask for Feedback via email/questionnaire get it from people before they leave the room
  • Retaining the use of virtual meetings for use in the future
  •  Acknowledge extra resources for virtual meetings
  • Trying to get hold of the paid version of Zoom
  •  Virtual meetings preparation is key before formal meetings
  • Continuing to use video meetings for evidence gathering and member briefings

Health scrutiny

  • doing health scrutiny at the right level – local, sub-regional etc. how to decide which level?
  • it’s time to start engaging with NHS partners again
  • remember JHOSCs
  • general concern about NHS transparency
  • Is the focus too much on hospitals and not enough on care in care homes or the community?
  • June 15th deadline for letting NHS England which changes are going to be permeant
  • link into normal health scrutiny workplan in addition to Covid19.
  • Possible need for informal meetings with partners before launching into a formal public meeting.
  • Possible pan-London scrutiny
  • Getting health scrutiny up and running again
  • can individual health scrutiny committees actually look at covid response or does it need to be wider (sub regional)?
  • health scrutiny – challenge on whether the pandemic means they will organise themselves differently in future – and not stop footprints!!

Recovery planning

  • pre-empt politics and guide focus towards service outcomes
  • involve all in the recovery planning phase and the scrutiny of it
  • Getting CEX and senior officer buy-in, Leader and other group leaders support.
  • Scrutiny briefings with the Chair and key officers
  • Scrutiny to look at Recovery Plan
  • Scrutiny to look at recovery plan (as well!)
  • scrutiny to start with recovery plan and drill down from there
  • To drill down on the recovery plan

Work planning

  • ‘Paper criteria’ for work planning
  • all Councils working at different speeds in work planning
  • All future topics will be within the context of Covid
  •  Live virtual meetings (so far) have stifled debate


  • Innovation as ‘bravery to fail’ and creating small changes/innovations that making failing more palatable!
  • draw on techniques like agile programme management and design thinking- don’t believe that the parameters of governance will restrict your ambition to innovate!