Learning Log 163 – Development Needs Analysis 2019

Number: 163

Date: 29/03/2020

Producing the Development Needs Analysis 2019 (view here) was a massive undertaking. I’m not going to go through a chronological retelling of what happened rather examine and reflect on themes that I felt were pertinent.

Project Processes and Group Dynamics

The ‘project owners for this were the Knowledge for Healthcare CPD group (unsurprisingly), so I reported everything back in to that group. It was that group which originally spoke to me about reproducing the original survey back in mid-2018, and the rest of the original 2017 DNA Survey group – Abi, Katy, Lisa, Uma and Sarah all said they would happily return. In the previous iteration of the survey in 2017, the leadership had been much more balanced, shared across the development group.

Although I had originally intended for this to be the case again, it soon became clear that as the desired outcome was an evolution on the work that had already been done, and with a lot of the upgrades being about the survey itself, that I was going to be leading this project myself, so the rest of the group shifted roles becoming:

  • an advisory panel in terms of creation (and making sure I didn’t go and make daft design decisions)
  • main source of promotion/dissemination
  • support with thematic analysis

I felt this approach aligned with the KFH CPD Group structures was very effect as it gave the creation of the DNA survey a hierarchy to complement its process of design and timescales (which although plentiful, I manage to miss most!). It was a successful approach  to a situation where there was no direct management or influence in the system. There was much less ‘design by committee’ this time around, and the reporting structure enabled much less outside interference – it needing to go through proper channels and approval structures, removed a lot of back-seat driving and “can we just’s” that often derail projects. An example of this was a request to change how data was reporting (splitting bands 5 and 6). Whilst an increase in work, it was done in such a manner that I was able to allow for it, and it didn’t disrupt the flow.

I would heavily advocate for a similar process when I am next involved in something like this – it enabled people to get on with tasks whilst giving stakeholders opportunities to challenge and contribute.

Survey Tools

The biggest challenge was the change in survey software tool – moving from SurveyMonkey to Online Surveys. Although I had never even heard of this tool before, I was quite confident in being able to produce something that met our needs, having use many different survey tools before – and also I didn’t have a choice in what I had to use…so just needed to get on with it!

Although a pain in terms of design, the biggest impact came in responses.  a drop in in development choices – aka the development choices people made – had a reduction of almost 59% – 3879 choices made in 2017, to only 1632 in 2019.

The reduction in overall responses – approximately  100 to the survey will not have helped, but I believe this was a failure in design – the way the question had been presented in 2017 was not available in the new survey tool, and I couldn’t think of a way that was neither convoluted or cumbersome*.For the next development survey, a better way to capture this needs to be worked through (and I already have ideas).

There was also an issue around the reporting side on the new survey which meant the creation of a basic report went from about an hour to nearly three. However, speaking to the CPD group we came to a less pretty, more pragmatic solution that reduced that back to less than an hour and still met everyone’s needs.

On the plus side, I can add another survey tool to the list of ones I can use, and I am much better on Excel than I was 6 months ago!

Stepping back into the land of Library

When I was first asked to do this –I was working for PHE on secondment, and the expectation was that I would be staying there…but that didn’t happen. So in my current role which is not as a Librarian and very much not a NHS Librarian, meant I needed to most of this in my own time at evenings and weekends. Which is my excuse for constantly missing the deadlines I set and I’m sticking to it!

I don’t really have a ‘library’ job anymore – I use my key library skills skills regularly in different ways, and I am still called upon to do searches and reviews to support the organisation but its just one of many aspects of my role which is a bit of a hybrid including business management, public health specialist, knowledge and information management and whatever else I am asked to do as one of life’s doers.  Most of library interactions are legacy – and as they wind down, they are not replaced with new library activities or CPD, but more public health or local government focused. A very meta example of this – is the choices I made on this survey – I chose nothing technical, all my developmental areas are ‘softer’ skills – communication, leadership – as this is what my role needs.

From a personal perspective it was nice to be working on a national level once again. As an information specialist, I felt at home on a national level – my skill set and expertise were appreciated more than they had been locally for a very long time, and coming back to this work – knowing that this piece of work I produced will have an impact on shaping every health library persons development over the next couple of years – and as such every person they support within their roles make me very proud.

I need to think deeply about what how I want to progress my career – I’m already established and leader within libraries – I could do many different roles within health (or more) libraries but its been 7 years since I have managed a library service, and whilst previous national opportunities have passed there are always others – but they may require sacrifices. However, I am venturing down a different path and enjoy the challenge of learning wide range of skills, acquiring new knowledge and developing a new expertise.

Demonstrating Value and Impact

A big regret of the 2017 work was that we just did it…and then did nothing else – no journal articles, no conference presentations, not even a piece in Information Professional – and they’ll let anything go in there. We just got on with everything else.

This piece of work – *my* piece of work is going to have an indirect impact on the wider NHS workforce. If, for example a Literature Searching course is commissioned based on the analysis I presented – and someone who attended that training produces a literature search that is then supports service change which improves patient outcomes, how much impact have I had?

Directly? Fuck all.

But indirectly it may have had some, and more pertinently it shows the value of undertaking such as survey. As mentioned elsewhere in this piece, I know I produce good work, but how much does that matter if I don’t know what effect it has? So to combat this, I am going to measure the impact of the survey on the CPD decision makers. I am also going to use the regularly gathered impact analysis from the courses undertaken to measure the secondary impact on the wider NHS Library and Knowledge workforce. By doing this, I shall be able to track the impact of the survey from course commissioning to course impact highlighting the value of this work to Health Education England.

*We went with cumbersome.

Learning Log 162: Appreciative Stance in Feedback/High Performing Teams Day 2

Number: 162

Date: 28th February 2020

What Happened: I attended the 2nd day of a High Performing Teams session. I am not going to talk about the specifics of what was discussed – as what goes on in HPT, stays in HPT – but look at some of the models and tools used and how they may benefit me in the future. In all honesty, these days are about what is said, and what actions are taken from them – rather than the models to frame the conversation so its hard to publicly reflect on them without breaking the trust of the group – I ain’t no snitch.

A main focus of these sessions was development of the FAB team principles and we built upon lots of tools, techniques and models (also had used in the first session) that already well established and included Johari WindowsSinek’s Golden Circle, mindset framing etc. The final session of the day focused more on strategic work and used the SOAR (Strengths Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) Model, which was the first time I had encountered that, and I enjoyed as an optimistic alternative to SWOT. Something that really piqued my interest however, was the concept of appreciative stance in giving feedback and the growth mindset in receiving it.

So What: Whilst people on the receiving end may disagree…In the past I have not be good at giving  authentic, honest feedback (where improvement is needed) often being soft for fear of hurting feelings or causing conflict. This is often the case when feeding back up in rigid, hierarchical organisations – where ‘leadership at all levels’ isn’t established and ‘going away and sorting it out’ is the easier and safer option. And I have been equally bad if not worse when receiving feedback – though more often than not, it was delivered as a Keto shit sandwich…

I really wish that something like the appreciative stance (or any sort of feedback beyond ‘Thanks!’ really) had been around when I was more of an evidence specialist – not only would of it helped in measuring impact and value by framing the importance of the piece of work I had just undertaken, but also on a technical sense, it would have helped me become better at my role, knowing what worked and challenging me on what didn’t, and ensuring that I could deliver a more effective service and products.

Now What: This ‘appreciative stance’ where there is a framework to ensure feedback is delivered constructively with useful challenge received with a growth mindset is something that can really benefit me as an individual, the wider team and the organisation. As I continue to evolve my role into whatever it is, I shall engage with the appreciative feedback of my peers, colleagues and the wider system to develop myself with a growth mindset whilst delivering feedback – both face to face and in email, which is just as effective for those receiving it using this model, enabling everyone to work more effective, achieving the factors which make up Fab Teams, and continue to be a FAB Leader

When/Where: 12th Feb 2020, Bolton

Learning Log 161 – Meaning and Purpose Leadership Masterclass

In a sentence: I attended a leadership masterclass on meaning and purpose which covered a wide range of approaches and models. From this I am going to investigate ‘Ikigai’ as a concept to measure my ‘reason for being’ to ensure I am truly focused on making a difference in the best way I can, whichever way that is!

Number: 161

Date: 14th Feb 2020

Significant Experience: Attended a Leadership Masterclass at RBH on meaning and purpose.

  • What Happened: I attended a Leadership Masterclass on meaning and purpose led by Renee Barrett that covered a wide range of issues including:
  • Emerging themes that challenge our positivity such as change weariness or exhaustion
  • Ways to protect our wellbeing as professional – social connection, gratitude, empathy, self compassion, and meaning & purpose;
  • The Perma Model of Wellbeing – and are we sinking, coping or flourishing?;
  • Resilience including resilient leadership and dimensions of leadership;
  • What we mean by leadership and purpose;
  • Mr Toilet!
  • Ikigai and our reason for being;

So What: This was a really useful session that was a whistle-stop tour that focused on protecting and enabling our well-being through resilience development and finding out what makes us tick! It was this latter point that really intrigued me as I feel I am at a career crossroads, either staying in my level within evidence and libraries or moving out into public health fully.

Now What: I am going to investigate how I can best use the concept of ‘Ikigai’ as a way to self-evaluate my purpose and current professional journey – and if the step away from library-land is what *I* really want, or is something which I am allowing to happen. Gaining greater understanding of this will help me plan out my future development roadmap to ensure I remain professionally focused and challenged.

When/Where: 5th February 2020 Education Centre, Royal Bolton Hospital.

Learning Log 160: Journal Club + (Hot Hits!)

Number: 160 (ish)

Date: 3rd February 2020

Significant Experience: Launching new Public Health Journal Club with Session 1: Hot Hits!

What Happened:I have relaunched our Public Health Journal Club (Journal Club +), moving away from a traditional critical appraisal journal club to something more dynamic with a renewed focus on both knowledge gathering and sharing. Its very easy to get Public Health folk to talk about the evidence (getting them to stop talking about it is the challenge), but I have a keen interest in how we share our tacit knowledge and experiences internally across the team, and also externally both as an organisation and as part of the wider health and care network either in Bolton through the many collaborative and integrated workstreams and partnerships or as part of Greater Manchester collective.

To best achieve this I have laid out a Journal Club + plan using  evidence appraisal sessions and some knowledge management-y activities, available within the KFH KM Toolkit. These sessions will have some traditional journal club sessions, some internally expert-led sessions but also external people who can share different knowledge and experience on Public Health topics – such as air quality or planning. I also want to widen the participants to bring in colleagues from beyond Public Health, as public health done well is system-wide, so why restrict knowledge sharing and generation about it to one team?

This first one was an evidence-sharing session – which I called Hit Hits! (concept shamelessly stolen from my time at PHE 😊) in which an individual presents a piece of evidence for a maximum of 5 minutes then there is a 5-10 minute discussion on the findings and relevance of research to local practice. I felt this was a useful starting point as it fast-paced, not too off-putting as Critical Appraisal can be, but has enough in common with to be familiar,  and lends itself to Public Health evidence, favouring relevance over rigour.

So What: Overall a successful session and a good start to Journal Club+ ! Of course there are things that could be improved – sessions like this need many different voices to be most effective, so with my facilitation AND doing 2 of the 3 papers, I dominated more than I ought to, but this is forgivable  as it is the first session. I believe the concept worked well – and the participants understand the premise of focusing on the impact and relevance of the research rather than the traditional quality – more ‘so what’ and less ‘how’. Its hard to measure knowledge gained as its only 15 minutes on an interesting article, but in terms of getting the participants to share opinions, knowledge and experiences on how something may be useful (or not) to the team, I feel it met its goals!

Now What: Building on the success of Session 1 Hot Hits, I am going to host a peer assist with an outgoing colleague, focusing on project management within a local authority. By enabling this knowledge share, it shall allow more effective project management across public health which can only increase the impact of activities across the system. I also need to set up the impact measurements to ensure its effective in what I have intended it to be!

When/Where: The Office, 29th January 2020

Learning Log 152: Becoming more present in the moment part 1: Digital Minimalism

Number: 152

Date: 15th December 2019

Significant Experience: As part of my effort to be more present in what I do I read the book ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newton.

What Happened: Being more ‘present in the moment’ (I am sure there is a specific term for it) is something that I am trying to become more effective at – both professionally and personally. I catch myself distracted by other things – future tasks or people or just my phone rather than dealing/enjoying/capturing that present moment (and then often having to repeat steps later to catch up on what I have missed through this action). If the ability to multi-task exists, I do not have it! It most cogent to me in interpersonal situations – I catch myself checking emails mid conversation in the office, or during a meeting – or even worse when at home mindlessly browsing social media when spending time with my family. I do not believe this is a prioritisation or procrastination issue, if anything its concentration led and is about allowing myself the time to focus on particular single issues.

A major aspect of this is my use of digital technology and the feeling of wastefulness that I more associate with aspects of it – especially social media. To try and work out these feelings I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newton which seemed to be a more systematic approach to the issue compared to other titles I had read which were more ‘digital detox’ focused.  There are loads of compelling evidence and handy hints about how to work with digital technology in a more even way. The author also develops the concept of the ‘Attention Resistance’ which pushes back against the attention economy driving social media and many corners of the internet. This is an excellent book and it is definitely worth reading!

So What: I found this book fascinating – and also realised that there are many people digitally addicted and I don’t think I am anywhere near that so I am thankful for that! For me – its about finding the right balance, and making digital technology work for me (not the other way around). Its also clear that whilst reflecting on evolving my daily use of digital technology is useful and will aid my mindful approach, it is only as part of the wider problem.

I would really recommend checking this book out and it has definitely given me plenty to think about in how not only to step back from my behaviours but also build new more constructive behaviours into this.

My use of digital technology should be consistent with my core values and belief system – increasing the selectiveness of how you use digital tools. These tools should be supporting things that you deeply value (no matter how deep or shallow). They should be the best way to support that value.

I really liked the concept of quality leisure time and the discussion around ‘The Bennett Principle’ – focusing on active or demanding activity with tangible results over passive consumption and finding these activities that require physical, social interactions. I already have this in running, how could I expand it?

Now What: I have plenty of actions coming from this, as I believe this is my biggest personal development opportunity of 2020! These are a mix of personal and professional but intersect to hopefully produce a more effective me!

  1. My main task is to create and list my core values. I did something similar a few years ago, so hopefully I can find that and update! This will be the foundation of all this work and allow me to have a standard to set my digital experience against.
  2. My next step is to map out what I use digitally – both personally and professionally, and highlight why I exactly use them. This will allow me to make best use of my digital time in a way that benefits me giving me a better online experience and more free time. The biggest challenge shall be how do I collect evidence and knowledge relevant to my role(s).
  3. I am very taken with the concept of a seasonal leisure plan. To fully explore this I am going to:
  • Work out how to implement this into my Bullet Journal 2020 with weekly, monthly and seasonal (quarterly leisure plans). I believe this will give me a structure to build my ‘in the moment’ development on
  • Create a list of practical skills I want to develop ranging from easy (a couple of days) to more challenging (month) to hard (upto a year)- these shall be mainly house improvement based focused on my improving the quality of life for my family.

When/Where: At home, November/December 2019

Learning Log 146: Discovering Cultural Architects and Cultural Assassins

Number: 146

Date: 20th October 2019

Significant Experience: Discovering and exploring the concepts of organisational/team ‘Cultural Architects’ ‘Cultural Assassins’.

What Happened: Whilst listening to a podcast (from the podcasting great Ian Boldsworth), he brought up a Rugby League podcast and how the conversation on it about cultural architects and cultural assassins can be make or break a team really resonated with him. His resonation (is that a word?) also resonated with me, so I began to investigate it myself! It seems that they have come into prominence thanks to the work of Damian Hughes, his book ‘The Barcelona Way’ and his motivational speaking (fun fact: Damian Hughes spoke in Bolton earlier this year – but I wasn’t eligible to go due  to not being senior enough). He is interviewed about his book and the concepts within on the ‘Changing the Game Podcast’ and John Stein also presents a useful overview in this blog post here but very briefly differences look like:

  • Cultural Architects: leaders from within, moving forward focusing on what needs to be done and representing the organisational culture effectively;
  • Cultural Assassins – quietly undermining the culture, sharing their unhappiness with others;

There’s also a concept of decisions being made by individuals on 2 criteria – the cost-benefit analysis to the person and their sense of identity to the culture within the organisation and these impact on what role they play!

So What: I don’t think these concepts are particularly new, I am drawn towards this particular packaging of them, in a similar way I was many years ago I was to The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters. I have some understanding of team role and dynamics (yay Belbin!) but am interested in finding out more about it as I believe it shall help support development in my new role and shall support the development of my engagement and advocacy skills. I am going to be developing my understanding of these of architects and assassins roles (and the wider concept they are part of) and how they impact on my work both as an individual and as part of the wider team. I am also interested in reflecting on whether I am as much of a cultural architect as I think I am!

Now What: By the end of November, I am going to read the Damian Hughes book ‘The Barcelona Way’ as it seems to be the central point for this theoretical approach. By developing my understanding in this area, I shall be able to increase my effectiveness in developing strong relationships, which enable us to produce better quality work.

When/Where: 18th-20th October 219, Home.

Learning Log 142: Talent/Career Conversations

Number: 142

Date: 10th October 2019

Significant Experience: I had a few talent and career conversations. This is a synthesis of those chats…

What Happened: over the past few weeks I have had a few meetings, conversations and catch ups (new line manager x 2 including ‘insight exvhange’ aka PDR, DPH – once individually and once as part of intelligence function, and also externally with a library person I consider a mentor) with a similar focus and instead of on reflecting on them indivually, I felt there were common threads running through them so I grouped them together! (As these were all confidential I wont go into any great detail). The themes of these meetings were:

  • My role in public health is evolving and the focus in my skillset will need to change also;
  • The role of knowledge and evidence may be different to what I envisioned – and how does my vision for public health and public health evidence, intelligence and knowledge compare?
  • There are development opportunities to be had…if wanted;
  • How do i see my short and longer term future?

Other interesting conversations were had as well about confidence vs competence (vs co-operation) and the my belief in the wider work life balance…

So What: I think its clear to see that my role is changing, and there is opportunity there for me to shape this into how I can see effectively deliver in it.

I think there has been an (over) extended period of readjustment for me coming back. There was no clear vision or idea of my role/purpose when I came back. If things had stayed as they were I would have drifted as I had before my secondment – so to have support and belief in that I am an asset to the team is welcome even if it a bit of a different role! I also think now I have a better picture of what is expected of me.

However…It is a step away from my area of expertise and a clear cut from my ‘classic’ librarian skillset (though obvious crossovers still remain) which I enjoy, and am good at. I need to consider if this is what I want – from an information specialist to a more hybrid role with more defined business and development aspects to it. There have ben greater library talents lost to the sector than I, and the library world still keeps on turning

Whatever happens, I dont want to standstill, drift or reverse – as what is past is past.

Now What: I need to examine my current skillset to ensure that I am armed with the requisite skill set to effective deliver in my role and be able to best support the organisation in achieving its ains In the longer term I need to decide what I want to – I know of a couple of ex-librarians who’ve made similar moves. I shall contact them to seek their experience.

When/Where: Various x 2

Learning Log 145: Updating my PKSB…

Number: 145

Date: 17th October 2019

Significant Experience: Whilst on the train down to attend CILIP Member Network Forum and fully updated my Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB)

What Happened: Influenced by a few factors – recent talent conversations with departmental leadership, a rekindling of interest in continuing my fellowship, and speaking about development with the MMU Library students – I had felt the need to reassess my PKSB. So I took the 2 hours on the train down to London for CILIP Member Network Forum (writing this on the return journey!) to capture where I am in October 2019, and where I need to develop over the next few months as an information professional

So What: I found this quite a useful, and at times, cathartic experience. It has helped clear my mind in what i need to do to get on the road towards where my organisation needs me to be.

I feel that my role has quite a clear split between what do as an embedded information specialist and as a member of public health. Within this, I feel I can split my library skillset ways:

  1. Core information retrieval and knowledge management skills still in use;
  2. Traditional library skills that I no longer use (such as collection development) that haven’t been used for a long time;
  3. ‘softer’ inter-personal skills (working with decision-makers, advocacy etc) which I may need to develop my competence and experience in;
  4. Library skills that I have that I can transfer over to this evolved role which I may have felt skilled within a library position but have to gain confidence in using out of that particular setting.

(These alongside non-library skill development areas discussed in my talent conversations – if you can believe such a thing exists!)

Now What: I am going to share this with my leadership to see if they agree with my assessment. Once that is done I am going to produce a development action plan for the next 6 months to try and raise these figures!

I also need to consider if I am willing to let all my traditional library skills slide, and if I am not, what can I do to combat this loss of librarianship I am feeling….

When/Where: 17th October on the train…

Learning Log 141 – ‘Guest Lecturing’ at MMU Library School

Number: 141

Date: 15th October 2019

Significant Experience: I spoke to students on the new Health Library module at Manchester Metropolitan University Library and Information Management Masters Course.

What Happened: The presentations themselves went fine – it was a new experience speaking to an audience with limited knowledge in both health AND libraries (as normally speaking to a room full of specialists in either), and also working in partnerships – the first presentation about PKSB and development needs with Mary, and then with Amy about working on a national scale was also a novel experience as I tend to present on my own,  or produce part of a wider presentation.

So What: It was a really enjoyable experience – I do enjoy giving back with my mentoring or work with CILIP NW, and to give back to new professionals was a nice change of pace but it was more ‘delivery of information’ than I expected – especially in week 1 when we had more activities planned.

In terms of the partnership working – I was happy being the passive partner (again a change of pace) but I am not sure I am the easiest person to work with – I contribute in bursts and can be quite hard to pin down between these (not through laziness, more through spreading myself to thin and trying to fit 12 hours work into 8!). I imagine this can be quite frustrating for equally busy people, who have a more regimented or prescribed workload.

Now What: I would love to speak to the students again next year if the module is still running. I am going to reflect on how I work with others (and my role within teams generally) and speak to my fellow presenters to get their opinions to ensure that I am being most effective in my approach to this.

When/Where: 2nd/9th October 2019, MMU Library School (room 201b GM Building)

Learning Log 144: Conversational Leadership Webinar

Date: 30th September 2019

Number: 144

Significant Experience: I watched the webinar on conversational leadership by David Gurteen via CILIP Leaders Network

What Happened? The webinar looked at the concept of ‘conversational leadership’ and was hosted by the legendary David Gurteen. For full details about conversational leadership check out his online book (he describes it as his blook) here: https://conversational-leadership.net/

The session covered the 5 main themes of the blook:

  • Embrace complexity thinking;
  • Take responsibility – in the changes you want to see happen;
  • Become a leader AKA Lead!;
  • Converse – focus on the smaller conversations – decisions don’t get made in the big meetings – they get finalised. They happen in corridors in smaller gatherings
  • Build a community – think about communityship

So What?: As my role develops even further away from an evidence or knowledge based role towards something that using these skills in a business organisation and development setting, I feel it is important that I focus on developing my leadership in settings where I do not have (perceived) expertise, cache or at least a high level of understanding from the outset. Whilst the fundamentals of conversational leadership are not new to me -having read a bit on it already, and knowing David’s seminal KM works, this webinar was very useful in helping align some of issues I face with my preferred style of leadership (*spoiler* its authentic…).

I am especially interested in the idea of ‘communityship’ – leaders across the community (whatever that may) aligned with traditional ‘actually I’m in charge’ leaders… which is quite the opposite of the classic rigid, siloed local authority approach. But it gives a name to what I see as an Utopian leadership approach if perhaps not always practical!

In the webinar, David asked us a question – ‘What strategic conversation should you be having right now that you are not having?’ and this is an interesting question – especially within such a political environment, as perhaps it  needs to be re-framed to say what conversation should you be having to enable the strategic conversation that you (or your proxy) should be having…

Now What:  

David discusses how this is a personal commitment not a HR/OD decision, so based on what I was discussed in this webinar, my prior understanding of conversational leadership and my belief in myself as an authentic leader, I am going to look at how we deliver journal clubs within the team and evolve them into something with a greater knowledge sharing approach – not just about evidence but with a focus on the tacit knowledge within the team and then the wider system. Changing this will give me a footing in familiar territory – KM & evidence, to help me build both a platform and confidence. This will build also build into the cross-system collaboration I see as part of the wider portfolio work which requires a whole ethos-shift.

When & Where: 30th September 2019