What I learnt from taking part in the #NatterOn Podcast

The way that we learn and consume information is constantly evolving. Dyfrig Williams reflects on what he learnt from taking part in the NatterOn podcast.

A copy of the NatterOn Podcast logo

For the last year or so I’ve been listening to podcasts to broaden my awareness of what’s happening in the world and to get a better understanding of how I can improve my work. The Podcast Addict app has been great in managing interesting podcasts because it brings a range of podcasts together into one feed.

Podcasts that I’ve found particularly helpful are:

I’d add the NatterOn podcast to that list too. It’s a podcast the looks at digital and marketing that’s put together by Helen Reynolds and Ben Proctor, who are two of the most switched on people I know. Helen gets how communications are being changed by social media more than anyone else I’ve ever met. And I’ve learnt so much about data from Ben. I particularly recommend his post on Data Maturity in local government, which has been the basis of my thinking on acquiring data with the Wales Audit Office’s Data and Tech Working Group.

So when they asked me to take part in the podcast, I jumped at the chance because I’d basically get an hour to pick their brains on interesting public service improvement topics.

So what did I learn?

Unsurprisingly, a lot. Helen shared a really interesting post on Unconscious Bias, which brings together many different types of bias into four main problems:

  • We aggressively filter information to avoid information overload.
  • Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps.
  • We need to act fast, so we jump to conclusions.
  • We’re working in complex environments so we focus on the important bits. Decisions inform our mental models of the world.

So what does this mean for public services? For me, it’s about awareness. If we take the time to actively reflect on these problems, then we can be more conscious of our bias as we interact with people and deliver services. We’ve already identified this as an issue at the Wales Audit Office, so we held an internal event to reflect on this. The Storify includes lots of useful resources, including Harvard’s Implicit Associations Test.

We also had a really good conversation about trust, PR and public services after Ben shared a post on the war on truth. Helen looked at the professions topping the Edelman Trust Barometer, which finds that people’s trust in government is generally a reflection of how content Britons are with their lot. This has big implications for how we interact with people from different socio-economic backgrounds.

As a project, we’ve undertaken work ourselves on looking at the importance of staff trust in public services. It’s interesting to take some of the lessons around staff trust and applying it in a wider context of working with communities:

  • Ability – have we shown that we are competent at doing our job?
  • Benevolence – do we have benign motives and a concern for others beyond our own needs?
  • Integrity – are we principled? Are we clearly acting in a fair and honest way?
  • Predictability – are people aware of what we’re likely to do?

After sharing a post on GCHQ’s Digital Approach, I also learnt from Ben that the analogy of frogs in boiling water is a complete lie.

What else did I share?

The Good Practice Exchange is also pondering how we can help public services develop their approaches to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. So I shared Chris Bolton’s post on Sustainable Decision Making and Simulation Games as it’s been useful in getting me to think differently about how we as a project might respond to the legislation in order to help services improve.

I’ve also been pondering about how we learn and develop in the workplace. In my ten years or so of working in public services, only three of the training courses I’ve attended have actually had any impact on my work. So how might we tie in our own learning and development with better organisations and improved public services? Carl Haggerty has written a great post on this.

Horses for courses

We have a slide that we use at our events that shows the many different that we share information – through our blog, social media, Randomised Coffee Trials, email and phone calls. We recognise that not everybody wants to receive information in the same form, and not everybody processes it the same way. One of the key principles of our work is that there isn’t a one size fits all approach for better services. Podcasts are another useful way of sharing learning and information, so it’s well worth having a listen to this and other podcasts to see whether they can help you improve your work and what you do.

Yr hyn a ddysgais o gymryd rhan ym mhodlediad #NatterOn

Mae’r ffordd ni’n dysgu a chymryd gwybodaeth i mewn yn datblygu drwy’r amser. Yn y blogbost isod mae Dyfrig Williams yn myfyrio ar beth y dysgodd trwy gymryd rhan ym mhodlediad NatterOn.

Copi o logo Podlediad NatterOn

Dros y flwyddyn neu ddwy ddiwethaf rydw i wedi bod yn gwrando ar bodlediadau i ehangu fy ymwybyddiaeth o’r hyn sy’n digwydd yn y byd ac i gael dealltwriaeth well o sut allai wella fy ngwaith. Mae’r app Podcast Addict wedi bod yn ffordd dda o reoli podlediadau ddiddorol gan ei fod yn dod â sawl podlediad at ei gilydd i mewn i un ffrwd.

Dyma rai Podlediadau rydw i wedi ffeindio’n ddefnyddiol:

Fe fyddwn i’n ychwanegu podlediad NatterOn i’r rhestr hefyd. Mae’n bodlediad ddigidol a marchnata sy’n cael ei rhoi at ei gilydd gan Helen Reynolds a Ben Proctor. Mae gan y ddau ohonynt feddylfryd hynod o flaengar. Mae Helen yn deall yn well na neb sut fydd cyfryngau cymdeithasol yn newid cyfathrebu. Ac rydw i wedi dysgu cymaint am ddata o Ben. Mae ei blogbost ar Aeddfedrwydd Data mewn llywodraeth leol yn arbennig, ac mae’r erthygl wedi bod yn sail i fy meddylfryd wrth i mi fynd i’r afael a data gyda Gweithgor Data a Thechnoleg Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru.

Felly pan wnaethon nhw ofyn i mi gymryd rhan yn y podlediad, dywedais ‘ie’ yn syth achos byddai’n rhoi’r cyfle i mi wneud y fwyaf o’u harbenigedd ar wella gwasanaethau cyhoeddus am awr.

Felly beth ddysgais i?

Fi’n siwr na fydd hyn yn syndod i unrhyw un, fe ddysgais i lot. Rhannodd Helen blogbost diddorol iawn ar Rhagfarn Anymwybodol, sy’n dod a nifer o wahanol fathau o ragfarn at ei gilydd i mewn i bedwar prif broblem:

  • Rydym yn hidlo gwybodaeth yn weithredol er mwyn osgoi gormodedd o wybodaeth.
  • Mae diffyg ystyr yn ein ddrysu, felly ni’n llenwi’r bylchau i mewn.
  • Rhaid i ni weithredu’n gyflym, felly ni’n neidio i gasgliadau.
  • Rydym yn gweithio mewn amgylcheddau cymhleth felly rydym yn canolbwyntio ar y darnau pwysig. Mae ein penderfyniadau yn llywio ein modelau meddyliol o’r byd.

Felly beth mae hyn yn golygu i wasanaethau cyhoeddus? I mi, mae’n ymwneud ag ymwybyddiaeth. Os ydym yn cymryd yr amser i fyfyrio’n weithredol ar y problemau yma, gallwn fod yn fwy ymwybodol o’n rhagfarn wrth i ni ryngweithio â phobl a darparu gwasanaethau. Rydym wedi nodi hwn fel mater pwysig yn Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, felly cynhaliom ddigwyddiad mewnol i fynd i’r afael a hyn. Mae’r Storify yn cynnwys lot o adnoddau defnyddiol, gan gynnwys Prawf Cysylltiadau Ymhlyg Harvard.

Cawsom sgwrs dda iawn ar ymddiriedaeth a beth mae hyn yn ei olygu o ran Cysylltiadau Cyhoeddus a gwasanaethau yn gyffredinol ar ôl i Ben rhannu blogbost ar y rhyfel ar wirionedd. Edrychodd Helen ar y swyddi sydd ar frig Baromedr Ymddiriedaeth Edelman, sy’n dangos bod ymddiriedaeth pobl yn y llywodraeth yn dibynnu ar ba mor fodlon maen nhw â’u byd. Mae gan hyn oblygiadau mawr i sut rydym yn rhyngweithio â phobl o gefndiroedd cymdeithasol-economaidd gwahanol.

Mae ein prosiect wedi gwneud gwaith ar bwysigrwydd ymddiriedaeth staff yng ngwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Mae’n ddiddorol i gymryd rhai o’r gwersi o’r gwaith yma a’i rhoi mewn cyd-destun ehangach o weithio a chymunedau:

  • Gallu – ydyn ni’n dangos ein bod ni’n gallu gwneud ein gwaith?
  • Haelioni – oes gennym gymhellion diniwed a phryder am eraill sydd tu hwnt i ein anghenion ein hunain?
  • Gonestrwydd – ydyn ni’n weithredu i’n egwyddorion? Ydych chi’n weithredu mewn modd deg ac onest?
  • Rhagweladwy – ydy pobl yn gwybod beth rydyn ni’n debyg o wneud?

Ac ar ôl i mi rannu blogbost ar Ddull Digidol GCHQ, dysgais hefyd bod y ddywediad am brogaod mewn dŵr berwedig yn celwydd a hanner!

Beth arall wnes i rannu?

Mae’r Gyfnewidfa Arfer Da hefyd yn meddwl am sut allwn ni helpu gwasanaethau cyhoeddus i ddatblygu eu hymagweddau at Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol. Felly rhannais blogbost Chris Bolton ar Gemau Efelychu a Gwneud Penderfyniadau Cynaliadwy gan ei fod wedi ysgogi mi i feddwl yn wahanol am sut rydyn ni’n helpu gwasanaethau i wella.

Rydw i hefyd wedi bod yn meddwl am rôl dysgu a datblygu yn y gweithle. Rydw i wedi bod yn gweithio i wasanaethau cyhoeddus am ddeng mlynedd neu fwy, a dim ond tri o’r cyrsiau hyfforddi sydd wedi cael effaith go iawn ar fy ngwaith. Felly ydy e’n bosib i ddolenni ein dysgu a datblygiad gyda gwelliant gwasanaethau cyhoeddus? Mae Carl Haggerty wedi ysgrifennu blogbost arbennig ar hyn.

Rhannu gwybodaeth mewn modd addas

Mae yna sleid rydym yn defnyddio yn ein digwyddiadau i ddangos y ffyrdd gwahanol rydym yn rhannu gwybodaeth – drwy ein blog, cyfryngau cymdeithasol, Treialon Coffi ar Hap, e-bost a dros y ffôn. Rydym yn cydnabod nad yw pawb eisiau derbyn gwybodaeth yn yr un modd, ac nid yw pawb yn prosesu’r wybodaeth yma yn yr un ffordd. Un o egwyddorion allweddol ein gwaith yw does yna ddim dull ‘un maint i bawb’ ar gyfer gwasanaethau gwell. Mae podlediadau yn un o sawl ffordd ddefnyddiol y gallwch dderbyn a rhannu gwybodaeth, felly mae’n werth gwrando ar y podlediad yma a phodlediadau eraill i weld os allan nhw eich helpu chi i wella’ch gwaith a beth chi’n gwneud.

Digital: It’s all about redesign, not business as usual

Our seminar on Redesigning public services: The strategic importance of digital wasn’t about digital tools, but a shift in mindset. But what does that mean in practice? Ena Lloyd reflects on what she learnt from the event.

I’ve been heavily involved in developing and delivering the recent seminar on Digital as part of the Good Practice Exchange at the Wales Audit Office. For us as an organisation, digital transformation is a key strategic objective and priority, as well as a massive contributor to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

As part of the planning element of the seminar, we conducted a wide literature review via commercial and academic routes as well as a wide variety of social media, talked to people with serious ‘Digital knowhow’ in the private, public sector and third sectors and the academic world so that we can get a good handle on what we needed to focus on in this seminar. This seminar was the first in a series of events to support public service transformation. I would honestly say it was a pivotal seminar for me. Why? Because I thought it would have been reasonable to expect that technology would figure hugely in the conversations in plenary and the workshops. In reality, it didn’t. So what did?

It might be helpful to have a listen to a 90 second video clip of Cllr Barry Parsons and Carl Haggerty of Devon County Council. They share the key messages and the word technology doesn’t figure once!

So what is the starting point?

It became clear from the seminar that digitising public services does not mean moving a service ‘like for like’ on to a digital platform. What would be the point in that? We need to explore how we can do things better with service users. We need to talk to them, as well as similar service deliverers that are potentially complimentary. I think it’s safe to say that public services cannot financially afford to deliver services in their current format. So figuring out quickly whether a potential redesign does actually have legs is essential.

Besides the importance of time or working at pace as I would prefer to think of it, I also learnt that when it comes to redesign:

  • Small is beautiful, so start small. Even if it doesn’t you can learn the lessons. We simply cannot wait for massive projects to come to fruition
  • Failing fast is a good thing. We must move with speed and pace for timely innovation
  • Make sure you have nailed your proof of concept. In other words, clearly define issues to make sure we’ve got things right at the start; and
  • Most importantly with your redesign – proceed until apprehended

Y Lab’s workshop helps to demonstrate these points. In the workshop Jess Hoare, Amy Richards and Rob Ashelford talked about a number of examples of small innovative projects that worked at pace and have been able to demonstrate viability in a very short space of time. I particularly liked the example of what’s taking place at Cardiff Council. Through the Digital Innovation Fund for Wales, Y Lab worked with 5 organisations on various digital transformation projects. At Cardiff Council, the project is trialling Internet of Things technology to support public services. Sensors will be deployed at various sites in the city to provide data on water levels in culverts. This real-time information can be used to inform the prediction and prevention of flooding in Cardiff. Learning from this project, and the hardware and network infrastructure provided through the grant, has the potential to enable sensor data to enhance other services across the city.

LoRaWAN is designed to provide Low Power Wide Area Network with features specifically needed to support low-cost, mobile, secure bi-directional communication for Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M), and smart city, and industrial applications. It is optimized for low power consumption and to support large networks with millions and millions of devices. It has innovative a number of features, namely these are its low-cost, low-power model (it can even run on energy harvesting technologies) which enables the uptake and ease of use of the Internet of Things.

LoRaWan is an exciting emerging technology. At the time of writing, this would be the first network of its kind in Wales and one of only a handful in the UK. Given this, Y Lab has been approached by a number of organisations interested in working with Cardiff Council on possible network applications.

What does service transformation mean from an audit office perspective?

The bottom line is that technology can and does offer a range of potential cost savings, increases in efficiency and improvements in the quality of services offered to users. The Auditor General has said on many occasions about the need to take well managed risks. We just need to ensure there are opportunities for staff to take such chances on new approaches and technology. The Auditor General for Wales has talked on many occasions about the importance of taking those opportunities. As he says in the below video, we must innovate and adapt to new ways of working in order to provide effective public services.

Finally, I think it would be remiss of me not to make the connection between the redesign of services and the introduction of the Well-being of the Future Generations Act. At the seminar Huw Vaughan Thomas said that digital thinking and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act are not competing priorities. This was really helpful and it brought it home to me when he talked about the Act’s five ways of working, in particular:

  • How the principles of integration and collaboration will prompt services to ponder how digital thinking can help services to work together. As organisations are required to come together under the umbrella of Public Service Boards, should each service be using incompatible systems?
  • The long term and prevention principles should allow organisations to consider how platforms can be reused and shared in order to avoid reinventing the wheel and provide better value for public money
  • And the principle of involvement should focus organisations on how they can ensure that services are person centred – how they meet user need………………. And isn’t that what public services should be about?

Digidol: Mae’n ymwneud ag ailgynllunio, nid busnes fel arfer

Nid oedd ein seminar Ailgynllunio gwasanaethau cyhoeddus: Pwysigrwydd strategol llwyfannau digidol yn ymwneud ag adnoddau digidol, ond newid mewn meddylfryd. Ond beth y mae’n ei olygu yn ymarferol? Mae Ena Lloyd yn myfyrio ar yr hyn a ddysgodd o’r digwyddiad.

Rwyf wedi chwarae rhan bwysig yn y gwaith o ddatblygu a chyflwyno seminar diweddar ar Ddigidol fel rhan o Gyfnewidfa Arfer Da Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru. I ni fel sefydliad, mae trawsnewid digidol yn amcan strategol allweddol ac yn flaenoriaeth, yn ogystal â bod yn gyfraniad enfawr at Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol.

Fel rhan o elfen gynllunio’r seminar, gwnaethom gynnal adolygiad eang o lenyddiaeth drwy lwybrau academaidd a masnachol yn ogystal ag amrywiaeth eang o gyfryngau cymdeithasol. Buom yn siarad â phobl â llawer o wybodaeth Ddigidol arbennig yn y sector preifat, y sector cyhoeddus, y trydydd sector a’r byd academaidd er mwyn i ni gael dealltwriaeth dda o’r hyn yr oedd angen i ni ganolbwyntio arno yn y seminar hwn. Y seminar hwn oedd y cyntaf mewn cyfres o ddigwyddiadau i gefnogi trawsnewid gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Gallaf ddweud â’m llaw ar fy nghalon ei fod yn seminar tyngedfennol i mi. Pam? Oherwydd roeddwn i’n credu y byddai’n rhesymol disgwyl y byddai technoleg yn bwnc mynych mewn sgyrsiau yn y sesiwn llawn a’r gweithdai. Ond nid ddigwyddodd. Felly beth gododd?

Gallai fod yn ddefnyddiol gwrando ar glip fideo 90 eiliad o’r Cynghorydd Barry Parsons a Carl Haggerty o Gyngor Sir Dyfnaint. Maent yn rhannu’r negeseuon allweddol ac nid yw’r gair technoleg yn codi unwaith!

Felly, beth yw’r man cychwyn?

Daeth yn amlwg o’r seminar nad yw digideiddio gwasanaethau cyhoeddus yn golygu symud gwasanaeth ‘tebyg am ei debyg’ ar lwyfan ddigidol. Beth fyddai diben hynny? Mae angen i ni edrych ar y ffordd y gallwn wneud pethau’n well gyda defnyddwyr gwasanaethau. Mae angen i ni siarad â nhw, yn ogystal â darparwyr gwasanaeth tebyg a allai ategu ei gilydd. Credaf ei bod yn ddiogel dweud na all gwasanaethau cyhoeddus yn ariannol, fforddio darparu gwasanaethau yn eu fformat presennol. Felly mae darganfod yn gyflym pa ailgynllunio sy’n debygol o weithio yn hanfodol.

Yn ogystal â phwysigrwydd amser neu weithio’n gyflym fel y mae’n well gen i feddwl amdano, dysgais hefyd fod y canlynol yn wir pan ddaw i ailgynllunio:

  • Tlws pob peth bychan, felly dechreuwch ar raddfa fach. Hyd yn oed os nad yw’n digwydd, gallwch ddysgu gwersi. Ni allwn aros nes y bydd prosiectau anferth yn dwyn ffrwyth
  • Mae methu’n gyflym yn beth da. Rhaid i ni symud yn gyflym ar gyfer arloesedd amserol
  • Gwnewch yn siŵr fod eich prawf o gysyniad yn gadarn. Mewn geiriau eraill, diffiniwch faterion yn glir er mwyn gwneud yn siŵr ein bod wedi cael popeth yn iawn o’r dechrau’n deg; ac
  • Yn bennaf, gyda’r ailgynllunio – parhewch nes y cewch eich atal

Mae gweithdy Y Lab yn helpu i ddangos y pwyntiau hyn. Yn y gweithdy siaradodd Jess Hoare, Amy Richards a Rob Ashelford am nifer o enghreifftiau o brosiectau bach arloesol a weithiodd yn gyflym ac sydd wedi gallu dangos hyfywedd mewn cyfnod byr iawn o amser. Roeddwn yn hoffi’r enghraifft o’r hyn sy’n digwydd yng Nghyngor Caerdydd. Drwy Gronfa Arloesedd Digidol Cymru, gweithiodd Y Lab gyda phum sefydliad ar brosiectau trawsnewid amrywiol. Yng Nghyngor Caerdydd, mae’r prosiect yn treialu technoleg Rhyngrwyd Pethau (‘Internet of Things’) i gefnogi gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Caiff synwyryddion eu defnyddio mewn gwahanol safleoedd yn y ddinas i ddarparu data ar lefelau dŵr mewn ceuffosydd. Gellir defnyddio’r wybodaeth amser real hon i lywio’r gwaith o ragfynegi ac atal llifogydd yng Nghaerdydd. Drwy ddysgu o’r prosiect hwn, a’r caledwedd a’r seilwaith rhwydwaith a ddarparwyd drwy’r grant, mae iddo’r potensial i alluogi data synwyryddion i wella gwasanaethau eraill ledled y ddinas.

Mae LoRaWAN wedi’i gynllunio i ddarparu Rhwydwaith Ardal Eang Pŵer Isel gyda nodweddion sydd eu hangen yn benodol ar gyfer cynorthwyo cyfathrebu deugyfeiriadol diogel, cost isel, symudol ar gyfer cymwysiadau Rhwydwaith Popeth, peiriant i beiriant (‘machine-to-machine’), dinas glyfar a chymwysiadau diwydiannol. Caiff ei optimeiddio ar gyfer defnydd pŵer isel ac i gefnogi rhwydweithiau mawr gyda miliynau o ddyfeisiadau. Mae ganddo nifer o nodweddion arloesol, sef yn bennaf ei fodel cost isel, pŵer isel (gall hyd yn oed redeg ar dechnolegau cynhaeafu ynni) sy’n caniatáu defnyddio Rhyngrwyd Popeth yn hawdd.

Mae LoRaWAN yn dechnoleg newydd gyffrous. Ar adeg ysgrifennu, dyma fyddai’r rhwydwaith cyntaf o’i fath yng Nghymru ac ymysg dim ond llond llaw yn y DU. O’r herwydd, mae nifer o sefydliadau wedi cysylltu â’r Lab gyda diddordeb mewn cydweithio â Chyngor Caerdydd ar gymwysiadau rhwydwaith posibl.

Beth mae trawsnewid gwasanaeth yn ei olygu o safbwynt swyddfa archwilio?
Gall technoleg ac mae technoleg yn cynnig amrywiaeth o arbedion cost, cynnydd mewn effeithlonrwydd a gwelliannau o ran ansawdd gwasanaethau a gynnigir i ddefnyddwyr. Mae’r Archwilydd Cyffredinol wedi dweud ar sawl achlysur bod angen cymryd risgiau sydd wedi’u reoli’n dda. Mae angen i ni sicrhau bod cyfleoedd i staff fentro gyda thechnoleg newydd a dulliau newydd o weithredu . Mae Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru wedi nodi pwysigrwydd manteisio ar y cyfleoedd hyn ar sawl achlysur. Fel y dywed yn y fideo isod, mae’n rhaid i ni fod yn arloesol a mabwysiadu ffyrdd newydd o weithio er mwyn darparu gwasanaethau cyhoeddus effeithiol.

Yn olaf, credaf y byddai’n esgeulus ohonof petawn i ddim yn gwneud y cysylltiad rhwng ailgynllunio gwasanaethau a chyflwyno Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol. Yn y seminar dywedodd Huw Vaughan Thomas nad oedd meddwl yn ddigidol a Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn flaenoriaethau sy’n gwrthdaro. Roedd hyn yn ddefnyddiol iawn a gwnaeth i mi sylweddoli hyn pan siaradodd am bum ffordd y Deddf o weithio, yn benodol:

  • Sut y bydd egwyddorion integreiddio a chydweithredu yn sbarduno gwasanaethau i ystyried ym mha ffordd y gall meddwl yn ddigidol helpu gwasanaethau i gydweithio. Wrth iddi ddod yn ofynnol i sefydliadau ddod ynghyd o dan ymbarél Byrddau Gwasanaeth Cyhoeddus, a ddylai pob gwasanaeth fod yn defnyddio systemau anghydnaws?
  • Dylai’r egwyddorion hirdymor ac ataliol alluogi sefydliadau i ystyried ym mha ffordd y gellir ailddefnyddio a rhannu llwyfannau er mwyn osgoi ailddyfeisio’r olwyn a sicrhau gwell gwerth am arian cyhoeddus
  • A dylai’r egwyddor o gymryd rhan wneud i sefydliadau ganolbwyntio ar sut y ffordd y gallant sicrhau bod gwasanaethau yn canolbwyntio ar yr unigolyn – sut maent yn diwallu anghenion defnyddwyr………………. Ac onid hynny yw diben gwasanaethau cyhoeddus?

How Gwynedd Council is using Systems Thinking

Gwynedd Council has been looking at how they can provide more effective services. Dyfrig Williams spoke with Dilwyn Williams, Chief Executive of the Council to see what we can learn from this work.

A Photo of Dilwyn Williams

Dilwyn Williams, Chief Executive of Gwynedd Council

Dilwyn Williams and Gwynedd Council first became aware of Systems Thinking at the Welsh Local Government Association conference a few years ago. The method is used to focus the organisational mind on what’s important for residents and how to get rid of systemic barriers that prevent staff (often consciously) from providing a better service. The approach also seeks to change the command and control mindset in order to equip the organisation with a better approach to how it designs and manages work. They decided to hold seminars on the method for members and officers, and this led to the council undertaking work on applying the method to its systems dealing with homelessness and buildings maintenance.

These seminars asked some really tough questions about the way that Gwynedd Council provides services:

  • Are the services really focused on the needs of citizens?
  • How can can we overcome some of the difficulties that stop the organisation from performing to the highest possible level, such as work arrangements and a historical overemphasis on risk and budgets?

Staff are asked to always consider ‘What’s important to the people of Gwynedd?’ and now the council’s performance is measured against this instead of traditional outcomes. In the past, when service users gave the Council’s services a score, the Council has used the average score of 7 to 8 as proof of good performance. Now the score is used as an indication of the relative level of performance. Everyone is asked to consider the reason why that score isn’t 10, and if there is something that they can do about that. This means that a change in culture and mindset is required, as performance management moves away from being a process of comparing numbers to be a system of looking for improvement opportunities. As Dilwyn said, ‘The why is important – why not 10? This is an opportunity to improve.’

Pilot projects

The maintenance project was successful, which has resulted in the council using different performance measures. It became clear from the preparatory work that the most important measures for service users were around the speed of the work and the satisfaction with how that work was done. The level of satisfaction gives a clear opportunity for improvement by asking ‘Why is it not 10?’

At the same time as improving the service, the Council also saved money as it stopped sending inspectors to identify the work that needed to be done. Now contractors are told to go and do the work on the basis of a relationship of trust, and if the contractors betray that trust, there are obviously consequences to that.

The homelessness project did not work as well, not because of the efforts of the teams involved, but because of a failure of leadership. But the Council learnt a lot more about what didn’t work through that and it highlighted the importance of good leadership.

How the learning was put into practice

The Ffordd Gwynedd (Gwynedd Way) Strategy grew out of the two pilot projects, taking what the Council has learnt from the Vanguard experience and implementing it in the context of the local culture. Ffordd Gwynedd is now on the monthly agenda of every Heads of Service meeting, since it’s vital that the Senior Leadership take ownership of the strategy. Now when interventions take place, the work starts with the Head of Service and a briefing session is held with the leader of the work.

The strategy requires that intensive work is undertaken with managers, as many of them have been working for the council for such a long time that they have been immersed in the organisation’s traditional culture and management techniques that have been derived from the production world. Some managers may have been working for 20 years with the same mentality, often on the basis of what was seen in traditional management books, but the world has moved on. A self-learning and discussion group was started to look at team characteristics for Ffordd Gwynedd. In the future the organisation intends to look at whether the teams demonstrate each characteristic and whether they’re clear about their purpose. The Vanguard Systems Thinking Mantra is used, which is purpose, measures and approach. It’s critical to measure what’s important, and the council is working through this at the moment to create a different culture.

The intention is to create an “expert” in the culture in each service, and each service is asked to put a manager forward for intense training to lead the challenge work. There is an element of continuity planning here, which gives people the opportunity to gain experience in order to lead the work in the future, as managers work three days a week on Ffordd Gwynedd and 2 days a week back in the service so that their experience feeds into the work.

Staff are asked to consider what they do to put people at the heart of services. Do they have an opportunity to discuss this in their team meetings? Some people may feel that it’s the manager’s role to improve services and that their role is to follow what the manager is saying. The Ffordd Gwynedd Strategy stresses that if a person knows about a barrier that is preventing the people of Gwynedd from receiving effective services, then they have a duty to everyone to do something about it. The Council is demonstrating to staff that it is challenging how services are delivered, and for this to be effective it is important that there is no culture of blame – people need to take the opportunity to change how they work and to put that culture into practice. Experimenting with new service arrangements can result in failure, but it’s only through experimenting that there is real innovation. Dilwyn also explained that learning from complaints goes hand in hand with this and that it can be used as a way to learn from failure.

Lessons learned

One of the learning points that Dilwyn shared was that if you start the work with a mentality of saving money, you’re not really able to put people first and redesign services effectively. The financial side cannot be ignored, but by considering how the council can meet people’s needs first and then looking at financial considerations, the service can very often meet those needs, and it’s often cheaper.

Dilwyn said that following a process can make staff feel safer, especially if something goes wrong, because they were following a process that was set by someone else. So it’s essential that staff are empowered so that they can make people central to their services.

Dilwyn also said that it’s important that the people at the top of the organisation think in terms of systems so that it is strategically consistent across the organisation. Some members are eager to move quickly because they see positive results from the work, but it is important to remember that the work is about trying to change the culture, and this does not happen overnight. Also the strategy must be kept simple – the simpler the strategy, the easier it is for staff to understand and the closer it can be to reality. The more complex the strategy, the more difficult it is to implement it in the way that you intended.

Gwynedd Council is now holding a series of events with staff to hear the views of staff about the difference the work has made. How does their work now compare to what they were doing a year and a half ago? We look forward to hearing more so we can share the learning.

Sut mae Cyngor Gwynedd yn meddwl ar ffurf systemau

Mae Cyngor Gwynedd wedi bod yn edrych ar sut allai ddarparu gwasanaethau mwy effeithiol. Siaradodd Dyfrig Williams â Dilwyn Williams, Prif Weithredwr y Cyngor i weld beth allwn ddysgu o’r gwaith yma.

Ffotograff o Dilwyn Williams

Dilwyn Williams, Prif Weithredwr Cyngor Gwynedd

Cyflwynwyd dull meddwl ar ffurf systemau i Dilwyn Williams a Chyngor Gwynedd yng nghynhadledd Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru rai blynyddoedd yn ôl. Mae’r dull yn cael ei ddefnyddio gan sefydliadau gwasanaeth i ganolbwyntio’r meddwl sefydliadol ar beth sy’n bwysig i drigolion a sut allwn gael gwared a rhwystrau systemig sy’n atal staff (sydd yn aml yn gydwybodol) rhag cyflawni hynny. Mae’r dull hefyd yn ceisio newid meddylfryd gorchymyn a rheoli i ddull arfogi wrth ddylunio a rheoli gwaith. Penderfynwyd cynnal seminarau ar y dull i aelodau a swyddogion, ac arweiniodd hyn at wneud gwaith penodol ar ddigartrefedd a chynnal a chadw adeiladau.

Fe wnaeth y seminarau yma gofyn cwestiynau caled am y ffordd roedd Cyngor Gwynedd yn darparu gwasanaethau:

  • Ydy’r gwasanaethau’n wir ffocysu ar anghenion dinasyddion?
  • Sut ellir goresgyn rhai o’r anawsterau sy’n meddwl nad yw’r sefydliad yn gallu perfformio i’r eithaf, megis trefniadau gwaith hanesyddol a gorbwyslais ar risg a chyllidebau?

Gofynnir i staff ystyried bob tro ‘Beth sy’n bwysig i bobl Gwynedd?’ a phenderfynwyd mesur hynny yn hytrach na’r canlyniadau traddodiadol. Wrth ofyn i ddefnyddwyr gwasanaethau sgorio gwasanaeth y gorffennol bu’r Cyngor yn defnyddio’r ffaith fod y cyfartaledd sgôr yn symud o 7 i 8 yn brawf o berfformiad da ond bellach tra bod y sgôr yn rhoi syniad o lefel gymharol o berfformiad, y cwestiwn pam nad yw’n 10 yw’r cwestiwn sylfaenol y gofynnir i bawb ystyried ac a yw’r rheswm hwnnw yn rhywbeth y gallwn wneud rhywbeth amdano. Mae hyn yn gorfodi newid mewn diwylliant a meddylfryd newydd, drwy symud o weld rheoli perfformiad yn llai o broses cymharu rhifau i fod yn fwy o gyfundrefn edrych am gyfleoedd gwella. Fel dywedodd Dilwyn, ‘Y pam sy’n bwysig – pam dim 10? Dyma’r cyfle i wella.’

Prosiectau peilot

Fe lwyddodd y prosiect cynnal a chadw, ac mae nawr ganddynt fesurau gwahanol nag o’r blaen. Daeth yn glir o’r gwaith paratoadol mai’r mesurau pwysig i ddefnyddwyr y gwasanaeth oedd cyflymder gwneud y gwaith a bodlonrwydd gyda’r gwaith a sut y gwnaethpwyd ef. Mae’r lefel o fodlonrwydd yn cynnig cyfle clir am welliant trwy ofyn y cwestiwn ‘Pam nad yw’n 10?’

Ar yr un pryd a gwella’r gwasanaeth, arweiniodd hyn i’r Cyngor safio arian trwy stopio anfon arolygwyr allan i edrych a nodi beth oedd angen ei wneud. Nawr dywedir wrth gontractwyr i fynd yno a thrwsio beth sydd angen ei wneud ar sail perthynas o ymddiried, ac os yw’r contractwyr yn bradychu’r ymddiriedaeth yna, yna’n amlwg mae yna oblygiadau i hynny.

Ni wnaeth y prosiect digartrefedd gweithio cystal efallai, ond nid oherwydd ymdrechion y timau fu’n ymwneud ag ef ond yn fwy efallai oherwydd methiant arweinyddiaeth. Ond fe ddysgodd y Cyngor lot mwy o beth wnaeth ddim gweithio drwy hynny ac amlygwyd pwysigrwydd arweinyddiaeth dda.

Sut rhoddwyd y dysgu ar waith

Deilliodd Strategaeth Ffordd Gwynedd o’r 2 prosiect peilot, sy’n cymryd beth ddysgodd y Cyngor o brofiad Vanguard a’i roi ar waith yng nghyd-destun y diwylliant lleol. Mae Ffordd Gwynedd yn ymddangos ar agenda cyfarfod y Penaethiaid Gwasanaeth pob mis, gan fod perchnogaeth Uwch Arweinyddiaeth yn hollbwysig. Nawr pan mae ymyraethau yn cymryd lle, mae’r gwaith yn dechrau gyda’r pennaeth ac mae sesiwn briffio yn cael ei chynnal gydag arweinydd y gwaith.

Mae gwaith dwys yn cymryd lle gyda rheolwyr, gan fod nifer ohonynt wedi bod yn gweithio i’r cyngor am amser maith ac wedi eu trwytho mewn diwylliant traddodiadol a’r technegau rheoli sydd wedi dod o’r byd cynhyrchu. Efallai bod rhai wedi bod yn gweithio gyda’r un meddylfryd am 20 mlynedd y aml ar sail yr hyn a welir mewn llyfrau rheoli traddodiadol, ond mae’r byd wedi symud ymlaen. Dechreuwyd grŵp hunan-ddysgu a thrafod i edrych ar nodweddion tîm ar gyfer Ffordd Gwynedd. Yna ar gyfer y dyfodol bwriedir edrych i weld os yw timau’n dangos pob elfen ac os ydyn nhw’n glir am eu pwrpas. Defnyddir mantra meddwl ar ffurf systemau Vanguard, sef pwrpas, mesurau a dull. Rhaid mesur beth sy’n bwysig ac mae’r sefydliad yn gweithio trwyddo hyn ar y foment er mwyn creu diwylliant gwahanol.

Y bwriad yw creu “arbenigwyr” yn y diwylliant ym mhob gwasanaeth ac maent yn gofyn i wasanaethau roi rheolwr ymlaen i’w hyfforddi’n ddyfnach i arwain y gwaith o herio. Mae yna elfen o gynllunio parhad yma, sy’n rhoi’r cyfle i bobl i ennill profiad er mwyn arwain y gwaith yn y dyfodol, gan fod Rheolwyr yn gweithio 3 dydd yr wythnos ar Ffordd Gwynedd a 2 dydd yn ôl yn y gwasanaeth fel bod y profiad hynny yn bwydo i mewn iddo.

O ran staff, gofynnir iddynt ystyried beth maen nhw’n gwneud i roi pobl wrth wraidd gwasanaethau. Oes ganddynt gyfle i drafod hyn yn ei gyfarfodydd tîm? Mae rhai yn teimlo mai lle’r rheolwr efallai yw gwella gwasanaethau a’i rôl nhw yw dilyn yr hyn y mae’r rheolwr yn ei ddweud. Mae Strategaeth Ffordd Gwynedd yn pwysleisio os oes unigolyn yn gwybod am rwystr i gyflawni i bobl Gwynedd yna mae yna ddyletswydd ar bawb i wneud rhywbeth amdano. Mae’r Cyngor yn dangos bod nhw’n herio sut mae gwasanaethau yn cael ei darparu, ac wrth wneud hynny mae’n bwysig does yna ddim diwylliant o fai, gan fod angen i bobl cymryd y cyfle i newid sut maen nhw’n gweithio a rhoi’r diwylliant ar waith. Mae arbrofi gyda threfniadau newydd yn gallu golygu methiant ond dim ond drwy wneud hynny y ceir arloesedd go iawn. Law yn llaw a hyn, gellir dysgu o gwynion a’i defnyddio fel ffordd o ddysgu o fethiant.

Gwersi a ddysgwyd

Un o’r pwyntiau dysgu rhannodd Dilwyn oedd os ydych chi’n dechrau’r gwaith gyda’r meddylfryd o arbed arian, nid ydych chi’n wir yn gallu rhoi pobl yn gyntaf ac ail-ddylunio gwasanaethau er eu budd nhw. Wrth gwrs fedrwch chi ddim anwybyddu’r ochr ariannol ond drwy roi ystyried sut allwch cwrdd ag anghenion bobl yn iawn yn gyntaf a gosod ystyriaethau ariannol dros hynny wedyn, yn aml iawn gellir cwrdd ag anghenion – yn aml yn rhatach.

Hefyd dywedodd Dilwyn fod dilyn proses yn gallu bod yn saffach i unigolion yn enwedig os aiff rhywbeth o’i le gan mai dilyn proses a osodwyd gan rywun arall oeddent. Felly mae’n angenrheidiol i rymuso pobl fel bod nhw’n gallu gwneud pobl yn ganolog i wasanaethau.

Dywedodd Dilwyn fod rhaid i’r bobl ar frig y mudiad meddwl ar ffurf systemau fel bod y ffordd o feddwl yn un strategol sy’n gyson ar draws y mudiad. Mae rhai aelodau yn awyddus i symud yn gyflym achos maen nhw’n gweld canlyniadau positif o’r gwaith, ond mae’n bwysig i gofio bod y gwaith yn ceisio newid diwylliant, ac nid yw hyn yn digwydd dros nos. Hefyd rhaid cadw’r strategaeth yn syml – y mwyaf syml yw’r strategaeth, y mwyaf dealladwy yw i’r holl staff ac agos i’w realiti. Po fwyaf cymhleth yw’r strategaeth, y mwyaf anodd ydyw i’w rhoi ar waith yn y modd a fwriadwyd.

Mae Cyngor Gwynedd nawr yn cynnal cyfres o ddigwyddiadau gyda staff i glywed barn staff am y gwahaniaeth mae’r gwaith wedi gwneud. Sut mae eu gwaith nhw’n cymharu nawr a ble oedden nhw flwyddyn a hanner yn ôl? Rydyn ni’n edrych ymlaen at glywed mwy fel bod ni’n gallu rhannu’r dysgu.

Getting to Grips with Digital Service Design

Amy Richards leading Y Lab's workshop in Llanrwst

Amy Richards leading Y Lab’s workshop in Llanrwst

How might public services begin to digitally design their services? Jess Hoare and Amy Richards from Y Lab look at the key things to think about when you’re starting off on your Digital Service Design journey.

A few weeks ago the Wales Audit Office invited Y Lab to run a workshop at their Digital Seminars. These seminars were lively events with some really great questions coming up during the panel session. Here’s one of the meaty ones:

What are the key areas of focus for any organisation looking to redesign services?

We thought it might be useful to reflect on the discussion that followed this question and offer some practical advice. Through the work of the Digital Innovation Fund, we’ve concentrated on addressing three main areas: skills, culture, and tools.

Each of those categories relates to broader themes of skills, culture and tools. To keep this succinct, we’ve summarised some of the key points raised in our workshops:

Skills

  • Get to grips with the basics of service design. Always, always start with user needs. A lot has been written on how to go about this. As a starting point, I would recommend taking a look at some of the brilliant resources shared by Government Digital Service.
  • If you want to enable digital service design be brutally honest about who is best qualified within your organisation to lead that. Who’s good at UX? Who’s interested in doing more user research? Who has more recently mapped the services your organisation offers? Get them in a room together.
  • You need to be able to build agile interdisciplinary teams that can work iteratively. That doesn’t happen overnight but it is important to start with a team that knows what they are working towards.

Culture

  • Don’t just recruit talented people, develop those already with you;
  • be clear about career advancement, company culture, and training/development opportunities;
  • allow ideas to be challenged and championed;
  • ensure your leadership is committed to cultural change and supports risk.

Tools

A photo of Jess Hoare taking part in the panel discussion in Cardiff

Jess Hoare taking part in the panel discussion in Cardiff

Y Lab’s Innovation Process has been created to help organisations solve challenges using design methods. The process has been split into three steps: Explore, Generate and Evaluate. The basis of our process is if you understand the problem better, you have a better understanding of the user needs, reduce the risk of failure and have a more efficient and effective solution.

Explore comprises of questions that help you fully understand the problem, get a clearer picture of what it is you need to solve and ask yourselves some crucial questions about the resources you need and how you might measure the project’s success.

It is at this point in the process where assumptions about the needs of the user are made and this is where user research steps in. It’s much better to admit not knowing everything than to start making assumptions about what the user needs, and getting it wrong. Our user research tools will enable you to add further detail before you begin to think about solutions. Journey mapping and user personas can add valuable insight.

Generating Ideas…

You’ve got a better understanding of the problem and user needs, written a brief (without realising it) so now it’s on to the fun part. Our generate section is exactly how it sounds, we encourage you to sit down as a team and start coming up with ideas constantly reflecting on your findings from ‘Explore’ to ensure that your solutions are relevant and which ones you should take to the next stage and start prototyping.

Evaluate (through prototyping and testing)

Prototyping seems to be the part most people are scared of, it’s the part of our process where ideas are really put to the test and where flaws can be uncovered. Service blueprints, storyboarding and paper prototyping are invaluable and can be put in front of users, tested and refined to reduce the risk of failure in the long run. It’s much better to fail now, and not fail when you’ve made that big ‘investment’. Evaluate your ideas and solutions against your findings in the ‘Explore’ section, is this really the best possible solution? If not, throw it away and start again, you can’t make a bad idea good.

Final thoughts…

The business of innovation can be messy, is tricky and is often fraught with challenges to be overcome. The work put in by those we worked with through the Digital Innovation Fund was considerable. There was a great appetite and enthusiasm for responding to challenges practically through a structured innovation method and cross-sector collaboration. In the most successful cases, we can see how involvement with the Digital Innovation Fund has had a wider impact across the organisation, bringing in new ways of working and opening up conversations around the potential for digital forms of innovation.

The pertinence of working in this way has infused the ideas, workshops, and conversations that have taken place since we begun our work on the Digital Innovation Fund. This appetite and enthusiasm for new methods of approaching challenges was certainly echoed at the workshops we ran with Wales Audit Office and we’re looking forward to the next seminars in the series.