Reflections: First 6 months at KGH

I had the privilege of working with the super talented Matt Edgar whilst I was at NHS Digital. One thing that impressed me was his dedication to regularly review and improve himself and his teams. I noted that he blogged openly about his first 6, 12, 18 and 24 months at NHS Digital. Challenged and encouraged by Matt’s example, here’s my stab at reflecting on my first 6 months as Chief Digital Information Officer at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Quoting Matt: These thoughts may not all reflect the opinions, strategies or positions of my employer — but I’m working on that :)

Leeds Canal with mirror-like water

What has gone well?

  1. I’ve survived. At times over the first 3 or 4 months in particular, it was little more than that. There were so many things requiring my attention and needing extensive analysis that my head was spinning. About a decade ago I took on a new job that was very much out of my comfort zone. I learnt through that process, that the feeling of uncertainty eventually passes. That period of transition in my two subsequent job changes seemed to pass by fairly swiftly, but in the move to this role, it felt a long time coming. I’m only just feeling I’ve come out of the other side now. I’ve got some thoughts why that is, but that’s probably best left in my head for now.

What have I struggled with?

  1. Finding my resilience has a limit. I’ve been used to driving my professional life pretty hard, but there were times when I wondered if I was good enough for this role.

What have I discovered about myself?

  1. Preparation only got me so far. Coming into the job, I did more preparation than for any other job previously. I arranged to meet people already in post, talked to suppliers and read at lot — here’s the list:
Cover of The First 90 days book

So despite arriving with a draft 90 day plan, complete with day 1, week 1 and month 1 outcomes, that all changed dramatically when it came in touch with reality. That’s ok, and I adapted it as I went on. I just expected to feel a bit more of the benefit of this preparation. One regrettable thing I failed to get a grip of until a few months in was my true budget situation and the route on how to secure additional funding. I’d made some assumptions which turned out not to be the case, so needed to do some adjustment and learn how the business case process worked in a hurry. That sort of thing wasn’t in the 90 days or other books, so there must be an assumption that *normal* people would make that one of their key actions in the early days. Note to my future self — as well as all the culture stuff in 90 days, there a number of practical things that you need to know:

  • What are the steps for a procurement? What approval steps are there? Who can raise a requisition? Are people familiar with G-Cloud? Is there a stock template that references the requirements for NHS Tech Strategy alignment for inclusion in invitations to tender?

2. I’m a Doer. Not so much as a discovery, more of a confirmation. As a team we completed Belbin and Hogan assessments. Belbin has me as an Implementer/Specialist and Hogan shows me high on Diligence and Duty. We shared the outcomes of those assessments within the exec team and it has really helped with understanding each other and for me to find my place.

3. I *really* hate driving to work. I live about 80 miles from work, so get the train most days, but there are odd days when meeting arrangements or Exec Team bike rides means I need to drive. I’ve found I get grumpy when I don’t have my train journey, as I find it so essential to use the time on the way prepare for the day and finish the day well on the way home. It gives me about 2.5 hours interrupted time each day and when I don’t have that journey, I find I spend the whole day feeling like I’m catching up.

What are thing things I have appreciated?

  1. The support of my family and friends. Several people have said encouraging things to me at the right time. I particularly remember a conversation with Ian Thomas that came at just the right time. I’ve also appreciated growing connections with my new colleagues who have become my allies and friends.

What will I work on over the next 6 months?

Beyond my agreed objectives, there are things I want to look back on in 6 months and feel I’ve made progress:

  • To have influenced more across the Trust and beyond just technology

Husband. Dad to 3 smashing lads. Cub Leader. MAMIL. Group CDIO for Northampton and Kettering Hospitals. Ex NHS Digital. Views own. Always learning.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store