Information Governance Business Consultant,
Essex County Council
The Whole Essex Information Sharing Framework (WEISF) second annual conference occurred on Wednesday the 13th September at Anglia Ruskin University. This year’s themes naturally focused on the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) but also looked at how you can develop and manage an ongoing information strategy to support sharing and use of personal data.
One of the workshops that attendees could attend was looking specifically at how you can develop such an information strategy and what some of the challenges are for pulling this together. As the Information Governance Strategy lead for Essex County Council (ECC) this session was mine to develop. As I sat there reflecting on what we could include, lessons learnt etc. and how on earth to turn that into something practical and ‘fun’ for delegates, I thought of the Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing (the Centre). I’ve attended a few sessions with them before and having them work with me on this would mean that the session was about how ECC and others had done it (rather than just ECC).
Myself, Imogen and Stuart ( engagement managers from the Centre) had a ‘merging of minds’ and came up with a mixture of activities and traditional classroom learning. Following the theme of ‘fairy tales’ that had been woven into other sessions, we decided to place a challenge in front of our attendees. The challenge was to get an egg across a river to feed the king for his breakfast. Each table of three to four attendees (four tables in total) had different specialisms and different parts of the overall puzzle. For example, one table had the eggs and a little bit of Lego, while another table on that side of the river had a lot more Lego and were ‘construction experts’.
On the day the two ‘sides’ had to work together to build a decent enough Lego bridge to get the rubber egg from one side to the other. To say the challenge was interesting was an understatement. After a short while the side with no egg asked the side with the egg (via paper plane) what their design needed to be and what they could do to help. This definitely kicked both sides into action and a design was written down and shared. While the finished product was not exactly health and safety approved it did none the less get the egg across the river and onto the other side.
The whole exercise was designed to run through with delegates the different parts and approaches needed for working together to achieve a particular task. All the different elements of information sharing were there:
- some people having parts you needed;
- you having parts they needed;
- communication difficulties;
- personalities; and
- value in time and effort etc.
As the delegates reflected on their experience we took them through the building blocks of an information sharing strategy and used some practical examples from the Greater Essex Information Strategy as well as my work with the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS).
Each delegate then had to take these points and apply them to their own organisations to see what actions they could take sooner rather than later. They could then complete a ‘pledge’ to action one of these things based on what they had written and what they had learnt throughout the day.
With GDPR coming and information handling getting further and further up the agenda the work being done by WEISF and the Centre is even more important than ever before. While training on the ‘doing’ when you get there is key, it is just as important to help and educate people on how to get to a position of effective and compliant information sharing with your partners. Our thanks go to Stuart and Imogen for their help delivering this session. It was definitely proof that strategy can be fun.