Highlights from the second week of Analysis in Government Month 2022

We’ve had another full week of Analysis in Government Month, with some fantastic events to reflect on. 

Here’s a short re-cap if you missed anything: 

Hackathon 2.0 

We jointly hosted a Hackathon with the Office for National Statistics Data Science Campus as part of their Government Data Science Festival, which was a really great demonstration of collaboration: 

  • The aim of the event was to do a deep-dive investigation into the rising cost of living in UK households: with participants putting forward a clearly defined research question related to the topic and looking to carry out appropriate analysis to draw meaningful conclusions.    
  • We set up teams around people’s particular research interests, also making sure that each team had participants from a range of different backgrounds to ensure they had a great chance to collaborate. 
  • Teams got to present their work in front of an expert panel; showcasing how they used such a wide range of topics, data and techniques to complete the deep dives, they all put their unique spin on the task. 
  • Participants really enjoyed the event, saying that they ‘enjoyed the chance to investigate a new area and put their narrative spin on it’, that they discovered new tools and data to use during the event and that the group setting was ‘a great way to understand different perspectives’. 
  • We are keen to ensure that there are more opportunities like this in future to experiment and collaborate outside of your normal work areas. 

Live events  

We had a great panel discussion on career progression and collaboration with Alison Pritchard, Deputy National Statistician and Director General for Data Capability, Arthur Turrell, Interim Director for the Data Science Campus and author of ‘The Star Builders’ and Harry Ravi Grade 6 Economist in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

The session covered everything from cage fighting to deciding what goes on bank notes, showing the amazing reach of analysis in government. It’s hard to do justice to the great range of issues that were discussed, but some of the key points included: 

  • What has been your analysis highlight: all of the panel reflected on the diversity of roles available in Government Analysis and how it provided analysts with such a great opportunity to develop our skills and to collaborate with a wide range of people. Now is a great time to be a government analyst. 
  • What has worked less well and what did you do about it: the panel discussed a range of less positive experiences and their lessons learnt included – the importance of building trust in relationships, being pragmatic about the situation, trying not to take it personally (things rarely go to plan), the need to bring non-analysts along with you in your aims and objectives, thinking about how to incentivise others and finally show the great impact that using analysis will have. 
  • How can we improve collaboration: We’re in a great position of strength following all the influential work we have done on Brexit and COVID-19, we just need to build on this, understanding where we have synergies with other areas and thinking about how we can build better links with these areas. We need to strengthen our soft skills to ensure we have more impact and make use of all the great new technology and tools at our disposal. We also need to challenge our preconceptions about those we collaborate with. Senior leaders have to set the rules and act as role models and make sure we reward our staff for good collaboration skills not just the success of our work. 
  • How can we collaborate better when working virtually: Whilst virtual working is great, we can’t forget the benefits of working facing to face and we all need to think carefully about what approach is most effective in what situations. There’s a lot we can learn from the tech world and we should continue to understand what tools there are that can support us when we are working virtually. We all need to think about how we should flex our communication skills depending on whether you are talking to someone virtually or in person, for example, it’s harder to pick up non-verbal clues when working virtually. We also need to consider individual differences in this area, as some people find it harder to contribute in virtual discussions, so make sure you understand this and other preferences and adapt your style and methods accordingly. 
  • How can we better engage with non-analysts: We need to put the shoe on the other foot and put ourselves in their position, speak their language, understand their perspective/goals, use plain English and reach out to them. Sometimes you’ll need to be persistent and try not to get discouraged if it doesn’t work straight away. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to cover all of your great questions, but we will follow up on these separately. 

Coming up over the next two weeks 

18 May: Analysis skills within the Policy Profession. Workshop 4 of 4 

19 May: Evaluation Day – measuring value for money 

19 May: Evaluation 101 

19 May: Data visualisation and accessibility 

23 May: Ministry of Defence Analysis & Insights Team on the Wraparound Childcare Project 

24 May: Festivals, football and how to bring back fun 

25 May: Asking yourself the three key questions on Loss Estimation 

26 May: Analysis Function Strategy Launch Event 

31 May: What do we know about non-UK nationals in the labour market? 


Follow the AF Eventbrite page to browse the full calendar of events and keep up with all the latest news on Twitter @Gov_Analysis.