Weeknotes S01 Ep04

The Kid A of weeknotes.

I found this old BBC news page describing Kid A as Radiohead’s “difficult” fourth album. And hey, this is my difficult fourth weeknote, so.

‘Difficult’ Radiohead album is a hit — BBC news, 4 October 2000

Remember when the BBC looked like that? All the colours! All the icons!

Anyway. As is the way of an enigmatic rock band, I’m going to say that this week has been dominated by things I actually can’t tell you about…

I took Monday morning off to get over illness and migraine on top of the stresses I spoke about in Ep03. Thank you for all your messages about that, I appreciated every one of them.

In reality taking the morning off meant only replying to a couple of emails because I find it really hard to switch off, even when I’m ill. But I did get a lie in so which was desperately needed.

In the afternoon I joined the Digital team meeting via hangouts and caught up on what everyone is currently doing. Afterwards I caught up with Romina to talk about accessibility audits and reviewed a support proposal that Luke had written.

I worked from home again on Tuesday because: childcare. In Ep03 I spoke about a pilot which had come my way for help. Because the team want to use a native app this is completely out of policy; under spend controls it’s subject to a £0 spend threshold (that basically means it gets the highest level of scrutiny).

This lead to some confusion with the stakeholder because they aren’t spending any money on the app, the company are offering it for free. So in their view, why should it have to go through a spend control process when there’s no spend?

“No, we’re not interested in money”

It’s an interesting anomaly around how the guidance is written, and it’s taken a little while to ensure the point is understood. Anyway, this process has lead to some really good collaboration with Adele at GDS, and I always really enjoy working with Adele.

Tuesday morning I spoke with another colleague at GDS about a discovery happening within one area of our department which we didn’t know about, so I will be picking that up with Wendell soon.

In the afternoon I had some emails relating to a Graduate Placement Sift I had volunteered to do on Thursday. This was organised between HR and the BME network to make sure that there would be good representation — which is great.

I would be scoring 750 word statements against 4 competencies at B1 level. I found out in the afternoon that I would have 60–66 applications to review! Now, I’m no maths expert (seriously, my psychometric test results attest this), but by my reckoning that would mean, 12 per hour for 5 hours — or one every 5 minutes! I started worrying a bit about that.

I also read this really interesting blog about speed learning at DfT which I sent through to some of my team who will be running some events in September.


Wednesday I was back in the office. I was hoping to get in early for the One Team Government breakfast but events (or rather, busses) conspired against me and I was half a hour late. I then had a bout of social anxiety and although I could see everyone in the cafe I couldn’t bring myself to join in because I thought I was too late (and I’m an idiot). Next time.

Dr. Idiot.

In the morning I had my 1:1 with Luke, gave some advice to the HMRC Mental Health Group, and set up a demo meeting. Then some news dropped which I can’t talk about and haven’t fully got my head around anyway so I’ll save that for a later weeknote.

So enigmatic.

Wednesday evening I got the train home with my friend Matti who works at the Home Office. We talked broadly about Service Design (his role) and some of the things we both come up against, that night I read this blog by Ben Holliday which is basically our discussion summed up by somebody else who wasn’t there. That was weird.

On Thursday morning I had some good news that a team I’m working with will be allowed to use Slack for something they are running. This is great because what they were previously doing was out of policy (another native app use!) and they had previously sought forgiveness rather than approval in terms of spend controls — eek! But now they’re doing the right thing in the right way and are using a free solution — an all-round win. I was really happy.

I spoke to Atique about accessibility audits and we worked on a brief together which we can use to send to suppliers. This will be great as we can also use it as a template going forward.

Then I cracked on with my Graduate Placement sift. There was some confusion about how this was supposed to be scored which lead to delays, and completing one every 5 minutes just wasn’t possible. I managed to get 30 done in total! Hopefully I will be able to find some time next week to do some more.

In the evening I sent a shout out on Twitter saying that I’m looking for a mentor, I wasn’t expecting much but was really pleasantly surprised by the response! I already have a few leads, or at least two new people to have coffee with which is always good, and I’m meeting with Dan to chat about it as he is also looking. Blog to follow. (And thank you everyone!)

Some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head this week.

  1. Chad shared this article on Twitter:

I really enjoyed the section about the Anatomy of Trust and the acronym ‘BRAVING’. Even though I think it’s a bit long to be an acronym, it is a good checklist. I’m going to start applying it.

2. I’ve set up a “Learning Library” for some of my colleagues. It’s literally just a shared spreadsheet but it is full of links to blogs and videos, as well as a book swap for people who might have downtime and want to learn something. It’s defined by theme, and it uses some of the links that were recommended by people on Twitter and collated by Paul Maltby on Github. I’m trying to implement small things which will make a difference to how the wider DAT team understand and work with each other. It’s small but it will grow. I hope it helps.

3. In Ep01 I talked about how I was trying little, manageable experiments in cultural change (point 2 is an example). I read a blog by Kit and One Team Gov (below) the other day where she calls these kinds of things ‘microactions’ which is a good phrase that I’m definitely going to steal.


See you next week!

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