Open the door, get on the floor
Overarching feeling of the week
A varied week with some running around days and other days with a bit of downtime.
We recently moved desks and I think this partly contributed to my Monday being my best day since I started my new job.
This is because the new location makes it easier to chat to people. Chatting means not only speaking about work stuff but other stuff too. That means getting to know what people are interested in, and learning to see them as human beings (it sounds stupid but I find that people often have problems remembering this).
So learning that Kate likes reading meta analysis and social psychology, Adele’s opinions of eurovision, and discussing creative note taking with Steven, Sam and Hannah is all really useful and interesting information which will help us gel as a team. That’s the stuff I’m interested in.
Five things that happened (more than five things happened)
1. I found out this week that I’m going to be line managing one of the DEMs (Digital Engagement Managers) which is great news and I hope I can do a good job at it. It’s good timing too because I was really starting to miss this from my old role.
2. On Monday night I got a drink with Luke and Adele by way of a handover as Adele will shortly be moving on to a secondment in the Government as a Platform (GaaP) team. I will be taking responsibility for the Cabinet Office which is good (I have lots of context) but strange (it’s my old team!).
It made a nice change to catch up properly and I enjoyed a beer in the sunshine, though a Monday pint does not set me up well for the week.
On Tuesday evening I met Morgan for a catch up. We had a nice walk and bought cupcakes to eat in the park. It made a change and I was grateful because I was too tired for another alcoholic beverage.
Immeduately after I catch up with Morgan I always start to think of lots of things I wanted to say or ask but didn’t remember to in the moment.
It’s strange and I need to get better at asking more questions. I think “don’t be nosy” was programmed into me at a young age. But I know that it is important and helps people to know that you’re genuinely interested in their lives. So I’m trying to change that and stop being so socially awkward.
I also often worry that people will read these weeknotes and find them terribly one sided and self-involved. But maybe that is my imposter speaking, or maybe because talking about my work is slightly fluffy and difficult. I’m not sure.
I also got to work with Simon on something a bit hard and he was really helpful. It was so good to see how seriously we take this business of assessing services, it is important #yes
3. I managed to get along to One Team Gov Breakfast Club this week after a two week hiatus. This week there were a good number of individual discussions and a range of different chats. I’m going to try and take up Jenny’s mantle of documenting the discussions, especially as she couldn’t make it this week.
The subjects covered included #OneTeamGovGlobal and how to boost numbers of international attendees (Spoiler: we already have 40 countries represented but we would love even more!).
Stefan raised a question about transparency in spend and contracts data for government. Lots of thought has already happened in this area but actually enforcing departments to share their information is difficult. It means any published information is patchy.
Prateek asked what good use of data looks like and how we might build literacy in this area across local and central government.
Some discussions raised that there is often a lot of worry that data in some way equals governance and beaurocracy. Dan raised this and said that we need to encourage understanding and enable people to take responsibility.
Stefan also made a provocative statement:
“I think some senior leaders secretly think duplication is a good thing…”
I totally took the bait on this and rushed headlong into thinking about protectionism, leadership, incentives and culture change to enable collaboration.
It was really interesting to hear Matt Edgar’s take on this via Twitter…
It’s hard to argue with that, and I think I’ve been a bit blinkered in my thinking about preventing duplication. It’s shifted my perception of creating services, particularly in a local context. I have become a bit lazy and centrist in my thinking about it and not fully thought though how creating reusable shared components should enable services to meet local and diverse needs.
It seems obvious but I just hadn’t thought it through properly before. I was also speaking to someone from a local council today and this approach seemed totally apposite. So thanks Matt.
I also had a really good conversation with people about service assessments and people’s perception of the process. I sense that some quarters think this really isn’t working or is irrevocably broken somehow, and I’ve always found that notion difficult.
People pushing for change within their departments see the value in assessments, they use them to help drive change in their organisations. But there is a perception of assessments becoming “weakened” however fuzzy a concept that is.
I’ve been thinking a lot about capability and how to pull expertise into departmental assessments to help them see value and to show GDS as a partner and peer. I think we do that already but possibly it’s not publicised enough, possibly because we don’t have the resources to accept every request made of us, our DEMs are really busy!
Anyway, I’m sure I will have more thoughts on this… [yay Sam, we love your rambling thoughts].
4.I had to cancel the next outing of Culture Club because everybody (but two people) cancelled on me and an overlapping meeting appeared in my diary.
It’s really disappointing given what I said above about getting to know people as human beings.
We were due to go to Hope to Nope at the Design Museum which looks incredibly interesting, so I will have to find another time to get there.
But I will put the next ones in and hope for the best, I think we have a good list of things to get to.
Managing my own time is currently quite frustrating because I’m still getting to grips with things and doing a fair bit of shadowing. It means I don’t have the context to some of the events that appear in my diary and I have to work out what they are and what they’re for (plus if I will add any value by attending).
On Wednesday this week I rushed between Horse Guards to Marsham Street and then back to Horse Guards and back to Marsham street again because something I thought was a call was actually a meeting. I also got stood up by someone. It’s difficult.
5. On Friday I spent the day doing the “Introduction to Service Design” course at GDS.
It was a good primer and the exercises were fun. It wasnt really groundbrraking (for me) but just pulled together things I knew in an interesting way. But if the objective was to make everyone feel like they do aspects of service design, get them using it in their day jobs, and that service design is important then I think it succeeded.
I think I would like some more, deeper, training on it because I think it’s quite a good fit for my skills and I’d like to do more.
However, by this definition I think I am already a service designer:
Service design is fuzzy, it steps on toes, it asks difficult questions, it fills gaps, it facilitates.
I enjoyed hearing about the service design community and I’m glad its partially informal so I now know that I could just rock up sometime. I was worried that I needed to be a practitioner to attend.
Plus, it was good to meet some people I’d never met before. I also met a Twitter face that I hadn’t met before IRL, Benjy Stanton. Hi!
A longer write up (with more of the outputs of the session) to follow.
A quieter week for me on the organising front because I have been busy. I did a bit of work on Sunday afternoon only to discover that I had duplicated effort with Morgan. I thought we were going to do the work on Tuesday so I was prepping while Morgan was doing. That was slightly frustrating.
It’s a good part of working with this crew though because everyone just gets on with things when they see that they need to happen.
I’ve been tweeting, monitoring Twitter and engaging with people. We are starting to pull together a real plan now and people have their tickets and are getting excited, that’s great!
Please let us know what you’re most looking forward to on the day!
I also learned that Douglas from The Forestry Commission (and One Team Gov Scotland) will be in my hood on Monday morning so it will be good to meet him!
In other news…
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and I was sad I couldn’t get to any events but pleased to see that the Cabinet Office Workwell network picked it up this year after I organised last year with ABLE.
There’s been a lot of great content this week about mental health and stress…
I read something by Oliver Burkman yesterday too which talks about absolutist language and links to depression. It also says that there is a correlation between people who use the works “I” and “me” more frequently suffering from depression.
*Hastily goes back through weeknotes to count up all the I’s*
I totally agree with this sentiment:
As a mentor I don’t know the amount of times I’ve said this to people (but especially women).
I really loved the amount of useful positive feedback that I had on the below tweet. It will really benefit my team as we improve the service of assessing services (lol) across government.
Thank you everyone but super big thanks to Salma who, having never met me before, immediately emailed me a bucketload of gold. Thank you!
On the back of that discussion I had a great book recommendation from Alex:
I’m plugging my way through that and investigating Liberating Structures a bit more. It also chimes quite well with the activities we did in the Service Design training; zooming out and zooming back in again.
I really enjoyed this blog by Sameer Vasta:
On the subject of jobs, this rings all too true…
I really loved this…
And finally after much discussion about some of my more interesting playlist titles on Twitter, I bring to you…
(I did this a long time ago and had to remind myself what was on there. I discovered I’ve hidden a dragon and Godzilla hoping that they pass for dinosaurs, shhhhhh).
Till next time.