Weeknotes S6 Ep02

Hey Duggie painting and decorating.

Before I begin

Hey. Hi. How are you?

I tried to start writing this yesterday (Thursday) but at every point my brain just said no, no no. Stop. We had a lot of people in the house doing our garden and some decorating. I was distracted and I couldn’t stop and take time to think properly about things. Hopefully I can do that today.

Also I work on a Thursday morning, which means there’s no real separation between the work and the weeknote (more on that later).

It doesn’t give me time to decompress properly and am much more likely to just repeat what happened in the week rather than thinking about what I thought about the week. So maybe a Friday note is better.

This week

I felt a few things click into place and I also felt like I was beginning to get a handle on what I need to do and how I’m going to do it. There were some good discussions that pushed me but helped me understand more clearly what I care about.

Part-times

I feel like I’ve been going on about this a lot, but my working pattern is still proving a little problematic. On Monday my train was delayed and then it broke down. It meant I didn’t get into work until later than 9.30.

For someone who leaves at 12.30 on a Monday that lost half hour was a pain.

I made stand-up, caught up on emails and had some useful conversations. But I’m finding that on these half days just as I get started I have to run off again. My commute is seeming like a much bigger time-drain than when I worked full-time.

A Muppet on a train screaming.

I’m wondering if this working pattern (which was necessary when I was working at GDS) is working now. I would probably get more out of a full day of working from home than I am getting out of travelling for a half day.

On top of that I think its likely that my other half’s working pattern will change in the next few weeks and I have to be mindful of that. I think I’ll give it a little while longer and see how I feel, but at the moment I definitely feel less productive and able to get going in a half day of space.

Jigsaw falling into place [1]

I started Tuesday with some uncertainty about what I was going to do with the day. Lots of my team were out at the Agile for Teams training that we are offering to our funded projects, and I wasn’t sure if I had enough to do, or where to put my energy.

I was even toying with the idea of doing my compulsory training.

Hahaha, good one.

But because of that I ended up having a great conversation with Egle and Rich which helped me to get things a bit clearer in my head about what I want to do next and what I think will have the most value.

We have a kanban but it isn’t really working for me. We want to track our funded projects’ progress but I’m struggling because I don’t think we can capture meaningful information on the board. It’s a way of giving headline stats e.g. X projects have booked onto this training.

That kind of information is needed, because senior people want us to report on progress in a way that can be easily understood, but I’m struggling to engage with it as I’m finding it relatively low value in the grander scheme of things.

That conversation did, however, give me the trigger I needed to start considering how I’m going to track my projects and how I’m planning to gauge success…

Success isn’t the right word actually. It’s more about confidence that the thing produced will be valuable, or that the process will produce something of value. Not necessarily be successful.

Ultimately it’s my team’s job to find the most reusable, high value things that will have the biggest benefit to the local government sector. I think that’s cool and important.

I was planning to work, as I normally do, intuitively. Following my nose or my spidey sense (as Simon would say) until I felt like I’d got all of the information I needed.

But I can’t do that in this instance; Egle will be managing her own projects, Adam and Rebecca the same, so we need to make sure that we are all on the same page and “assessing” projects [2] in the same way, so that we can go and fact find, come back and compare on an equal footing; building a good combined understanding of all the work.

I started thinking about and drawing up a canvas that I can use to measure things, work out what I know or don’t know, and track my questions or worries.


Some pictures of my canvas sketches and a “finished” canvas

It’s not all the thinking on it, and it needs other people’s eyes on it to become something more effective, but it’s helped to focus my thinking for now and has given us a starting point to work from. I’m going to see one of my teams in Worcester this week so I’ll be using it to plan the conversations I need to have.

Resisting structure

We are in a period of planning for our next mission and trying to work out what we will do in each of our sprints. Its all fairly new to me and, to be honest, I’m finding myself inadvertently resistant to it.

Nuh-uh. I don’t like it.

I’m not sure why that is because I understand that we need to make sure we are on the same page, but I guess (going back to what I’d said previously about working intuitively) that I’m feeling like it’s exerting a bit too much structure on me.

I’m naturally resistant to too much structure, especially when I can’t see how it relates to the bigger picture.

But then, I’ve spoken a lot in weeknotes about not feeling like I’ve achieved or finding it difficult to show success in an understandable, measurable way because of the nature of working in engagement or generalist type roles.

The discipline of going through this process will will lead to more measurable outcomes. I know this. So maybe it’s my lack of experience of being disciplined about the process that I’m feeling resistant to.

More thinking on this required I think.

What else?

I’ve been noticing a lot of people moving around and things shifting about, but rather than unsettling it feels positive.

I went to One Team Gov breakfast and it was fun. I wrote some quick notes because Jenny couldn’t make it. I finally got round to publishing Nour’s posts about what we learned from One Team Gov Global and tweeted them into the wide world.

It’s a two-parter so it’s quite long, but packed with insight and a really informative post for anyone thinking of running their own event.

You’ll find Part One here:

View at Medium.com

I booked my travel and hotel for SDinGov and I met Steve to start planning our presentation. Over an above it just being nice to see Steve and catch up it also felt like we were moving this work in the right direction — so I was pleased.

Here’s our presentation if you’re interested in attending:

View at Medium.com

On Thursday I heard that my mentee has been offered a new job that they really wanted and I’m so happy, they’ve done such a lot of excellent work and I’m really glad to have done a small part to help.

I really loved this post by Dave House

View at Medium.com

I found these insights about turnover int he Civil Service really interesting [thread]:

I started watching Marie Kondo on Netflix (to troll myself? Perhaps a little) and enjoyed this article because articles about Katamari are my jam.

View at Medium.com

And I loved this Policy Lab blog post written by my lovely colleague Becky:

I clicked a link to this from another article, and even though it’s old it really is quite beautiful and not just specific advice but advice for always:

View at Medium.com

I also went down a rabbit hole investigating this product that I saw on Instagram…

View at Medium.com

I am always up for hearing about natural remedies that help with anxiety and depression but this sounded like rubbish. What are adaptogens? Why is it so expensive? Etc etc. All the articles and vlogs I could find sounded like they were just reading from the same press release.

The long and short of it is that I came across this article about one of the companies other products. It mentions Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow and also how the product just made her really really sick.

View at Medium.com

So kids. Don’t get your supplements from Instagram recommendations and don’t trust Paltrow.

And lastly, I loved this:

And tomorrow is GovCamp! Yay! Look out for a separate post about my thoughts and experiences on the day.

No playlist this week because I’ve just been listening to the one from last week. Sorry about that.

Byeeeeee!


[1] Easter egg. And, for the record, I think this is my favourite Radiohead song. Contentious? Probably. I don’t care. I love songs about falling in love in nightclubs, what can I say.

[2] We aren’t assessing projects but I can’t think of a better word here. Monitoring? Watching? Assessing for usefulness, but again, not success.

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