Before I begin
I’m heading to Newcastle for the Local Leaders Digital Accelerator training that we are running tomorrow.
It’s Sunday evening and the train is much more packed than I had expected. I write this from a LNER train to Glasgow, we’ve just been delayed by 2.5 hours, my laptop battery died and there was a small child in my seat (the one near the plug) that I didn’t have the heart to make move.
I’m bored, I’ve watched all of Season 2 of Aggretsuko, drunk my only tin of gin, and I’m annoyed about how much this trip has inconvenienced me, but the reasons for us being late (which don’t bear repeating) tell me that it could be worse.
Today marks two years since my first weeknote, which is also strange.
I’m wondering if I’ve got to the point where it’s become habitual as I don’t actually really notice or think about writing, but I do notice if I don’t write. I say this fairly often but I’m also so so grateful for the community that has grown around this. I couldn’t think of anything really to do to celebrate the occasion, and whether the occasion was really worth celebrating.
I had planned to drink the gin, get to my hotel and have a bath, but as I won’t be arriving until about 10.30 that seems unlikely. Anyway, onwards.
What happened last week (5 things that happened)
One. Last week was a bit strange and stressful. I don’t like it when the week doesn’t get off to a good start. Monday was the funeral, it was a secular funeral, with modern music that we were invited to listen to at different points, it completely floored me. Music does more to me emotionally than anything else, so Wish You were Here, Chasing Cars and Opus 17 became something much much bigger than I could deal with, and it really hurt.
There was additional stress of seeing people I haven’t seen for years, being with those people and not knowing how to be, and being back where I grew up. Downing gin and tonic on a Monday afternoon with a crowd of grieving people, still doing their best to be there for one another, in the sunshiny comfort of a pub beer garden, well, it all felt really strange.
My little one had had an ear infection and (although he was fine really) the school called me to collect him 5 minutes before we went in to the funeral – there was nobody to collect him and the other half travelled all the way back from London. That stressed me out and brought out my ever present “terrible mother / terrible wife” thing, which was a feeling that lingered into Tuesday morning when I had to rush around the house getting everything ready for school while also dialling the doctors surgery on repeat.
So I arrived back at work on Tuesday, flustered and stressed after a trip to the doctors with my little one and then on to school, then train, then tube which is not what I needed after so much time away from the office.
There’s been lots of catching up to do, lots of emails and lots of work that I still haven’t finished. I can’t count the times I’ve said “next week should be back to normal” as Julie said at One Team Gov breakfast on Wednesday…
Maybe this is normal.
Two. We had new people starting in our team which is great. I’m going to be line managing our new service designer Mark which I am really looking forward to. Dare I enter into the whole “everyone’s a designer” debate by sparking a conversation about whether managing a designer makes me a designer too (when I’m not)?
Probably not. Best to just leave it there.
Maddie has also joined James to work on the comms side, which is much needed. I’m looking forward to being a full team again soon.
Three. We had a retro, which was run by Rebecca and was really good, there’s a lot to say at the moment and good to turn some of that frustration I might have been feeling last week into action. We also did sprint planning and it’s clear that we still have a huge amount to do. The foot came off the gas for a little bit (not that we weren’t working but we were able to take some time and really think about things) and I think we will be stepping up again really soon.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that although we are doing what we can to work in the open within our directorate and department, we’ve really fallen behind in working in the open in terms of writing blog posts – I feel responsible for that. I want to be able to get it done, and then intent is there, it’s just finding the time. I’m glad that we’ve prioritised some blogging work in this sprint though, and with Maddie joining hopefully this should give us the impetus we need.
Four. One thing I did manage to do was to unblock some of the One Team Gov things I’ve been sitting on. I pulled the brief for the Nesta Radical Visions work into a blog post so that it can be more widely shared and so that we can continue to work in the open. After Westminster Breakfast I briefly met with James, Johnathan and Jenny (The Three J’s — this would make a good band) to define what to do next.
I tweeted the brief and in the evening I spent a couple of hours reaching out to all of the One Team Gov leads around the world to ask for their help and support. It took a while as I wanted to contact people directly and personally, but the response has been really heartening and it’s been amazing to see people getting involved.
It appears to have worked, the tweet has been extremely well shared and supported. with 133 RTs as I write this and 32k impressions. The post has had a lot of reads, many more views, and has been shared in weeknotes. Stefan even shared it in his Strategic Reading, which I am very excited about. I also randomly did a count up of the twitter followers we have across various accounts, it now totals almost 12k, which is madness.
I’m hoping we get some really interesting responses and a wide range of thoughts. If you want to know more about the project then you can find more info here:
You can also find out how to contribute below… Please send us your thoughts by 18 July!
You may have noticed that these weeknotes are late because rather than doing this I spent Friday pulling together some reflections on how far One Team Gov has come and what might happen next. It was a really fulfilling thing to do, and you can read that here:
Five. On Friday I had a good meeting with Rebecca and Alice about building networks. It reminded me about a piece of work I did with colleagues from across government when I was in the Cabinet Office, about the different types of networks, the support they need and want (or don’t).
I was also reminded of a not-so-perfect metaphor about networks being like layered cakes (if you apply pressure to them they just squash and collapse… and you get delicious delicious creme pat everywhere )
I’m sure I wrote about that in my weeknotes somewhere but perhaps the whole thing needs more of a write up. So look out for that post coming soon.
And what else?
Well that feels like quite enough for this week.
 Told you it was imperfect.