Weeknotes S9 Ep6

Anxietnotes

Gif: Kimmy Schmidt bangs her head against a wall.

As I write this, the house is quiet apart from the clicking on of the boiler and a faint pop-popping of the tonic in the gin beside me. My keyboard clacking is the the loudest thing going on and I am enjoying the peace.

About an hour ago I started feeling really anxious, but I put the little one to bed and now, here I am. Hello you. Hello Friday night. Here I am.

As is the way when I have feelings of (almost) any kind, I took to twitter to acknowledge my anxiety — saying something in the open tends to take some of the heat out of it for me, and James came back with the most perfect response:

If you read his most recent weeknote you’ll see this happening in “real time” — like magic. The power of the weeknotes to make us feel better. Ta-dah! [1]

So here I am. Here to think about the good things that happened in my week. There were frustrating and bad things too so lets see how we can reframe those. I’m not here to sugar coat, I’m here to work through things. Bear with me and hopefully we can get there together.

Well, first up let’s just acknowledge some of the frustrations that I’ve felt this week because they have been there and if we do that now then we will get them out of the way.

  1. I’m lonely. Being the only digital person in a busy team kinda sucks. This is especially bad when you work flexibly/part-time because you’re not in the office as much to remind people that you are there and that they can engage with you. You sometimes feel invisible, forgotten.
  2. On that note, it makes it much more difficult for me to grow any meaningful collaboration in the team. I’m struggling with that. My old team was called the Collaboration Unit. I miss thinking about collaboration all day.
  3. It’s frustrating when you share early and often and people don’t feed in because they’re not used to the approach of seeing things shift / change [read: grow / improve]. They want finished so they don’t waste time reviewing something, I get it. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time either. But working together is the best way for something to be really good, and getting late in the day changes just feels like someone is marking your homework, not working with you, and it’s very easy for that to feel disempowering whatever your disposition.

I think I’m probably just missing being part of a team who work together like a team rather than lots of individuals working independently, but that’s not something I can do anything about right now.

Anyway, let’s crack on.

Forward. As they say.

What I’ve been reading

Here’s my Trello board, it tells you what I’ve been reading this week. It is an eclectic mix including democracy, wallpaper, Air BnB, and weeknotes — enjoy.

https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

A screenshot of my Trello board

Some things that happened

I worked from home on Monday because I had a meeting at my little boy’s school with speech therapists and SEND. That’s another frustration for another time.

I worked on the digital strategy for the NLC, which I finished and passed on. I’m glad it’s done and we can agree on some next steps next week.

I attended the afternoon of a one day sprint for our Data Catalyst project and I drew lots of ideas and thought about potential products. I didn’t keep any of my doodles but I hope that the Convivio crew have framed them and put them on a wall somewhere because they are amongst some my my best work [2].

I built a board to show the progress of our digital work and to show the thing. This is in part down to some of the frustrations outlined above, and a general unease I have at the moment about my work being seen. I need to spark conversations around it and show what we are learning, and I can’t get round to speaking to everyone every week unfortunately. I hope it helps.

A photo of my board.

I wrote a blog post that I spent a bit too long thinking about, it was a response to Terence’s post about post-its being wallpaper and it’s basically me just riffing on that for a bit. I found it immensely satisfying but it hasn’t been immensely popular which is often the way when I feel like I’ve written something good.

Anyway, I entertained myself with it, and if you want to read it you’ll find it below:

https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

I went to One Team Gov breakfast on Wednesday which was the best attended breakfast in a while now (January was very quiet). It was so energising and really fulfilling to have such a range of people in the room some old but lots more new faces. Honestly, it was soul-filling stuff. So lucky to have this community of brilliant people around me.

I didn’t manage to get along to the One Team Gove Exploring Future Leadership workshops which I am really sad about. But I know it was being recorded and I can’t wait to watch it back because people who attended told me how awesome it was. And also, look at One Team Gov! Going fully Global. Delivering something really useful! Look at all of these public servants around the world coming together!

Isn’t that immense? Look what we did! (I’m taking a tiny bit of responsibility for being there to support building this thing. I’m allowing myself to feel a teeny bit proud). On that note…

Better meetings

I took part in a conversation for Apolitical.co about how to have better meetings in government with Vasant, Susan and Gray. It was amazing to do this with public servants from Canada and to hear the other speaker’s thoughts.

I did a quick count up of the locations of people who introduced themselves in the chat, it looks like:

Canada (66), UK (27), USA (9), Netherlands (3), Indonesia (1), Belgium (2), Germany (1), Brazil (1), Peru (1), Bulgaria (1), Argentina (1), Columbia (2), Finland (1) and Switzerland (2).

That’s 118 people who introduced themselves from 14 countries. It was really humbling to be part of this because at one point there were 400 people who joined the zoom link which is amazing. Another lovely thing was seeing lots of names I recognised popping up in the chat, I felt really among my people, and among new brilliant and inclusive people. It was ace.

On the call Vasant spoke about the different reasons to hold meetings so I thought I would share them for you here as they seem really useful:

Inform — presentations and telling people something. You could include silent reading of papers in this kind of meeting.

Decide — A meeting to agree on options to proceed. If you’re having this kind of meeting you should make sure you’ve actually got the right level of decision making authority.

Convince — If you need to get someone on side or bring them round to your way of thinking, then you should think about how you do this. It might be better off as a coffee or informal chat.

Involve — a consultative process to gather thoughts and perspectives. Ideally this wouldn’t lead to decision making, that would be done after looking at all of the information that’s been gathered.

Discover — more like a 1:1 research interview.

Be challenged — to gain diverse perspectives and to be held to account. In these meetings irs really important to consider who we want to include and to make sure that we have a range of people and we make sure they feel included.

I also thought the way that Apolitical facilitated the session was excellent, with interactive questions and a really lively chat. The thoughts that were being shared were excellent and I’ve already made contact with someone at DCMS who has set up a facilitator community in their previous department.

If you’re interested to hear the conversation and read the notes, you’ll find it here

https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

I’m sure more than this happened but this is the latest I’ve written weeknotes for a while so I’m going to call it a night now. Much love this Valentines day, mwah. Have a lovely weekend.


[1] Note: This is not sarcasm, but in my current anxious state when I read this back it sounds less than genuine — so I want to clarify.

[2] Note: This is a joke.

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