Probably one of the best things we can all get better at right now is giving written feedback.

In this time of remote working and zoom fatigue, much more of our conversations have become asynchronous. This means that the communicating between us isn’t happening at the same time — unlike say, a phone call.

There are some serious pros to asynch communication when your goal is to help someone to learn something.

I’ve really welcomed it helping people to reflect with what what they’re learning. …


For as long as I remember I have been afflicted with a curse that I’m sure many of you also struggle with: I am a nightowl.

Being a nightowl has been very uncomfortable in a society where most of the jobs I have wanted to do, and most of my social events have revolved around a 9–6 working pattern.

But the truth is, this weird 8 hour block working day really prevents all of us from doing our best work — no matter where we sit on the lark to nightowl spectrum.

Here’s a quick look at the science.

Below is a chart showing our energy levels throughout the day. You can also replace energy levels with ‘focus’ or ‘good mood’ as they look the same. …


In 2012 I was a struggling truant at school in Bedford when the EU changed my life.

A small part of what the EU does (in various ways) is fund youth organisations to come together and share best practice, learn and discuss. I had been involved for about a year in organising with Liberal Youth (at the time youth wing of the Liberal Democrats) and in October of that year I had stumbled upon the opportunity to travel to Sofia, Bulgaria and meet fellow young activists from similar groups all over Europe.

When I was growing up my Mum took care of my younger brother and I on minimum wage, there wasn’t really a huge budget for travel and certainly my school wasn’t one that offered big trips abroad. This trip was special because it was entirely funded by EU money, travel and hotel, which made it possible. …


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General details

  • Outcome area: Network
  • Phases: Delivery
  • Timeframe: Ongoing
  • Doing the work:
    CAST — To develop and refine workshop content
    Partners — To promote to their networks and kickstart or bolster regional ecosystem development
    CREW — Cross-sector, cross-UK facilitators, responding to needs and networks local to them

Summary of work

Deliver and iterate free ‘introduction to digital’ workshops for charities across the country, in partnership with local charity, tech and community organisations.

More on this work

The Design Hop workshop is a friendly and engaging space to explore how digital might help your charity. Learn more on the CAST Design Hops page.

Intended output

Workshops throughout the year across the country.

Fit with Catalyst purpose

Design Hops sit under the Network outcome area: Galvanise an effective, sustainable and collaborative cross-sector network to drive sector change (that change being a growing number of nonprofits making effective use of digital, design and data to improve their services and their organisational…


As 2019 draws to an end I’m going to be giving myself a whole two weeks off completely (today is my last day).

As well as lots of rest and social time I’m looking forward to, I really want to use the time off work to properly read several of the articles and books that have caught my eye throughout November & December.

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It feels like a really important opportunity to reflect and learn, given what a big year it has been for me and what the recent election results say about our society and country’s future.

Some of these will be shorter reads that I just wasn’t in the headspace for fully taking in when I first came across them, and some are longer reads that I started and then realised that I didn’t have the time for that week. …


So, there we have it — the election many of us suspected was bubbling up will finally come to pass on December 12th 2019 (baring no surprises from the House of Lords).

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This General Election means a lot of things to our country, to our exhaustion and optimism levels, and our potential pathway out of Brexit — but what specifically does it mean for the charity sector?

It means that we must build new influential relationships.

Whatever the political makeup of the December onwards Parliament, we can be certain that we will lose some of the key people and all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) that we’ve worked so hard to levy relationships of influence with — both on local and national levels. …


I’m pretty obsessed with organisational psychology, for an organisation of exactly one person.

One of my favourite podcasts I use an an introduction to workplace culture tweaks to follow up on in more depth is Eat, Sleep, Work Repeat. This week’s episode introduced me to the apparently oxymoronic ‘silent meeting’.

Essentially silent meetings are far more consciously facilitated than your average meeting towards the outcome direction, and allow far more time for concentrated thought. Not only are they an interesting new way of doing things, I think they are fairly pragmatic in their accommodation of human behaviour.

How Silent Meetings run

  • They kick off with a ‘Table Read’. This is a google doc prepared by the meeting initiator in advance which covers all the background context and problem at hand. Each participant then reads and thinks about it in silence yet adds comments and questions where they have them directly in the document. Others can then jump in and add thoughts and questions too, in real time. This takes as long as necessary. …


With the recent #CharitySoWhite campaign revealing a lot of horrible and racist crap people of colour in the social good sector experience, I was reflecting on my own undergrad dissertation (from a good few years ago now) which taught me a lot about how exactly this ‘othering’ and colonial aspect of racism in this country creeps into ‘social good’ work.

Of course, its actual title was rather more wordy:

‘Representations of Citizens in Developing Nations Used in INGO Communications Reinforce the Prevailing Discourses Regarding Global Power Relations Between the North and South.’

My particular work looked at it in the context of international development and definitely the moral issues it raised around global power and racism is a reason I didn’t head down that career path. …


I get lots of comments about my email signature.

As I am self-employed I often choose a flexibility outside of 9–5 which means that I am replying to this email at a time which is convenient to me. However I have no expectation that you will reply outside of your own chosen or agreed working hours! Please enjoy your leisure and rest time as much as I do mine.

I set this as my email signature as a response to receiving a disturbing amount of semi-immediate replies at strange times of the evening and weekends from people I knew didn’t have the same kind of flexible work hours that I’ve chosen. With spiralling levels of workplace stress in the sector I really didn’t want to be even a small contributor to that with people imagining that I was grinding my teeth at not getting an asap reply so jumping straight to it. …


I think a lot about Long Work vs. Hard Work.

Long work refers to the kind of work where it takes time, sure, but its not really moving you forward. It’s about showing up, going through the motions, counting the hours, then clocking out. Nothing much has changed for you that day, but you did get paid.

Hard work then is framed as the opposite — the work of deep thinking and synthesising, of learning and testing it out. …

About

Ab Brightman

Hustling for good→ www.abbrightman.com

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