Weeknotes s01 ep03

Up and at ‘em!

Monday, let’s go!

The week started well. Monday we were back in the Preston office, with a to-do-list constructed in the dying embers of Friday afternoon. The BA, SME and I got right on it, and had 2 items done and crossed off before standup. Boom.

Stand up was interesting, perhaps for the wrong reasons. Cracks in the team showing, partially down to co-location and a lack of understanding. We need to all be in the same room, all the time, and start to work on ourselves as a team. Hopefully our new Delivery Manager will start to make that happen.

Service issues continued today….and we found out that a certificate hadn’t been renewed on our gateway. Surely it can’t be that difficult to keep things up to date. For Operations, they can continue to deal with their backlog, my main area of concern is the impact on the customer and their experience. We’ve messed up (in the wider sense, not my team!) and we don’t want that to impact on the citizen. Grr.

Reviewed our service roadmap in the afternoon, as well as prepping for a workshop tomorrow. Left feeling really enthused that we had achieved. A good day.

Tuesday dawned very drizzly, uurgh. This is Preston bus station, which is what I can see out of the window. Believe me, the drizzle doesn’t help this view!

The architectural delights of Preston Bus Station

Had a good catch up this morning with our new Delivery Manager, getting a lot off my chest in regards to what I perceive as splits in the team. Really cathartic to say it all out loud, and then work together to find a way forward. Hoping to get some resolution on Friday.

Took an early lunch, then had a really good afternoon. Every month we engage with our operational counterparts at senior level, to share progress and expose any blockers. This month it was a really good session, I’d lots to tell in terms of what we’re up to, and there was some interesting feedback on new starters and how to create one culture.

And we had a workshop on a workflow assistance tool to try and help operations deal with claims faster. Whilst there are some user needs, I’m a bit concerned they are seeing this as a sticking plaster….but we’ve agreed we’ll both do some further thinking and reconvene. Good to talk!

Maureen Lipman: “he’s got an -ology” (It’s good to talk!)

Tuesday night I watched Love Never Dies and was a blubbering mess. Puffy eyed on Wednesday!

Back at Preston today for a To Be mapping session, the first one. We had operational, technology, policy and ourselves in the same room, working together to make a difference. We reviewed the user needs that we’ve identified so far, then tried to craft the problems we’re trying to answers. In the afternoon we started discussions on our MVP….but not sure we’ve got this right yet. The initial solution doesn’t feel quite “transformational” enough (whilst very useful), so I’m hoping that inspiration hits in the sessions next week. Really finding it useful to learn from my PO, Mel in Discovery….this is all a team sport but it helps to have someone at the helm who knows how to steer!!

It was also interesting to see just how resistant people [still!!!] are to developing in agile rather than waterfall. Such a frustration that we’re going to have to have the same old discussions….but hoping it’s a hurdle we’ll be able to get over.

Thursday saw me in sunny Stockport for #NorthernProductPeople , a community gathering of….well, Product People in the North. Hmmm. Anyway, it was really good to do a community event and see people who are working in the same way and going through the same thing. We had talks through GaaP, Verify and Prove You Can Apply, and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Hoping that we can focus on mental health and not doing too much, which I think a lot of us will benefit from.

Plus, I got stickers!! I do love a sticker (and also feeling like I’ve got a prize for attending). Clearly very easily pleased.

I also had an initial mentor meeting with the lovely Maxine. Found this really useful in terms of getting the broader view, and having the chance to discuss what have been major milestones for shy little me, for example feeling brave enough to start committing my thoughts to paper and publishing them via #weeknotes!

Got to love a bit of She-Ra!!

Friday this week = sunny Blackpool! Had a good session with the Women In Technology group…we’ve been given a few statements to address, but I think we need to fully understand the problem so that we can make sure the answer meets the needs. Back to basics.

We had a great team retrospective: it’s been a loooooong time since our last one, so it was a bit mammoth. It is really cathartic to get things written down on a post it, just gets it out of the system. But it was the last time our established Delivery Manager will be with us, sad to say goodbye to her.


Pleased to see that the team are starting to come together. We are going to set some time aside in one of the next sprints to really talk things through, which I’ve no doubt will be incredibly powerful.

Thrilled to get a message from Kylie Havelock and Kit Collingwood-Richardson to get involved in the One Team Gov Inclusion work….really looking forward to working with some inspirational people on that!

And, in personal news, WE’VE BOOKED TO GO TO SOUTH AFRICA. Can. Not. Wait.

Off to have a celebratory gin, or maybe three. Have a great weekend and see you next week :)

Last week I learned: That discovery is hard. But having people in the room makes it better.

And that sometimes people will misunderstand your intentions, but that if you know you are doing the right thing, stick to it and try to help them understand.

Most important thing: Understanding the landscape in which our fledgling MVP will be flexing its wings….and what other constraints we need to consider.

I’m grateful for: Communities. They are a wonderful thing. FIND YOUR TRIBE. May write more on this another day….

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