Welcome 2018… time to continue weeknoting!
How did this week go?
Change is the only constant…. well it certainly is at DWP right now — new SoS, Junior Ministers and Perm Sec in a week! Some old faces in different roles, some new ones. So my next task is to think about how to engage our new leadership in designing the future. But for now, to review last week.
Having worked out last year that a lot of my wellbeing depends on contact with other humans, I had some lovely catch ups this week. Its helpful to hear about other work areas and collaborate on problem solving, as well as just fun to see them! And on Friday it gave us a good opportunity to pop over to GDS! (I was clearly excited to see everyone!)
I had a very contrasting Tuesday and Wednesday: from a staff engagement event in the beautiful FCO (that had me reminiscing about my undergrad days studying History of Art) to a (very useful meeting in a) very grey Sheffield. Fortunately Sheffield makes up for it with excellent street art and poetry from Ian McMillan.
Tuesday also featured my first One Team Gov meet up of the year, on the theme of New Year, New Microambition! (What actions will we take to be better at our jobs for users). We had a lean coffee session (moving to the next topic after voting) looking at accidental exclusion of people with dyslexia and blogging. It completely hadn’t occurred to me that the Post-Its we use for so many digital etc type events were exclusionary, so I’m really glad Josie brought it up. We thought about solutions — sharing what we’re going to talk about earlier so no one’s put on the spot, using digital tools and I think especially importantly getting dyslexic people to lead and contribute to how we structure things and challenge and improve.
We also talked about blogging — starting with “How can I get my blog ideas out the door?” and “am I creating my own hurdles?”. Its a really good topic, and I pleased Tracey raised it, because I think she (and others) will have some really interesting things to say, and I want to read them! Sure, we can’t spend all week reading everyone else’s blogs… but everyone should have the opportunity/ feel able and I definitely used to be far too scared to blog in my last job, thinking I was far too inexperienced to put my opinions on technology ‘out there’ for criticism. But I am an expert on what I did this week, so weeknoting has helped me talk about things publicly. Its also been incredibly useful to review and reflect, and Emma made us smile when she talked about “offline blogging” — writing and reflecting without putting it on the internet (you know, like we used to in the old days). We talked about why its scary (fear of negative reactions, fear of no reaction) and I shared some tips — using what I would before a meeting where I was nervous about sharing something — building a consensus outside the room and checking with people first. With blogs I’m unsure of, I’ll check in with the excellent Stefan Czerniawski and Billy Street to see if I’m talking complete rubbish or its a bit too much to put on the internet. Josie Fraser was really encouraging — especially about the importance of getting your profile and opinions out there — and using a blog as an archive of the things you’ve said. And on this note, Tracey raised a perspective I hadn’t thought of — when you’re not physically there (if you’re working part time or located in different places) blogs become a way to not become invisible. Twitter has been brilliant for me for making and building connections — and it hadn’t occurred to me how much that it and blogging would be a solution to (in)visibility when someone returns from parental leave and works part time. So I’m looking forward to seeing what Tracey writes!
And on this note, James Arthur Cattell has joined the weeknotes club!
One Team Gov Parish notices: Breakfast at HMT started up again this week (but I was in Sheffield, boo!), lunches are alternate weeks in DfE, #OneTeamGovWest has started up with MOD, DEFRA and others. And next Monday is One Team Gov in Wales https://oneteamgov.uk/wales so I’m excited to be heading to Cardiff!
I also wrote a nice presentation this week which was pleasing mainly because it did the job of communicating properly (which meant people were pleased 💪) , and I get so frustrated by bad slides. It also led to a funny email conversation about tips for writing slides including the phrase “Oh my god, ALIGN” — I can hear an old boss losing their proverbial about poorly tidied slides looking woefully unprofessional.
I popped over to the RSA to hear Geoff Mulgan on How Collective Intelligence Can Change the World; lots of tools are emerging (or have been existing for a while — like Wikipedia for 17 years today!) for collaboration — a few quotes:
- Argument is essential — we don’t want too much consensus
- Government “often a case study of collective stupidity” [excuse me!]
- Whitehall is a machine that tries to pretend there is one good way to do things.
- Wisdom is supposedly the highest level of collective intelligence is really the ability to judge the setting and outcomes
- We have lots of smart devices but we’re not necessarily becoming collectively more intelligent
- Emerging examples of collective intelligence projects include spotting epidemics as they emerge— and then feeding back to public health to deal with them and the Cancer registry in NHS — feeding in data on observation, predictive diagnoses etc
- Everyone doing these things is improvising [you could say this of a quite a few things]
- Millennials feel like they’re part of a collective knowledge and share their feelings and minds readily, thanks to technology
And… you know you’re a Civil Servant when…. last night we watched United 93 and I spent the whole time spotting system failures and worrying about their risk register… rolling my eyes at myself.
In other news…
Things I have discovered this week:
Thinking of the blogging conversation… this nice piece on fighting your Impostor Syndrome
How to tackle impostor syndrome in the new year
Last fall, I met a computer science major named Patricia who shared a story about one of her first college exams. She'd…
I found two interesting new words this week;
In a world that thinks everyone is a shining star of awesomeness (which can be pretty uncomfortable, especially for the english), a danish word: Janteloven — the feeling that we are not special. Unsurprisingly (for Civil Servants) this came up in the context of the awkwardness of competency interviews and having to tell little stories about how amazingly awesome you were.
What Exactly Is Janteloven?
Ever wondered why Norwegians are the way they are? The answer, at least in part, lies in the societal norms known as…
And on the other side of things, I thought this was lovely — theres a word for bouncing around with joy when good things happen to others.
And to end, this quote — inevitably from Radio 4, as so much of the stuff that makes it into my brain is — seemed apt in Reshuffle week, and also thinking of several circumstances in people’s personal lives lately (source: http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/)
The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric.