5 things that happened:

1] I started doing some user research with stakeholders of the GOV.UK design system. I started with the working group, who give feedback on submissions to the design system. I wanted to:

  • introduce myself
  • discover how they are feeling about being in the group
  • find out what kind of community activity they would find useful

Inevitably, as I spoke to the Design System team, there were a million other things to do and messages that I had to pass on to the working group. It ended up turning into a hybrid user research/giving updates type of session, which was obviously not ideal. Though I got to meet some more understated heroes in government, which was brilliant. You know the type that go about their work silently, pottering away on extracurricular projects, making things much better for everyone else. I like those kind of people. …


Gif stating: I’m the new guy, nice to meet you.

TL:DR

  • I started at GDS, woop-woop!
  • I met the Design System Team, who are very passionate about making the design system better for designers and end users.
  • I’m starting to understand how complicated working on the design system is. It really is a massively complex set of challenges.

What happened?

I started my role as the GOV.UK Design System Community Manager this week. I was so excited to be joining a fabulous team and starting this new role. I loved my role at Defra, looking after over 1,500 communities of different types, but I only ever had a short-term impact on any one community. I had to be hands off and think about creating the right conditions for communities to thrive across Defra’s 34 partner organisations. It was a unique challenge and I’ll probably write a blog post soon to wrap up what I learned running the #DefraCommunities project. I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into one community and working with them to improve. …


TL:DR

  • It’s hard to guarantee learning at an unconference, without ruining the ad-hoc nature of the event
  • We’re going to add learning “around” the event at #GovCampNorth
  • We’ll be releasing the dates for these sessions soon, but in the first instance register your interest for the event

We’re so excited that #GovCampNorth is happening this year! It hasn’t been without its difficulties. We started planning an in-person event in January and had to swiftly change track once Covid-19 hit. One of the other difficulties we’ve been grappling with is ‘how can we guarantee learning takes place at our event?’. The nature of unconferences mean that you don’t know what will be discussed. Open space events are all about bringing your whole self to the event and building a connection with other attendees. …


TL;DR

  • There’s a group of fab organisers planning a GovCamp event for the North
  • We’ve been planning since February, though Covid-19 has changed our plans significantly
  • We decided to go online for the first event, which we’re hoping will happen in October
  • Follow our social accounts for updates, Medium here and Twitter here

What is UK GovCamp?

In case you haven’t heard of it, UK GovCamp is the UK’s largest public sector unconference. It is a one-day event focused on making public services and public servants better.

GovCamp organiser arranging breakout session grid
GovCamp organiser arranging breakout session grid
Taken from UKGovCamp.com

It usually runs in January in London and is a brilliant opportunity for public sector workers to network and grow. It is famous for its inclusive and welcoming environment: it runs on a weekend, has a paid for creche and funds travel for people who might struggle to pay themselves. …


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Leeds Govdesign

TL;DR

  • It’s definitely possible to be too open.
  • Feeling lots of love from the Weeknotes community.
  • GovCamp North is going to be a thing.
  • I did a talk for services week.

What happened?

Working in the open has become increasingly more important to me and is helping shape my values. I started by sharing practice with other government departments, collaborating on work and generally volunteering to help with things where I can be useful.

Starting weeknotes was scary, I really had to push myself. It’s been a learning curve and I’ve really been trying to be as open as possible. Last week, I kind of put my foot in it for the first time. I’m going to use a modified version of Brookfield’s Critical Lenses (1995) to reflect and explain my understanding of the situation. The model pushes the writer to consider a situation from different perspectives to build empathy and consideration for others’ feelings. …


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Cross-Government Delivery Managers community meetup

I’m trying a different format this week. After a Twitter conversation with Jukesie and a few others, I thought I’d use the weeknotes to reflect on my week a bit more.

I’m using a format loosely around Terry Norton’s (1970) What? So what? Now what? model of reflection.

What happened?

Lots of cross-Gov and cross sector collaboration this week. On Monday I arranged to take Defra’s capability lead, Joya and DDaT change lead, Gareth Jones to meet the DfE & Home Office capability leads. There was lots of sharing on job profiles, career pathways, internships and communities. …


TL:DR

  • Things got moving on #DefraCommunities
  • Pitched for more support to Senior Leadership Team

Monday

Up at 5am, to get to London first thing. On the way, I finished up my weeknotes and updated a slide deck for a sticker-design session at Defra’s user-centred design community away-day. I ran the session with Eleanor Shakeshaft that morning and it was lots of fun. We ended up running it a bit differently to the session on Vicky Teinaki’s blog:

1] Impromptu networking with the prompts: What comes into your mind when you think of stickers? What one word would you use to describe Defra UCD? …


TL;DR

· Senior people get really busy

· In my case, this led to a delay on decisions for #DefraCommunities

· Lots of exciting stuff Cross-Gov and One Team Gov wise

Monday

Woke up quite nervous as I had a pretty crunch meeting with two of the directors in in the area that work is going to land. For me, we are essentially going to use communities to change Defra’s workplace culture. Embedding this in overall strategy is vital if we want to get it to stick.

Apart from giving updates on progress we made and what the next steps are, I would be discussing my future with Defra as well. This was at the forefront of my mind, as I need to know whether I have to look for work elsewhere in the summer (my fixed term appointment ends in September). I have a 10 month old son, so I can’t be as aloof about work as I used to be. …


This week has been busy, varied and a bit draining in equal measure. Some work that had stagnated, suddenly started to progress again. Which is always good news! But overall, things are in a bit of a state of flux.

Monday

I had already been back for two days and caught up with the majority of my e-mails, so this was my first ‘proper’ week back. I was in Defra’s Warrington office on Monday, which means 2 hours of travel each way. I did try to get some work done on the train, but I am never as effective as when I’m sitting down elsewhere. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? …

About

Imran Hussain

Proud dad. Communities Lead. Volunteer @UKGovCamp @oneteamgov @leedsgovjam. Passionate about connecting people, public service and learning. Views are my own.

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