Reflecting on a few weeks of delivering things, and improving them

Shuri with a Wakandan insight: just because something works doesn’t mean it cannot be improved

I work in a team that serves data-driven insights to the most senior decision-makers in government. In recent weeks I’ve been building a data catalogue for use by the whole team, as part of wider efforts to make our work sustainable, scalable, and more reliable.

A reminder that in what I write, no criticism of any individual or team is implied. As per the Prime Directive often used in Agile retrospectives:

“Regardless of what…

In which the enmity between perfect, good, and better resurfaces

When delivering insight from data at pace, as my team does, how do you make space for improving the foundations on which that insight is based? How do you strike an appropriate balance between responding quickly to asks made of your team, and securing the necessary tools — modernised pipelines of data, sustainable workflows, suitably designed technology — that make responding to future asks that much faster, easier, more reliable? …

In which I chew over varied things, and find time to write a long weeknote

Any excuse for a Gilmore Girls meme

A data conundrum

It may be closer to the chicken/egg scenario in complexity than Schroedinger’s Cat, but I have been reflecting on a juicy conundrum:

What comes first — intelligent consumers of data, demanding clean, neat, insightful data in sustainable pipelines; or mature suppliers of such data? Which leads to which?

I recognise that in simplifying the often complicated relationship between those generating and sharing data, and those receiving and deriving value from it, into a linear supply/demand…

In which we explore some recurring themes


In government data circles, there are many important things that aren’t considered all that fashionable — or indeed sexy. I might revisit this as a theme another time, but for now let’s talk about data catalogues, as that’s been on my work mind this week.

I’m all for user-centred design, and if the primary user of data is an analyst or data scientist, and the use case is to deliver timely insight to inform an urgent decision, cataloguing that data might seem like a luxury — get the data in…

I’ve dropped the S(n)E(x) format, as who knows when I’ll next write…

Image for post
Image for post
Gator, croc — which is which?

It’s been while. A while since I last wrote a note (September 2020); a while since I’ve been to the office (with one exception below, 16th March 2020); a while since I’ve seen extended family, or visited a museum, or since any semblance of normality evaporated. As it has for us all.

This note is prompted in some ways by guilt at not having made the space to reflect on work and life in recent months, in part at the return to lockdown, and in part by the…

In which lots of things happened over two weeks, and I arrive at a crossroads

When people ask ‘how was your week?’ I often answer “oh, y’know, busy…” Many of us do.

Image for post
Image for post
Lemur says being busy is not a competition

Without wishing to sound macho [narrator: you’re a slightly rounded-at-the-middle five-feet-four, who are you kidding?!…], the past fortnight has been pretty busy even by normal standards, but looking back, it’s been a pick n’ mix scenario rather than One Big Thing. That’s something I’ll come back to.

Things I’ve been busy with include:

  • helping to design, and co-facilitating, a Hackathon-style workshop for senior public service leaders, eliciting an…

Line management, friends, and public service innovation

Management fail

This week I participated in line management training

[no wait, dear reader, come baaaack….]. Apart from the huge amount of time it’s taken up, I found it really useful — and yes I recognise this means my interests are even more niche than you’d imagined. I’ve had line and task management responsibilities before, albeit often informally, but never been on formal training. Thankfully there was less procedural detail on this course (in fact there could have been more, given how byzantine civil service bureaucracy can be…), and more tips on how…

In which Black Panther reminds us of the value of purpose

A expertly-crafted tweet from our colleagues OIT, who are experts in convening experts


In my regular day-job, I’ve been poring over the thoughts of experts, as I prepare articles that my team commissioned from research academics for publication. The articles stem from workshops we delivered in partnership with the Open Innovation Team, convening academic research experts in leadership and public administration. …

In which I return to weeknotes to aid self-reflection

A month since Series 2 ended on a cliffhanger, I’m back to typing out random thoughts in the form of a weeknote. Miss me…? At least one person did, and was kind enough to say so, to which I’ll return…

After a short break of a week or so, I returned to find much had changed again within and around my team. I’ve written before that more or less the only thing constant in the civil service, not least since I joined almost four years ago, is change. In this…

Where being included, in diverse ways, made me feel that I belong

Diverse views on inclusion, belonging — and of course cricket

No weeknotes for a couple of weeks, and with some leave coming up this feels like a good note to end this series on. Another reason for my recent hiatus has been my struggle to find the right words for what follows.

We’ve been talking about race at work. My colleague Jess suggested we start an article club to broaden our horizons, sharing with us an article on diversity issues and facilitating a discussion around it. We read…

Prateek Buch

Data nerd, policy wonk, devoted father, sport fiend. Not in that order. Opinions mine, unless borrowed. #OneTeamGov

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store