Weeknotes S01 Ep03

Bringing my full self to weeknotes.

I’ve had a tough week for a number of different reasons, which has meant that writing this week’s episode has been really difficult. Its taken me several days to write this (hence Sunday not Friday publishing) and, as I wrote some parts before Thursday, it might be a little disjointed; please bear with me.

It all passed in a bit of a fug. A mixture of small frustrations, meetings going awry, difficulty getting to the bottom of things, and a lack of sleep too. When I was in it, it felt bad. And, though writing this isn’t intended to be any kind of PR exercise, I did find that when I sat down there were positives in amongst it. That was good.

On Thursday I had some bad news. I include it here not because I’m comfortable with it, but because it has shaken my week and I think it’s important to bring your whole self to work. So, as I said above, this week I bring my whole self to weeknotes.


Monday started with low energy after an unsettled night’s sleep. Concentrating was difficult. And although I got some work done I didn’t feel very productive. I had a 1:1 with Olivia (Head of Engagement, Strategy and Governance – the BP part of my role) I answered some emails and in the afternoon I provided some feedback to the ABLE network on some ideas HR had given them relating to our diversity and inclusion strategy.

Tuesday we were due to do a Beta assessment in the morning but for varying reasons it couldn’t happen. It was disappointing as I was looking forward to it, though in retrospect it was for the best because I doubt that Luke and I really had the time to dedicate to it (especially to the write up which always take a lot longer than you think it will).

I didn’t sleep well again and I had a few more treasure hunts to go on, so I felt quite frustrated all day. I did have a chat with a stakeholder looking to buy a solution which could actually be met using our Google platform. We talked it through and he was happy that he would give it a try, so that was good.

In the afternoon I had my 1:1 with Luke and we acknowledged that we are both busy at the moment and that there are a few small frustrations this week. In the afternoon I created a template for proposals which will hopefully help us write them in a structured and standardised way, and I reviewed a user research workshop plan for Atique.

On Wednesday Luke and I delivered a “Best practice digital” workshop for a team who run a live service, this is a tool for Civil Servants but is in use by other government departments. They had to develop and get it off the ground quickly but now need to scale and are aware that some cracks are showing in their team set-up and processes.

The team were engaged and it felt good to develop a vision with them and talk about immediate steps they can take to start improving. Regardless of whether they take everything on board it felt good to deliver the session, and “build capability”.

Now that we have this template I hope we will be able to carry on with this and take it to more teams.

My Wednesday afternoon was booked solidly with meetings from 1–5pm. I had a meeting about a graduate placement recruitment sift that I’m helping with; this has been arranged with the BAME community to make sure that it’s as inclusive as possible. I also had a meeting with the ABLE network – which always feels productive and genuinely makes me really happy. And finally, a meeting about Diversity Day with HR and the other networks. That was great, with lots of new faces and lots of energy in the room.

On Wednesday Dan Barrett asked the weeknoters on Twitter if we fancied a meet up. I really do. I feel like I know everyone already. Louise Cato did a Doddle poll, so I hope this will happen soon.

On Thursday morning I met with a colleague to describe what the BPs do. This colleague is thinking about applying for the B2 BP role we are going to be recruiting soon. I explained the ins and outs and the opportunities as I see them. It felt good to find out about someone else’s aspirations. I also made sure I mentioned about the importance of flexible working, part-time and how we manage our work, they told me that they’re always worried about asking that question, that’s something that needs to change. I’m glad I remembered to say it. It’s easy to forget to be explicit and to think that things go without saying. They don’t.

I had a call with a team who are hoping to run a pilot using an off the shelf solution. It’s a native app and that’s out of policy for digital work, so although the conversation was constructive it is unlikely to get approval under GDS spend controls. I also have real concerns around it from an accessibility perspective.

Sometimes it’s hard because you feel like a team’s motivations for doing something are sound, but the details are problematic. It’s difficult when you can see the bigger picture from a technology perspective and you know that there will be wide-reaching implications of doing something, that an approach isn’t sustainable.

On Thursday early afternoon I had a call from my mum in the middle of the day, so I knew immediately that something was wrong because she never does that. My grandma wasn’t going to make it. It was a shock because she had been much better recently, so I wasn’t expecting it.

I stayed at work for a little while because I had some calls to do and it was a distraction, I stayed for our scrum of scrums team meeting and then went home.

I tried, but there’s just no way you can concentrate when something like that happens. I don’t know what more to say about it except that, again, this made me so grateful for my team. It also brought home to me what bringing your whole self to work means — everyone at some point will need the support of their colleagues because you just don’t know when life might come crashing at you, even when you’re at work. I’m seriously so glad I work with these guys.


Things I’ve been thinking about this week.

  1. To quote myself above “It’s easy to forget to be explicit and to think that things go without saying. They don’t.”
  2. This:

Till next week.

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