Weeknotes: week 21
I feel bad for missing a few weeknotes lately. My air source heating obsession got the better of me, but now I have faced my nerdiness, letting pass over me and through me, I am in a less geeky place. Kind of.
So what have I missed?
Well, I passed my probation. Which was nice. I mean, I didn’t manage to kill anyone, cause any fires or wipe our CMS so I figured I was probably OK. But it’s good to just see it written down. And I didn’t have to wear an ankle monitor either.
Actually, it was a really good experience — having a conversation with my manager about how I think I’ve done and where I think I am. Some nice positives to get that warm glow, but also some REALLY useful feedback to work on.
Looking back on my weeknotes, and taking on board the feedback, I’m now trying to listen to people more and ease off on injecting my reactions at the earliest opportunity — I can see this can put off people from having a conversation with me about a topic I have an opinion on.
This has already led to some really positive interactions, so this is a change I’m going to work at sticking to.
Getting to grips with our migration
Last week I went through a bit of a revelation with our progress on sprint planning and decided to move us from pure Agile to cracking on with some actual tasks. Going through user stories was useful in ensuring we were aiming for the right things, but it left the team a bit disengaged and confused. They (and I) seem to be much happier and engaged just doing.
Working on our first sprint together was great. Adding 80+ user accounts was smashed through in an hour by “Speedy Susie”, creating definitions for 11 content types was blitzed by Nat, and we spent a creative hour ironing out how consultations should operate in defining their acceptance criteria. It’s an odd sort of migration where we’re largely waiting on migrated pages to ‘drop’ on us — a far cry from being locked in a dark room, copying and pasting frantically.
We’ve now got daily standups with our Placecube playmates, and stuff is getting discussed there and resolved quickly. It’s great hearing the story behind the development of our bespoke migration tool; every day brings another mini-success. I’m seriously getting more excited each time we talk about it. I need to get out more….
We’re also working with Placecube’s new trainer, Grant, in testing out new approaches to learning delivery and coming up with topics for him to work on. I love this kind of creative partnership as both sides benefit. Huge credit to Placecube for recognising that their previous approach to training wasn’t hitting the mark and turning on a dime to resolve it in just weeks.
It was also great to finally get in touch directly with our countless (well, 97) web editors to let them know what is going on now that we’ve cleared our approach with our management team. The key message of ‘no content freeze’ has answered the key question they’ve been asking for weeks.
One of the changes we’re bringing in with the migration is utilising the design patterns developed by Placecube built on user research in other councils. As a council we started with the best intentions, but little by little concessions have been made on design to the point that it’s really hard to see commonality across different parts of the site.
As part of our #ContentDesignRevolution we’re getting back to those Digital Declaration principles of re-use rather than reinvent, so it was great to have the thumbs up from our management team about using standard patterns. We’d kicked around examples of where we had departed previously to find a common set of criteria, but there wasn’t any, and after some advice from our Technical Architect we’re adopting an ‘it’s standard unless there’s a reason’ approach, falling back to requiring a clear user need to be demonstrated.
My first conversation with a service team about applying this went really well this week; I’d expected (unfairly) some consternation and argument, but what I got was complete agreement, with them seeing the value of presenting a common design to users as being part of the wider council. Win!
Settling in to working from home
The anniversary of remote working has prompted a number of blog posts about people’s experiences (including a really positive one from our corporate director). But recently I’ve been dealing with the flipside; this isn’t going away anytime soon, and we’ve been working on temporary arrangements for too long.
People have been making do working in the space they could find, with the kit they could salvage all in the expectation that it could be ending soon. But now we have to move from a sprint to a marathon and plan for ongoing home working to make it safe and comfortable. So the shopping list has grown this week, but that’s a good thing. We need to recognise homes as workplaces, make them fit for purpose and support our colleagues through this ongoing change.
With the loss of an office in Dorchester and a change in the staff to desk ratio at County Hall when we do return (in whatever format) we are going to need to keep adapting and changing. For newbies like me it’s less of a wrench, but talking to the team there’s some love for the old office that they’ll no longer go back to.
Some other things that happened this week:
- More Dorset weeknoters have joined the cause, with Debs our corporate Director and Glen our ICT Ops Manager. A couple of my team have also started publishing weeknotes internally as a first step, and Claire published a killer follow-up post on content design.
- We’ve been doing homework as part of our shift to Product Ownership, with SWOT analysis of the skills we have/need for the full product area. It’s starting to reveal some interesting stuff
- First vaccine jab now out of the way, but I made a stupid decision to cycle to the appointment 14km away, along a muddy forest track and dealing with a road diversion.