Monthly Archives: December 2022


I’ve got some quite tricky blogposts to write over the next little while. There’s obviously the “DIT wrapped” post to do – which will largely be adapted/redacted from an internal goodbye email I wrote last Friday. But mainly I need to be thinking about the big reset – rebuilding myself after getting pretty burnt out. The burnout is not necessarily a feature of where I’ve been working, but more the challenges that came from a particular sequence of roles, each never quite giving me a chance to recover. I mean I learned a lot, and got a lot done, but (in hindsight) owwwww.

As anyone who’s worked with me knows, I tend to put a lot of myself into both the work and the people I work with – which helps get fabulous results, and is one of the reasons I am often around for a lot longer than other contractors – but I’m now having to deliberately focus just on myself. And that’s a mode of existence that’s rusty, to say the least. And a bit embarrassing and uncomfortable to boot.

I’m expecting to be starting work again some time during February, depending on a few conversations that are happening at the moment – so how can I best use the time to rebuild and refresh?

I know there are a few other long-tenure contractors who might be facing some similar challenges at some stage (although I hope not for ages), so thought it was worth sharing a few of my ideas.

The physical

I’ve got a bit “inside my head” as a result of the last while, and this hasn’t been helped by a running injury in late September that it’s taken me ages to get over. But it’s time to address a bit of all that.

  • Running or cycling a couple of times per week
  • Getting outside for over half an hour on the other days to see fresh air and daylight
  • Finding places to be/think/write that aren’t pubs – lovely as they are
  • Going through the vast pile of cookbooks to find some more interesting and healthy options for meals. We’d definitely fallen back on some comfort-food staples.
  • Have baths and read
  • Twenty minutes of meditation a day – it’s only after fifteen minutes that I really make progress and there’s not been time for that for a while
  • Sort out my posture – I’ve been slumped over laptops and keyboards for too long, so it’s off to Tammy the osteopath, and starting to use my standing desk more often. Also, not slouching at the piano!
  • Sleep. Whenever. I remember Vicky reading in one of her ante-natal books “why stand when you sit, why sit when you can lie down”. This is probably the most important one of all.

The creative and cultural

  • Start turning some of the last few years into songs – even if they never get put on soundcloud. This will also involve…
  • Rebuilding my production workflow habits. I’ve got incredibly rusty at my various bits of studio tech, and every time I fire up Ableton Live feels like I’m learning it all over again. There was a point where I was really quick at moving things around, using my Push2 rather than a mouse, diving between the audio and midi domains. So I’m going to start back at the beginning of a bunch of tutorials and see where each takes me.
  • Practing keyboard technique for an hour a day – on some new(ish) pieces. I’ve been having piano lessons again for the last few months, mainly picking up some of my favourite Debussy pieces (Sarabande, Claire de Lune, Girl with the Flaxen Hair – you know the sort of thing). I’ve got so much out of diving deep into those, and fixing some age-old problems I’ve found. But the sort of practice I now need to be doing isn’t necessarily great for others to be around, and I need to broaden where I’m getting inspiration. And the types of musicianship I’m developing. So it’s time for some classic learner pieces from Bach, Schubert, Beethoven and Chopin – but also looking at some of my modern anthologies and Howard Skempton pieces.
  • Learning the modular system even better, and not being scared to press record. There are a ton of modules I barely understand – bought at times of great optimism, but little spare time. Thankfully with my new Mordax Data oscilloscope thing, I can get a much better sense of how and why they work. I’ve found trying to recreate everything in a tutorial like Divkid’s youtube video on Mutable Instruments’ Beads granular synthesis module can take me off in all sorts of interesting new directions. But it can be very easy to get caught up in sound design alone – falling back in the “vertical writing” I’ve traditionally found hard to escape in packages like ProTools, Cubase or Logic. One perfect 16-bar loop – and no way out. Live’s two-axis improvisational workflow is something of a relief from that when working with vocals or software instruments, but the modular rig can end up with me chasing perfection, rather than thinking about dynamics and evolution. Thankfully disk space is cheap and I’ll be able to pick out the good bits later. “Write drunk, edit sober” as the saying goes.
  • Pick up some of the other instruments I’ve got hanging around. It’s been a long time since I touched the guitar, or bass, or ukulele, or accordion, or penny whistle, or bodhran, or… (And I’d quite like to be able to competently play the bassline to “Christmas Wrapping” by next December)
  • Sing more. In the run up to my 50th gig, I actually got my vocals half-decent and largely in tune. That’s all rotted now, but it would be fab to not need Melodyne to fix things. And to feel confident in the textures or material I’m bringing quickly into Ableton when I’m in the flow state. Bizarrely I find writing with my voice actually easier than working with keyboards. So there should be a whole heap of happy accidents if I can fix some fundamentals in that area.
  • Get out to a few more gigs and concerts. I’ve got some stuff booked already – Hannah Peel, Art of Noise etc – but I think I need a few completely different experiences.
    • And yes, possibly going to see the Abba show again. If anyone else is interested.
  • See more theatre. Again, there’s stuff booked, but I think my storytelling will improve if I’m not just immersed in the current music habits.
  • Watch a far greater proportion of the BAFTA films – ideally all of the round 3 ones. Again, this will be good for inspiration/alternative contexts, but also this bit of ‘time off’ gives me a rare chance to go really deep. I will be nice not have to abstain on any categories because I didn’t watch everything due to work pressures.
  • Finish a few more games. Even if it means restarting them. Yes, I’m looking at you, “Ratchet and Clank: a Rift Apart”. You’re bloody amazing, and I will get to the end this time.

The recontextualising

I’m very lucky that I’ve got a house with enough bedrooms for us not to be falling over each other, and a studio that (for a month) I can leave set up just how I like it. But it’s also a place I’ve been working for years since covid hit – and I could probably do with a more substantial change of scene.

  • the coast
  • the countryside
  • staying – without the rest of the family – at my parents
  • getting away with Vicky
  • train journeys
  • visiting friends I’ve not seen for ages – in Glasgow, Bristol, Sussex, Cheltenham
  • maybe all of that but including different countries. Paris? New Orleans?

AirBnB are likely to do quite well out of me. But that’s what all the saving up was for.

The scholarly

I’ve got a LOT of books about different aspects of the work I do. Some I’ve completely finished, many are about two-thirds read, and a huge pile were never started – and lurk at me from the bookshelves making me feel guilty. But one of the fabulous aspects of the training I do for Mind the Product is that it gives me an incentive to pick off a few more of these each time. Or to review old classics and see how I feel about them. But it’s always the tip of the iceberg…and somehow new books keep arriving. It’s time to try and make a proper dent in it at last.

That’ll probably lead to more blogging in its own right as I synthesise some of what I’ve been learning.

Plus there’s the “aaNewsletters” folder in my inbox where everything goes. John Cutler, Dan Hon, Marginalia, Sam Lowe, Steven Johnson etc etc. Time to process and digest.

Plus all the fiction of course. Which will be LOVELY.


Yeah, OK, there’s also the times when I won’t be feeling like I can do all these virtuous things. In fact, there’ll be times when I literally don’t want to do any of them. And that’ll be fine. But I’m lucky that there are some really purposeful task-based activities lurking in the background:

  • finally fixing our magimix after a load of lemon-and-sugar mixture got into the buttons at the front when we were making lemonade – at last they’ll no longer stick. Or we’ll have to get a new magimix because I’ve broken it properly at last.
  • tidying out the cellar so it’s not just piles of random crap, interspersed with random boxes of wine
  • self-assessment – will HMRC owe me money? Will I owe them? I’ve literally no idea.
  • organising the storage area next to the studio that never recovered from lockdown, and I still can’t easily retrieve the commuting bike from. If I find any remaining bread flour, sadly it’ll have to go in the bin. Along with some kids inflatables we definitely no longer need.
  • actually designing how we’re going to store all the tools/chemicals/compost/trugs in the garden shed so it’s not just shoved in randomly.
  • clearing all the piles of paper out of the teetering “in tray” and filing them at last in the storage area mentioned previously
  • taking a ton of old books to the charity shop

But then, I only have January (and possibly a bit of Feb)

Prioritising all this is going to be key. There are loads of good things I can combine – reading in the bath, writing music on trains to friends, singing while walking etc etc – but everything above is still too much to take on, when the whole point is that I’m trying to relax and recover.

Which is BY FAR the main thing.

So I’ve decided to view the above as a series of hypotheses of activities which may or may not help me meet those goals of

  • feeling DIT is behind me
  • feeling like I’m ready for the next thing
  • not resenting the next thing for taking me away from things I’d liked to have done more

And I’m planning to start each day saying “based on how I’m feeling today, which things are most likely to get me closer to that goal”. And at the end of the day, asking if it did. That way I’m not going to just fill the time with other projects that’ll make me as stressed as being at work, nor will I just drift. And hopefully I’ll spend at least a month proactively re-learning a lot more about what makes the core of me truly happy.

If it’s merely “being right about OKRs done well” I guess I can probably settle for that. (At which the entire DIT product and delivery communities smile wryly).

Cultural runway

I’ve been very aware that next year could involve a wee bit of hanging about, and I didn’t want to have nothing to look forward to while I wait. This last year has had a lot of music and theatre and film – and I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t lose any momentum on that because I get too cautious about spending money on frivolities.

So here’s what I’m currently going to see in Jan and Feb:

  • Art of Noise at the Jazz Cafe
  • Punchdrunk’s The Burnt City
  • Meryl Pugh talking about her book Feral Borough, which is set here in Wanstead
  • Hannah Peel playing “Fir Wave” at Kings Place

Further out I’ve got Sparks in May and Peter Gabriel in June.

Sadly I didn’t manage to get any tickets for My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican before they sold out, but I’m going to see if I can get day tickets for Daisy and I before she heads off back to UEA. I’d also like to see Gecko’s latest play “Kin” while it’s on in Norwich, but that’s not until March.

But I’m still looking for other ideas for cool or curious things to do. So any suggestions welcome.

Weeknote 18th December 2022

An odd and multifaceted week. Endings are coming closer. Some options for new beginnings too. A lot of other transitions too.

I’ve taken a massive back seat on my final project at DIT, so the team can see how they do without me – and find any gaps they need to fix. No going to standups or planning meetings, and also letting them handle stakeholder metings. The only exception was going to their fortnightly presentation to our senior management team – so I could see how they brought the threads of the work together without me.

It was an interesting exercise. On some aspects it highlighted my own high production values around these things – which is kind of ‘part of the service’. But also there were a few gaps – thankfully we’ve got a week left to tweak the few key bits that are less about personal taste and more around making sure we can get signoff and a clear runway for the team in the new year.

I’ve been trying to follow the “lead by context” ideas used at Netflix, and create slide decks for the teams saying “this is why we thought pursuing [problem x] was a good idea, these are the artefacts you’ll need to understand how the business has tried to solve this problem before, here are some known landmines, and here are the biggest unknowns”.

I’ve also been going through my onedrive and googledrive, finding things that might be useful for our product community’s posterity. Old slide decks and documents that I thought were “best practice” so teams didn’t have to reinvent the wheel the next time they’re creating a vision, or a product strategy, or making the case to fund a beta. Also lots of the training materials from prior community sessions. The greatest hits of nearly four years in an organisation.

I had my last face to face ‘one to one’ meeting with my boss Miranda – and we actually ran out of things to talk about, because there aren’t new things to start.

I variously said goodbye to a bunch of colleagues who were finishing for Christmas on Thursday and Friday. Some lovely and kind things were said/emailed/messaged. Might have needed a few deep breaths before I went onto the next meeting.

Next step – leaving drinks on the 12th January. (Trying to book anywhere this side of Christmas is a nightmare). Loads of people are coming – we’ve had to increase the space in the venue. I’m hugely touched by everyone making the effort.


  • Some good conversations about what’s next. One tempting option fell through, but I’m glad they’ve got someone that’s an even better fit – and I won’t be sad about the Large Commute
  • Lovely evening seeing Robin Ince and countless lovely science/comedy/music people and “Nine Lessons for Curious people”. Wonderful to see old friend Ben Moor talking about 20 years of the cumberland lawn frisbee tree golf club
  • Wonderful chat with Victor about opportunities with startups and creating music
  • Picked up Daisy from UEA – five hours of driving was a lot, but it’s fab to have her home.
  • Watched the new ‘Matilda’ – which is very charming
  • Loved settling into the modular system using my Mordax Data to understand more about what’s really going on with it. But also thinking I’m soon going to be wanting to overtly write more, and discover less
  • Realised that I’m very tired – and actually having a very minimum of January off is an unbelievably good idea. Not least to watch a ton more films, and play with some of this lovely music gear, and read some of these books.

Next week’s is going to be really weird – as DIT will be over. So many fabulous people to miss. Sigh.

Weeknote 10th December 2022

I’m starting to let go of this place now.

Old Admiralty Building – DIT HQ

It’s not often you get to work in somewhere quite so iconic. This is where Ian Fleming had his office. And look – you can see more of it in the film “Operation Mincemeat” with some famous people!

(Thanks for cropping and grading this so nicely, The Guardian. Don’t Colin Firth and Johnny Flynn look handsome in front of OAB? Not sure what’s going on with Matthew McFayden’s moustache though.)

It turns out that – after four years – letting go of the job and the role is considerably easier than letting go of some of the people. Was sitting in the pub after an awayday on Wednesday, just watching two colleagues bantering about nonsense – and found myself welling up at how much I was going to miss everyone. And they weren’t even in the list of ones I already knew I was going to miss. So god knows how I’m going to get through any form of leaving do.

Had to commit to a venue for that as well. Decided to go for “the place nearly everyone has their leaving do” because a) the acoustics aren’t terrible, b) every few hundred yards extra to travel probably means we lose ten percent more people. However this also meant answering the question “how many people do you think will come” – which is just about the worst thing to ask someone with crippling impostor syndrome. Ho hum.

In other news:

  • Started to much more proactively hand over the current project to the person who’s taking it forward. In effect this means Stopping Going To Every Meeting, and waiting for DMs instead.
  • Continued to refine our product strategy and roadmap, but only from a storytelling viewpoint – the actual product choices aren’t really mine to make now.
  • Completed an annoying thing that’s been on my to-do list for nearly six months – updating the internal reference list of all the services we run, for cross-referring against other stuff on our internal data platform. This meant bringing together the previous quickly-hacked-together list someone created from memory, with everything in our Live Operations team’s runbook, but also some critical services we run that nobody really notices because they’re “Just Content”. It was nice thinking through “what actually counts as a service”, but also leaving the work in a good place for Jukesie to own from now.
  • Had an interesting awayday with all the Product and Delivery folk. In the middle we had to break for ‘huddle’ which is our weekly team internal comms session. I’d turned up with various bits of kit to make that work well remotely – jabras, external webcams, gorillapods etc – and was so busy worrying about that holding up for the boss that I barely took in her telling everyone about me leaving. It was an oddly out-of-body experience.
  • We also heard the sad news that service designer Jamie Freeman had died of brain cancer over the weekend – this cast quite a long shadow over huddle as well. He was a lovely person, and also an amazing musician. RIP sir. Much love.
  • Had two chats about new jobs, and a formal interview for one of them. I’ve got another chat about something next week which might be a bit too “big IT” for me, but let’s see.
  • Ready for the January of music, I took delivery of a wonderful gadget for my modular synth setup – a Mordax Data. This allows you to inspect all the voltages in your system, so you can truly understand what’s going on. When you’ve got some pretty ‘deep’ sound sources and processors, like I have, everything can be a bit “poke around and hope” so this is going to be like having a Haynes manual – helping me truly master some of the beast.
Mordax Data – on the left – alongside a whole pile of things I barely understand, but soon will.

One of the stranger things to happen was that I got asked if I was interested in joining the board of a startup. I’m really flattered, but don’t actually know what to do next. Presumably one has responsibilities, and gets money, and needs to make time – but how do you find out whether the company is a good one to get involved with? How do you make sure you’re not about to get yourself into trouble? Any pointers from anyone who’s done it would be very welcome.

Everyone in the audience is currently feeling seen.

And last thing – had a lovely night at the Wanstead Tap with Adrian Chiles talking about learning to love drinking less. It was an incredibly though-provoking hour, which venue owner Dan hosted brilliantly. We’ve got the book, and I’ll probably do a proper post about it later, but some key miscellaneous takeaways:

  • If you drink a lot, you tend to assume everyone else does, but actually 70% of people drink less than the recommended units per week.
  • Someone who goes out and drinks enormously every time it’s the football may never actually drink during the week.
  • The best drink is the first drink, maybe the second, and after that all you’re doing is chasing the dream.
  • NYE and Christmas are terrible times for big drinkers, because it’s when the amateurs get involved.
  • But the fact that the amateurs end up in a bad way, and you’re the one helping them into a taxi, is possibly more of an indication that you need to rethink your own life.

And now, it’s time to pop out to a lovely local wine bar that closes forever tomorrow. *sniff*.

A weekish-note – 3rd December 2022

Daisy and Milo decorating the tree. While V and I drink fizz.

I’ve been nudged by into starting to do weeknotes by Matt Jukes, my successor at DIT, after a big DDaT awayday where he took a lead on two of the sessions and talked about how more people should be doing this. I’ve realised I’ve become increasingly worried about the amount of my digital outboard brain that’ll evaporate if Twitter does finally go up in smoke, plus if this gets a few other team members comfortable with the weeknote format it’ll have been worthwhile.

Admittedly I started this post on Friday, just as a set of headings, and almost immediately had to DM Jukesie and say “oh, that’s why I’ve been knackered then?” Apparently that’s a side benefit!

I’ve also long been a fan of journalling gratitude/small victories, following Laurie Santos’ rather excellent ‘Science of Wellbeing’ free online course about happiness. There’s a tiny notebook by my bed for noting things that went well or I enjoyed – but since the summer it’s been rather neglected. So perhaps I can kickstart noticing more of the good things, alongside the wry takes on what’s been going less well. There’s been no shortage of Real Life going on since June-ish, and I’ve rather dropped the ball. Anyway, “we are where we are” now…so where is that?

Work things

  • I had the last day of running the Mind the Product Leadership course with Bea Kovacs/Barker. Every time I do courses with her I learn more about the art of teaching Product things well.
    In theory this was a much easier week, because there wasn’t a ton of slides and content to learn. However, week 4 is several hours of freeform “dear group, we’ve covered the core content, what else should we talk about?” As a result, there’s a fair bit of pressure on us as trainers. But I’ve really loved working with this group as they came out of their shells since week one. And the course is a really good excuse to delve into the scholarly side of Product Craft. Lots of reading that’s been on the to-do list for ages, or in some cases the “should really read this again” list. On which note:
  • I read Tendayi Viki’s “Pirates in the Navy” which is a nice tract about sustainable intrapreneurship, and all the ways that innovation units can fail in large organisations. Some of it felt like a positive throwback to the Fictionlab mantra of “innovation in the mainstream” in the early 2000s, but I also recognised some of the political traps that led to my problems there, at MTV and particularly ITV. And of course it was great to feel the presence of lovely Sonja Kresojevic behind much of it.
  • Continued updating the DIT CRM product strategy, adding in a set of ‘even over’ statements that felt like tangible things we could use as principles with the teams, and validate with stakeholders. e.g. “we currently value more targetted working of our frontline staff to get greater economic outcomes, even over fixing rekeying data for backoffice staff to increase admin efficiency”. Lots of really good structural thinking brought together, even if it was more of a slidument than I’d have liked.
  • Presented it to our SMT – along with the draft 18 month roadmap as a ‘worked example’ of the product strategy. This, sadly, didn’t down as well as I’d thought it would. Lots of questions, lots of divergent suggestions, not very much saying that the work was any good. Was quite dejected afterwards. But colleagues pointed out that the strategy was largely agreed – it was just the actual roadmap aspect where there was a lot of disagreement. So I’ve started going round individual SMT members saying “and what were you expecting from this roadmap thing anyway” which will hopefully bring it together next week.
  • Big awayday. Being in a room with about 200 other people was loud and draining. Really good sessions on things like storytelling and burnout. I found the burnout one particularly hard, as the stories told felt like layers of the last four years. I realised that I’d been getting more and more run down on each bit of work, and then to counteract the burnout from that I’d find a new project to pour myself into – and sometimes those projects were teams or people. Which it’s even harder to disengage from when things go awry. Lots to think about on the back of that.
  • A few people have already shared my blog post about ‘what I’m looking for in my next role’ which has led to a few interesting approaches already. Thank you everyone. All LinkedIn shares or even recommendations are very welcome. Particular shout outs to Matt Jukes for including a link and kind words in his weekly digital public service jobs newsletter. You should subscribe to it if you haven’t already.
  • Sat on some interview panels for Content Leads. It was nice to use some different bits of my brain.
  • Applied for a job.

Home things

Went to a lovely gig at Islington Assembly Hall with my percussionist/TechArch friend Steve. A silly but lovely modern progrock band called Frost*, who combine glitch etc with classic Genesis vibes. There was a Casio VL-Tone solo.


Support was from a lovely two-piece called Quantum Pig, featuring my friend Mark Stevenson on vocals. His fabulous book An Optimist’s Tour of the Future has been bought and given away sooo many times, so it was lovely to see him doing something else. In a Carl Sagan t-shirt.

Quantum Pig

I did lots of piano practice, just in case someone at the work awayday spotted a piano and tried to get me to play something. That bullet was dodged, but the work led to a really good piano lesson on Saturday, getting into some really interesting new nuances of some current pieces I’m working on.

Saturday was stupidly busy in other ways:

  • Rearranging our little loft storage space to find the decorations
  • Picking up the christmas tree
  • Doing lightly-worrying things to my right thumb with a saw while trying to get said tree safely into the stand
  • Picking up Daisy from Stratford bus station
  • Dragging everyone to Prezzo in Chingford, wherre we were eating dinner before…
  • Watching Vicky’s choir performing Mozart and Haydn
  • Then decorating the tree – assisted by kids and cats, and quite a lot of fizz.
Finished xmas tree. Ooooh.
Special helper.

Today’s been about roast dinner, and prepping mentally for the week ahead, where I have to start disengaging from DIT and creating a vacuum. Tomorrow also brings a concert at St john’s Smith Square – Rach 2, among other things, which should be rather a treat.

But yeah, no wonder I’m tired.

This is for everyone (updated)

UPDATE: this story reads really well, but it turns out the start isn’t actually true. Actually, James Darling was the first person to spot this at MOJ, and I was just carrying the flag without realising. Memories, eh?

For most of the early part of my career, I worked in the private sector. Even when I was at the BBC ’97-’02 it was pretty flush. Yes, Jon Drori’s “cost per user hour” comparison against telly made me feel a bit guilty about how many streets-worth of licence fees I might be gambling on some new interactive format, but I hoped innovative new ways to engage an untapped audience would eventually fix all that. So I didn’t really notice the ambient pampering – and it was nothing compared to the offices I’d worked in before…or would go on to work in. (Yes, you, AKQA)

These days all public institutions have to be much more careful with their money. It needs to go on the things that really matter – public services, being delivered as efficiently as possible. Not luxuries.

This can lead to some fascinating cultural contradictions. And – for most of the time I’ve been inside government – I’ve been fighting a quiet war against one of them.

You see, civil servants have values and behaviours they’re supposed to live up to. Hearing the voices of others, working together, seeing the big picture – that sort of thing. Where you really need to know that you’re all in it together as colleagues. There’s nothing stopping that tight-knit collaboration. Particularly if you’re trying to work as high-functioning multidisciplinary teams with high levels of psychological safety.

So I was slightly aghast when – many years ago – I first went into a civil service kitchen, opened the fridge, and found a vast array of small milk cartons all with individual initials on them.

It was like being back in a student flat. I had flashbacks to the “who stole my milk” arguments, horrendous bulging cartons from people who’d gone on holiday, and someone putting green dye in their milk out of sheer defiance.

I just couldn’t understand it. I mean, that’s not 100% true. I could totally understand it. Public money is precious. You don’t want to waste it on fripperies. But you’re effectively reinforcing a weird niggling individualism with every cuppa.

And I thought “This is insane. This shouldn’t be just one more big of grit people have to put up with when they’re worrying about fixing the justice system or reducing reoffending rates. I’m paid pretty decently as a contractor. I can possibly fix this.”

So I went out to the corner shop and bought two large cartons of semi-skimmed milk, took them back up to the kitchen, got a sharpie and wrote “for everyone” on them. And every few days – when it got low – I’d do it again. Because, you know, milk is pretty cheap – particularly compared to the staff cost of loads of individual people having to get into a lift down twelve floors, through security, out to the shop and back again. If someone’s only on £10 an hour, and it takes ten minutes, that’s £1.66 spend on “popping out”- so you’ve actually lost money by not buying them the milk. And we were quite senior people!

I carried on doing this at GDS, up until we introduced the milk club there, and then picked it up again at DIT when we were all in Windsor House. Every so often I’d head out, get as much milk as I could carry (this was quite important, given the cost of *my* ten minutes), and bring it back up to the fridge for all my digital colleagues.

And now we’re in a new building, in a hybrid environment with fewer staff in the office, so the milk lasts a lot longer – but it’s still going on.

Some milk, in a fridge, with the words "for all" written on the side.

And you know what – it really works.

I’ve had people catch me putting it in the fridge in the morning, writing on the side and saying “oh you’re the ‘milk for everyone’ person; the other day we were just saying how great this was and how it had helped us out”. And best of all – sometimes I’m out of the office for longer than I’d planned, I’ll come back and find someone else has done the same thing. Just because it’s a nice thing to do for everyone, at very low cost, and leaves a tiny bit of delight that enables a slightly kinder culture – particularly when people are already working on challenging stuff.

So please, if you’re in one of those types of civil service offices – quietly break the cycle. I promise you it works. And you won’t have to do it forever.