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.

Frost*

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.

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