Week1 - Be more like Robbie
I’ve tried to write weeknotes on multiple occasions and failed. They always end up in the bin. I find writing hard and I find committing my own opinions and thoughts down is often followed by much self-doubt and anxiety that people will judge me as stupid, incompetent or arrogant. I always enjoy dipping into the weeknotes of others though and get lots from them (far too many people to list). I’ve always believed there is value in reflecting, sharing and being open. Reflection is not something I struggle with and it’s odd that in conversation I am prone to often over-sharing and extreme transparency (sorry colleagues!) but in written form I often can’t find my voice.
I’m more actively and purposefully trying to improve and grow at the moment so this is one area where I’m going to have to pull on my big boy pants, get over myself and take a leap of faith. I’m going to take inspiration from folks like Robbie Bates, rather than just use the great work of others as another opportunity to make silly comparisons that hold me back. I’m going to be more like Robbie (just less handsome..and more grumpy)! I’ll need to play with some different formats / styles and find a routine that works…but I will publish this.
Top 3 highlights
Time at home… This is super precious in my week as I spend much of it in London away from family and friends and recently the time I’ve had at home has also been impacted by trying to fit in study. I prioritised time with them last weekend and balanced this out by taking some leave to work on the latest assignment. We used the time wisely, got out and did a few fun things. I needed that more than I had realised.
Communities of Practice… Kiran ran a great session this week exploring how we can improve the synthesis of our research activities. I learnt some things and was good to hear lots of examples of great practice but also start unpicking the things that can sometimes prevent that being more consistently applied.
Kiran and I also got together to discuss outputs from a session I had run the week before. We want to more consciously and effectively join up our efforts across team disciplines with a view to improve our planning of user research, data analysis and exploring tech landscapes during discovery phases.
As FutureGov grows to increase our impact and our teams and CoPs scale it’s vital that we join the dots between them and become greater than the sum of our parts. It’s been nice this week to have some extra bandwidth to start doing that. I’m not sure Kiran was so lucky, but I was very appreciative of her time.
Learning… So I mentioned studying. I’ve been completing a course called ‘Better data, better decisions’ delivered by the super smart folks at the Open Data Institute. It’s great! A good balance of fairly open remote learning but the right amount of structure, practical assignments and deadlines to keep things moving and on track. It’s taken a fair amount of my time. On reflection I’ve probably put more time in than is expected but it’s a great opportunity to learn skills I’m interested in and I’ve long known were lacking in my toolbox. I’ve been keen to put in the extra effort to make the most of the content, concepts, tools and approaches that I’ve been introduced to.
This weeks assignment had me visualising data to tell a story around some Fire Service data we’d analysed in the previous week. Both my analysis, story and data viz skills will obviously need more practice but you can check out my efforts here if you’re interested. I’ve definitely learnt heaps in the last 4 weeks and looking forward to the last few. The assignment also gave me a nice excuse to put together ‘a thing’ and was the first time I’d fired up Cloud9 and made any GitHub commits in months. I found Tableau Public a little frustrating to get to grips with but following a few colourful words I wrestled it to a point where it was doing much of what I wanted. I’m adding exploration of some other tools into my backlog.
Things I’m learning
Health… Taking baby steps to get back to better health is paying off. It’ll take me longer but is more likely achievable given my split location living. This week I’ve not smoked and I’ve eaten sensible meals at sensible times. More breakfast meetings FTW!! (Thanks Adam and Emily)
Leadership… My passion and experience have more value than I may have appreciated and people often look to me for not only advice but direction. I need to accept this is increasingly part of my role and stop being surprised by it. Giving good advice and exploring options with people I find easy, direction is something I often poorly communicate or fumble… especially in writing. It’s something to work on. Equally mulling over the differences between good management and good leadership.
Strategy… Is not my enemy. Past negative experiences of poorly communicated and executed strategy have made it a dirty word in my head. I need to flip my mental model. Now more than ever I have the privilege to use my experience of delivery and what I’ve learnt from the mistakes I’ve witnessed to help shape strategy. It’s often necessary to align people, money and skills to deliver change in big, complex environments.