A user manual for Neil (2019 Edition)

This is a user manual for working with me.

It’s a way of conveying to others how I prefer to work. This is particularly useful when working with people for the first time or perhaps working more closely than you’ve done so before.

This concept is taken from a post by Cassie Robinson. that can be found here: https://medium.com/@cassierobinson/a-user-manual-for-me-d3a851fbc694

This is not a list of demands. As Cassie puts it..

“.. not all your needs and preferences can be met, but there is still value in making them explicit for those you work with.”


Conditions I Like To Work In

  • I value openness, trust, inclusiveness, patience and flexibility.
  • For deep work and problem solving, I initially like to work alone until I’ve wrapped my brain around the issue, preferably in a quiet spot.
  • I need time to process input — so if I’m in a meeting and not saying much, it might just mean I’m ordering my thoughts. Ideally you’ll allow me to summarise my feedback later on.
  • I quite like working in different places to inspire different mindsets. As long as it’s comfortable (I can’t deal with heat) and relatively interruption free, I’ll work anywhere that I can plonk my laptop down.

The Times/Hours I Like To Work

  • For things which require laser focus, I tend work best between 7am — 11am and then (oddly) 7pm-11pm.
  • Avoiding the peak daily commuting crush generally puts me in a better head space.
  • I’ve got two children under 8 so appreciate being able to balance my passion for work with my passion for family life.

The Best Ways To Communicate With Me

  • In the main I prefer asynchronous communication (Twitter, email, messaging) as it enables me to better manage my time between doing and communicating.
  • I prefer shorter, frequent, purposeful meetups & chats over longer, infrequent, fuzzy ones. 🙂
  • Where things are complicated or complex, I appreciate having things written down or visually mapped out. I’m happy to do this together to help reach a shared understanding.

The Ways I Like To Receive Feedback

  • I like feedback! I frame most things as a learning opportunity so appreciate pointers so I can improve, adapt or discard.
  • Dismissiveness, indifference and apathy drive me nuts… because I can’t learn from them.
  • I’ll take feedback in any medium you’re kind enough to provide it. I’d prefer an in-person discussion so I can ask questions and speed up the feedback loop.

Things I Need

  • A clear mission or overarching purpose… the more audacious the better.
  • Space and time to think.
  • Some room to experiment, play and innovate.
  • Evidence of progress, no matter how small.
  • Regular contact with positive people who want to make things better.

Things I struggle With

  • Anything arbitrary in nature. If I can’t understand the need or purpose of it, I’ll really struggle with enthusiasm to work with it or on it.
  • Re-treading old ground / repeating the same mistakes.
  • The routine and the mundane (broadly speaking anything that could be reliably automated with a little effort).
  • The creation of OR participation in.. negativity, bullshit, office politics & needless bureaucracy.

Things I Love

  • Using technology for social good.
  • Experimenting with modern ways of working and organising.
  • Making things open to make them better.
  • Taking the theoretical, abstract and ambiguous and making sense of it.
  • Listening to and learning from others.
  • Connecting the dots.
  • Teams & organisations that embody any/all of the above.

Other Things To Know About Me

  • I’m team focused and will actively recognise and celebrate individual and collective success. In contrast, I’m much less likely to outwardly recognise or celebrate my own successes.
  • I’m generally curious about things and I like to ask lots of questions. You may find this frustrating if detail isn’t your thing!
  • I’m an introvert at heart, but my desire to speak to interesting people and do interesting stuff often overrides it. I will however require periods of solitude to recharge my battery.
  • I walk a fine line between stubbornness and tenacity. If you catch me banging my head against the very same wall, please ask if I need help. 🙂

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