Weeknotes S2 E5 2020

Hello! We’ve all navigated another week, which is nothing to be sniffed at at the moment.


Polly Thompson shared this image in our Slack team it really resonated with me.

I can see the signs of regression creeping into S2 E3’s Weeknotes. Having some sort of framework to talk about (or explain) why everything feels a bit tough or hard going at the moment is really helpful in a “oh, thank god it’s not just me” kind of way.

Small Incremental Change

Much of the work we’re doing at the moment is fairly chunky. The problem with that is that it takes a while to get to the point where value is delivered. I also presume that the larger the unit of change, the more uncomfortable/difficult it can be for people to absorb or work through it.

Some learning from some recent work that went quite well, and wasn’t so chunky.

  • Small & specific outcome which supports a broader overarching goal.
  • Time bound (2 weeks)
  • Capability to make the changes ourselves
  • Designed and implemented with colleagues who’d eventually use it.

I think this is a useful pattern to replicate. Unfortunately, at the moment not all of the tech we work with is amenable to this approach. But I think we’re moving in a direction where that will change.

This of course represents a more agile approach to work. I was reading this article over the weekend which talks about how culture still keeps eating agile strategies for breakfast. It’s heartening that making this switch can be a long game, especially if you want to make it stick.

Infinite Canvas

I had a go of using Miro this week to map out a process with some colleagues. In practice that meant screen sharing Miro via Google Meet and capturing the conversation as we stepped through the process.

Whilst I didn’t really get to use it in a collaborative manner, the infinite canvas in Miro proved to be very useful. It meant I could focus on capturing information rather than worry about fiddling with the formatting. I mentioned last week about needing the tech to shrink into the background of the conversation, and it definitely did that.

Miro is a great tool, but it’s not cheap, so I feel like I’d really have to lean into using more of the functionality to make it worth while. At the moment, between Google Jamboard and Drawings, I can pretty much get by as the drawer/mapper of things rather than collaboratively drawing/mapping things.

I also saw this Tweet which got me thinking about using Google Slides as a potential facilitation method as well.

Problem definitions

Reporting back on using this question set to better define problems.

It’s worked well where people arrive with most of the problem and a bit of solution. It’s worked less well where people arrive with most of a solution and a bit of the problem. I think with the latter, it’s because people are attuned to pattern matching and have a tendency to lock on to the first thing that seems like the right answer.

I hasten to add, I think problem definition can still help people who think they already have most of the answer, but it probably takes more effort to help them take a step back and re-evaluate. And of course you can’t discount the social dynamics at play of sometimes needing to be seen as moving forward & fixing stuff.

Trust vs Command & Control

I was listening to a podcast on the weekend talking about the debacle of recalling MP’s to parliament to vote when digital voting had been working quite well considering how quickly it was put in place.

So why would you prefer to have MP’s stand in a queue for 45 minutes per vote compared to 15 minutes normally or much less to vote digitally? Additionally, it means many MP’s miss votes because they are shielding due to underlying health conditions that they or family members have. It seems outright illogical on the face of it.

One speculated reason for this move is that the Government whips have been having a tough time of ensuring their MPs vote in the way they want them to vote, with many Conservative MPs rebelling against their own party line. In the normal run of things, when MPs are physically present the whips can apply pressure to ensure everyone tows the line.

Compare and contrast to an organisation you may have worked in previously! This reliance on brute forcing compliance from the top down in every aspect of work is what erodes trust and treats people like bad robots. This is one of the ways in which parliament exposes it’s archaic nature and where tradition gets in the way of doing things better. I wonder what we might learn from that?

The Pyramid of Belief

I’ve been reading a lot over the last few weeks about how people are trying to imagine the path for first emerging from lock down and then dealing with the (almost certain?) economic fallout.

What’s interesting about this variety of hot takes is that we all see different opportunities off the back of this very unusual disruption to life as normal. Our own hopes and desires reflected in what each of us think is best for the future.

I can see this playing out at both micro and macro levels. We’re all unlikely to agree on the same singular vision, so we’re going to need to do some digging to deconstruct what each of us think is blindly obvious to us, but totally wrong to someone else.

I’m reminded of Dave Gray’s pyramid of belief from Liminal Thinking.

Black Lives Matter

Anything I have to say on the shocking inequality that’s been laid bare seems insufficient. I have been thinking about how I can use my own privilege (which as a middle aged white dude, I have plenty to go ‘round) to amplify voices that have not been heard. Two things I spotted which have me thinking about how I can better educate myself and help others.

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