Weeknotes S3 E8 2020

More lockdown, So little time, Not all doom and gloom, Low Code

A little bit more locked down

Following an uptick in Covid-19 cases we’ve had some restrictions re-introduced locally. In the main, it didn’t impact us too much other than the kids couldn’t physically see their grandparents for a while because we can’t leave the county.

Then our youngest developed a persistent cough, which we were pretty sure was a bog standard cold, but just to be on the safe side we self-isolated until we knew we were all clear. That was a tricky couple of days of being all stuck in the house and trying to live and work together! Fortunately test came back negative and we all resumed life as normal, well, as normal as it currently gets anyway.

It given me a bit of a perspective on how stop-starty life could be for a while. It’s entirely possible we’ll have to keep one child home if there’s a case in her class whilst the other can continue to go to school (which seems dubious) and the logistics of that, minus support from Grandparents could be a real challenge.

I hasten to add that we’re lucky. We have some flexibility. Many are not so lucky and are likely to be faced with some hard choices. It’s why it’s really important that there’s support from government for people to stay home if they need to and that employers are really held to account for only requiring people to come into an office if there’s a clear business need.

Related to that, if there ever was a perfect time to start experimenting with Universal Basic Income or Universal Basic Services, it was a few years ago. The next best time is now.

So little time

Definitely feeling the finite nature of the days and weeks at the moment as they whizz past. The last couple of weeks has featured some hard deadlines which perhaps amplified these feelings? Something to ponder further.

With a switch to more asynchronus modes of work and cutting out the commute, I’ve now got more time to do things. Perhaps more than ever before. The limitation I’m hitting now is really how long my attention span can hold out in order to remain productive. I’ve observed this can vary and it’s not always super obvious why.

Working from home, it’s hard to get a relative impression of how much work you’re doing. What is the norm right now? Most people seem to agree that it’s really busy at the moment. What’s driving that? Are we collectively spinning the metophrocial fly wheel faster? Is it internal or external factors? Both?

I can drive myself a bit batty about this stuff. Each week I try to identify some key things I want to tackle, usually connecting to a larger overarching peice of work. Sometimes progress comes easily, sometimes it’s like wading through treacle. It’s not always obvious at the outset which way the week will unfold. Hmm.. I wonder if I should start more closely recording this to see if there are any patterns?

Not all doom and gloom

When we first entered lockdown, I wrote some reflections on what I would change and what I would keep. With the prospect of things unlikely to change a while longer, I’ve been thinking again about how I feel now.

During the warmer weather, it was nice to sit in the shade in my own garden and plough on with work. That’s a stark contrast to sweaty crowded trains and a stifling office that gets slowly baked by the afternoon sun.

I do miss not being able to physically go to talks and events. Especially the smaller grass roots ones. They were a great way to catch up with people (often from Twitter) and have a general chat about goings on and trade stories. I’ve registered for loads of virtual events, but seem to struggle to find the time or attention to be present.

We have a team call every morning at 9am, and I join whilst walking back from the school after dropping the kids off. I found that walking, talking and thinking (and not staring at a screen) was actually a really nice change. More than anything, it stopped me feeling the urge to multi-task. As a person who has previously espoused a dislike of phone calls, this was a weird revelation. Perhaps it shows that I’m missing variety at the moment.

And speaking of school runs, it’s been nice to walk with the kids (and dog) to and from school during the week. I suspect it’ll be less nice when it’s raining horizontally, but generally it’s good to spend more time together and listen to the ups and downs that an eight and nine year old encounter. (There was a whole story about how a boy got hit so hard the crotch that he needed stitches.. I’m still unclear as to the veracity of this story)

I think it’s fair to say, it remains a mixed bag.

Low Code

We are officially headed down the Low Code route. <happy dance>

In an ideal world, there would be a range of software provided as a service that we could incorporate into our services. In reality, there are (big honking) gaps in the market for things that are properly designed for some of what we do. That’s where our Low Code platform comes in.

Low code is not a silver bullet (nothing ever is, right?). But it does give smaller organisations (like us) the capability to start building things that incorporate user needs. The trick will be to ensure that we avoid creating complexity. Knowing what not to build will likely be as important as what to build. As ever, I think there might be a Wardley map that could help point the way.

It’s still early days, but I look forward to getting stuck into this in the coming weeks and months.

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