Weeknotes S4 E1 2020

I can’t think of a pithy subtitle.

I’ve been doing/thinking about…

Well… I’ve not been doing weeknotes. I lost my weeknote mojo for a little while. But it seems to have returned for the moment, for which I’m glad.

This week I’ve been learning about Equality Impact Assessments. Some more reading here if you’re interested. I’d not come across this approach before, but it struck me that there was quite a lot of similarity between this and the sorts of things we might be considering as part of user centred design. Albeit, EqIA’s are focused on protected characteristics rather than the framing of something like personas. They don’t appear to mutually exclusive concepts though. I was idly pondering if some sort of ‘canvas’ might be a useful way for colleagues to consider how a change (to a policy.. or a service) might impact different people. And, as with anything that involves humans that is inherently complex, the best way to tackle it is perhaps an open and iterative approach.

This week I have also been frustrated with suppliers. I should really start recording how much time I spend chasing to get what seem like relatively simple requests moved along. This is normally bad systems and/or bad business models that make this stuff much harder than it needs to be. It creates so much intertia and this is evidenced by how swiftly things can progress when we don’t have to seek external support or expertise. There’s definitely something to be said for having clear sight of the blockers and the ability to remove them. I feel I should caveat this rant by acknowledging there are good suppliers out there who have mature polished products and internal expertise, although sadly it’s a minority.

I decided to double down on my home working setup this week by adding an additional monitor and a whiteboard to my very small broom cupboard that doubles as an office. I felt somewhat guilty adding a third monitor to my setup which already looks like a prop from The Matrix, but it was borne from frustration of doing several bits of work where I need to compare two or more documents + have a video call open + take notes. I’ll write up my logic for how I use the screen for different workflow if anyone is interested. I think the whiteboard purchase came from a yearning to get back to physically writing/drawing things after working with digital tools for a while. I mean, obviously the digital version is easier to share and collaborate on, but I’ve situated the whiteboard behind me so theoretically I could use it on video calls with colleauges. And to be honest, sometimes I just want to noodle around to draw things out myself. Could end up not using it all that much, but it was worth a £20 punt.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be ‘safe and happy’ in your work. Being ‘safe’ for me correlates with psychological safety. Which means that people are prepared to be vulernable and take risks together because a cetrain level of trust exists. ‘Happy’ is something I feel more conflicted about. I feel like the happiness that is marketed to us most frequently looks and feels more like excitement. If I look back and think of the times that work has been challenging but rewarding, I would not say that I was happy. At the time I’d say it was frustrating beccause I was most likely working at the edge or just beyond my comfort zone. I might feel happy upon reflecting on that challenge, knowing that I was pushing myself to do something difficult but worthwhile and I came out of the other side having learned something and grown.

I seem to have been talking a lot about Eisenhower Matrix’s lately. It’s something I use to help sooth my brain when I feel like I’m starting to fall into the trap of timeslicing between different things because in my head the all need doing NOW. I’ve also used it recently with colleagues to help reach a shared understanding of what really is important & urgent. This helpfully goes both way, so I was able to gain an awareness of work that wasn’t an emergency at the moment, but might be if we delayed working on it for more than a day or so.

I’ve been reading / listening to / watching…

I’m a bit of a productivity nerd, and love hearing about how other people bring order and calm to their day. So I really enjoyed this post from Simon Wilson.

As I’ve been thinking about psychological safety, I went digging through my bookmarks to find this great post on measuring psychological safety by Richard McLean.

With someone new joining the team, I’ve been scouting around for advice about how to onboard people in a mostly remote fashion. First excellent bit of reading courtesy of Ian Ames.

And from within the above post, I discovered Sarah Carter’s ‘Dragon Age Induction Board 2’ which I’m fully intending to repurpose for our needs because it’s brilliant.

I listened to this critique of venture backed unicorns. I also learned how venture capital as a concept came from 19th century whaling expeditions. Aside from the obscene amounts of money that gets flushed, it’s driving a whole load of extractive business models, low paid work and threatens our essential infrastructure (like transport) by unsustainably undercutting it.

I’m broadly supportive of the idea of working less, but I’m less sold on the concept that it has to be the same for everyone (ala.. 4 day week). Some of these themes are explored in this podcast. Super interesting. Especially that people want as much control over WHEN they work in addition to how much.

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