Weeknotes S04 Ep5

Stand by for Beatles gifs

Beatles gifs? Why, Sam?

Overarching feeling of the week

A really varied week, trains are still completely frustratingly awful and led to me missing One Team Gov breakfast club. I’ve also had a strange hayfever thing (or maybe cold) which has meant I’m basically propping up the UK tissue industry right now, and my ears feel strange, as if I’m underwater…

John Lennon swimming.

But in positives, I had a trip to Liverpool, plus almost two whole days in the office, some really positive catch-ups with brilliant, friendly people and I also took my privilege day.

Being in the office meant that I felt anchored, gave me time to think, and opportunities to speak to my team which is always good. Then on Thursday met up with loads of amazing weeknoters! (See below).

So some good and some bad, but probably more good than bad. That’s good.

Ringo Starr dancing.

Five things that happened (more than five things happened)

ONE. Liverpool. The departments in my portfolio are based all over the UK which meant that this week I attended a meeting in Liverpool. The meeting itself was an interesting overview of the team’s portfolio management processes, not something I’ve encountered in such depth before.

It’s interesting to consider portfolio management when you’re thinking about how teams actually run and work. I completely understand and appreciate why we have portfolio management as a function and how important it is to see work in overview.

When thinking about that, and with the lens of controls and assurance, I think it’s also really important that portfolio management is linked up with digital expertise to ensure that projects are answering the right questions. I’m not saying this team aren’t doing that, but as something new to me I’m just thinking through, and interested in, how these functions work together.

I was also just happy to be in Liverpool for the first time, so I made an obligatory trip to The Cavern Club because #rocknrollpilgrimage.

A terrible selfie at The Cavern

I also listened to Revolver which I haven’t for a long time. Walking through Liverpool with Taxman playing in your ears is an incredibly satisfying thing [1].

TWO. People. I had a good coffee catch up with Craig who I worked with on a large change programme at CO just before I left. It was really good to hear what he is up to now and to chat about new roles, career plans etc. I’ve been feeling some of my thoughts coming into sharper focus recently and this conversation really helped me with that.

I also had a yummy bao lunch and a catch up with Hattie which was lovely because she is awesome. I spent a spare half hour helping Hattie to give some advice to a colleague about their competencies for an upcoming interview — that was great.

I love that stuff and feeling like I’m helping someone to achieve. Fingers crossed for her.

And finally I had a long catch up with Tom about various things we are currently working on which was really helpful.

THREE. Public speaking. I volunteered to speak at the Public Sector Show on the GDS stand later on this month. I’ll be giving an overview of our team and the work we do.

Oh lord, please let this not be me.

I feel a little like I’ve thrown myself in at the deep end because I’ve never done this before. Still, public speaking was something I wanted to achieve in my time at GDS, so I am excited, but yep, slightly terrified.

I’ve roped in (the aforementioned, brilliant and amazing) Hattie so that makes me feel much better about the whole thing. So if you’re coming to the Public Sector show please feel free to stop by and cheer us on!

Girls cheering at a Beatles gig

I finalised my presentation on Friday (despite it being my privilege day) because I didn’t get access to the presentation I wanted to use as a basis for the work until Wednesday.

When I sent the finished item back it was promptly rewritten by our comms team. That made me feel… awkward, especially as I’d been repurposing it from an already existing presentation.

Possibly this happened because I wasn’t in the office but it would be helpful to have worked with comms so I could understand their thoughts and explain mine. That was slightly frustrating but I’ll see what I can do to bridge that gap when I’m back in the office.

FOUR. One Team Gov Job Descriptions. I’ve been doing some thinking about what we can do to incorporate these into our job descriptions which is really great. I’m looking forward to talking the team through it.

FIVE. Weeknotes meetup!

Thursday evening was a great opportunity to catch up with my fellow weeknoters Dan, Julie, Ian, Louise, Jenny, Nour, Debbie, @jukesie, Jonathan and Louise.

A selection of photos of my fellow weeknoters

It was genuinely great, we spent time talking about our individual work contexts, and talked some more about why we write and what the benefits are. We talked about organisational blogging and how to win over teams who are more risk averse, this is a subject which has come up at One Team Gov breakfast before and Jenny wrote about it in these weeknotes.

We talked about new roles, changing roles, old roles. Our experience, how to fix issues we are facing, in a supportive and helpful environment.

I was excited to hear from Jukesie about the Beyonce and Jay-Z gig that he had been to the night before, though not a tad jealous.

Oh sorry, I was supposed to be giffing pure Beatles. Oh well, I think we can make an exception for Queen Bey.

All conversation was also free-flowing and really fun: from previous jobs watching videos of people’s insides, Tom Cruse films, tattoos, metal bands and on and on… I’m really lucky to know these public sector (and beyond) digital (and commercial) rock stars who I enjoy spending so much time with. Very lucky indeed.

Also in attendance was Derek who is currently visiting from the Canadian Digital Service. Derek is sharing bitesize videos documenting his time over here in London speaking to public sector digital folk.

We actually recorded a video about weeknotes from the pub, this was quite an achievement, you’ll find it below:

Cate was conspicuous in her absence but sent along the very lovely Rebecca in her place, with a load of Lamnuts!

I had never heard of those before but (I am lead to believe that[2]) they were absolutely delicious — Cate you are a superstar and we missed you! Rebecca was absolutely lovely and stayed with us for the evening, I hope we made her feel welcome!

Ex team-member Alex also hung out with us which was fun, and we got the train back to the regions together. I really enjoyed chatting to Alex some more because we didn’t get that much opportunity to work together when he was in my team.

I also loved Alex’s tweet because it lumps me in with rockstars Jukesie and Dan and I would love to believe that I am a quarter as cool as them. Thanks Alex!


Earth gif

On Wedensday Nour and I had a short call with the Behavioural Insights Team to bring them up to speed with Global and to chat through ways in which they could get involved. It was great to speak with them because I think they have done some really interesting work.

I also started a conversation with Rupert in the Policy Lab team about pitching a topic based on his Sky Rooms (innovation spaces) project.

This week kim posted her #MyOneTeamGov story which is absolutely excellent. You’ll find it below:

View at Medium.com

I’m really enjoying commissioning and supporting these blogs, especially when they are written so eloquently. We’ve published a few of these so far and what’s really great for me is seeing how similar yet utterly different peoples’ stories are.

I really love Kim’s perspective as a relative newcomer to the civil service and as someone younger than me. Her focus on inspiring younger talent to join is inspiring:

I really see #OneTeamGov as a selling point for coming to work in government and I hope that the passion and drive to change for the better will help inspire some more amazing people to come and join us.

Yes, Kim. 100% yes!

I really love how McCartney looks like he’s about to burst out laughing in this gif

In other news…

Ellie wrote a great weeknote which makes a powerful case… I don’t want to paraphrase but I loved the inclusion of the retrospective prime directive.


I was really interested to read this write up of Apolitical’s interview with Sir Jeremy Heywood.

View at Medium.com

I really love that at the highest level there is talk about understanding and creating space for failure. It included this great quote:

…when people do try to be creative, when they get it wrong, you don’t come down on them too hard. If it’s an honest mistake and they’ve learnt from it, then that should be almost celebrated…

People have pointed out to me that there’s an awkward inclusion of the word “almost” here. But I’m just happy to count this as a win.

I’m still reading Gamestorming, and I’ve also started reading Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor by Dave Haslam. On Audible I’ve downloaded a load of books and I’m currently listening to The Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett.


I recently finished Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Renni Edo-Lodge and as soon as I’d finished it I wanted to immediately go back and listen to it again; the chapter on feminism and intersectionality was especially brilliant.

I really loved this thread by Caroline O’Donoghue (about an episode of the Simpsons) on Twitter:


And I really enjoyed the #WokeCharlotte meme:

View at Medium.com

Last but by no means least I bring you this week’s playlist. This comes to you courtesy of Spotify algorithms after I listened to a load of Beatles tracks.

While these are all clearly exceptional records, it should be noted that some of the lyrics have not aged well. 96 Tears (stalking or something worse?) and Under My Thumb (coercive control?).

George falls backwards in exasperation.

[1] Here you will find your reason for my gif selections this week.

[2]It’s a little known fact that I have a seriously strong dislike of coconut. As someone who is also allergic to nuts this sometimes confuses people. No coconuts aren’t actually nuts, I just don’t like them. Anyway, in the case of the lamnuts this just meant more for everybody else!


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