A mental health check in. It would be wrong of me to keep writing these weeknotes without calling out that I’ve been having a bit of a hard time this year.
Other people in the weeknotes community have been really brave recently and it’s reminded me that we have to be open and honest about what’s going on in our lives (and in our heads) if we want things to change.
Since around January I’ve had patches of feeling very low. As a result I haven’t been doing the things I need to do to make myself feel more stable and comfortable.
I haven’t been exercising enough, not watching what I’m eating (volume) and eating well (putting good stuff in my face), and there have been a couple of times where I’ve drunk more than I meant to (when I know drinking can exacerbate my anxiety).
I’ve moved from part-time (4 day weeks) to full-time. Oh, and I haven’t taken any leave since January. I am tired. I need a holiday. I need some time to rest.
This is all adding up to make things just that little bit more difficult. I’m having some serious words with myself about what I do next to help get back on track.
I’m really ok. But I wanted to acknowledge this and write it down. I say it here because often people look and act fine, we smile and laugh and get on with things but sometimes it can all be a bit too much.
I say this here because if you’re struggling and you feel alone, please know that you aren’t alone. If you can, take some time and rest, speak to someone. If you need to I’m here, and I get it.
Finally, this is a call for us all to be kind. You can’t know who is struggling or how, so please, lets be nice.
Anyway, on with the show.
Overarching feeling of the week
If the above didn’t give you a hint, this week has been tough.
I’ve needed to be at home, and I’ve been trying to keep up with work while I’ve been away (with limited success). Thursday and Friday I spent travelling for work (which I personally could have done with being literally any other week).
As such, this week less than five things happened…
Less than Five things that happened…
ONE. On Monday I spent the morning in the office doing our weekly team meetings. Then, I undertook some bullying and harassment training which lead to some interesting discussions and a lot to think about.
In the afternoon I joined Thom in a meeting at MoJ which was good because it was an opportunity to see another member of my team in action.
Then I had to run home and be at home for a few days. So…
TWO. On Thursday and Friday my team travelled off on a road trip. It was good to get out as a team, but I didn’t realise quite how tired I was; there was a lot of travelling on Thursday, followed by a late dinner and bedtime which meant I was exhausted. I wasn’t really feeling myself.
Still the couple of days were a good opportunity to speak to people in my team who I haven’t had a chance to get to know properly before. That was good.
There were also really interesting conversations about innovation, driving culture change, building start up and experimental culture, which I really enjoyed. And I got a 3D printed charmander….
THREE. As I travelled home on Friday evening I met my friend Matti on the train who coincidentally works for a department I work with.
We had a long chat about service design, definitions of it and what it means in specific departmental contexts. We spoke about some notions of defining services as being quite shallow and an understanding of it as a discipline across government not being established (or worse being seen as a very special specialism which might be slightly elitist? This is my question, not Matti’s).
What’s difference between UX/UR/Business Analysis or other design practices? This is a hypothetical question but it acknowledges that as a discipline there is a venn diagram of other disciplines around it which overlap.
We also spoke about assessments and how these work in a service design context. Do we need to define the difference between a component and a service? Do we think about different parts of a service in different ways? What will this mean for assessment? It will be interesting to see as changes to the service standard happen.
We also spoke about books that we are currently reading. Coincidentally we are both reading/listening to The Idiot Brain, and we chatted about that other book that is doing the rounds at the moment, and (public sector heroes like) Stefan’s / Matthew Cain’s take on it.
It was a good way to end the week even though I felt very much like I already needed my bed.
No real opportunity to get stuff done this week but massive shout outs to some of the One Team Gov crew for their support and understanding. Jenny Morgan, Debbie, Nour and Kit, it means a lot, thank you.
There’s been great progress by the team in getting all of our fab volunteers lined up. I discovered that two of my team (Hattie and Clara) are volunteering and that made me extraordinarily happy. They are both brilliant, and I’m glad that they are involved.
Merchandise is being bought. Designs are being drawn up. Things are getting really real.
There are still a few things we need help with, and DavidBuck needs your thoughts about childcare…
This week Kylie and the One Team Gov Canada team have also released the One Team Gov podcast…
In other news…
Last weeknote I spoke about an article I’d read which spoke about civil servants needing to go back to school. Then I read this and it felt as though it echoed some of the thoughts I was trying to get down.
At this week’s One Team Gov breakfast club somebody brought up a question about introversion. This lead to a number of interesting conversations on Twitter and I recommend a read around this subject…
I was really interested in Stefan’s question so I tried to get some thoughts down as I ate breakfast in Paddington station…
I’m really interested in this as a subject. Especially as someone who recognises that I’m not always the best at managing my own introversion, or recognising it in others. I’m trying to get better at cultivating my quieter side.
This strengths mapping template came out and I am really interested to see how it plays out because it sounds quite promising…
I cannot agree with Stefan enough on this point:
The MOJ had a day of designing for people in crisis which I thought sounded absolutely excellent. Important.
Wondering how I can wangle an invite to the next event? 🤔
I also really liked this blog by the Home Office because it sounds like a good start in showing the full breadth of services within the department.
But also (based on some of the comments above from my conversation with Matti) it would be good to be able to see the associations and dependencies between services too.
Also,as this moves forward, my assumption would be that services will necessarily become clumped (technical term) together. What does this do to the agileness (also technical term) of those services? Could this possibly move people back into a mindset of designing heavy services that are difficult to change?
I often struggle with getting teams to break down services and think about parts of them as separate. Encourage thinking about using smaller components or functionality which can be broken up, changed out, improved.
I’m not sure, but it is worth thinking about.
This job was advertised and I would love to go for it but don’t feel qualified enough. Someone else should go for it, and get it, and be excellent:
Finally I haven’t made a playlist this week so instead, here is my (embarrassing) “Teen me” playlist. If you like cheesy indie pop from the 90s then you will dig it:
 For my own entertainment I am very keen to keep up the Paul Rudd gif game.