Weeknotes S5 Ep2


A gif of a perpetual line of men walking

Hello and welcome to my week(notes). How are you? I hope you are well and the week has been kind to you. I hope you did something you really love or ate some of your favourite food or spent time with awesome people.

Last week I went through the exercise of actually documenting how I had spent my time because I couldn’t quite remember where I was from one minute to the next.

I’m not going to do that this week because it’s relatively low value or interest to anyone but me. But it was a good thing to do to actually sit down with the activities I’d done and look at what parts made me happy and what didn’t.

This week there are a few key themes, so I’m going to stick to them instead:

Golden tickets

Friday last week I learned that I hadn’t made it through to round three of the Future Leaders Scheme (FLS). Round three is the interview stage before selecting participants [1].

This is the third year in a row that I haven’t made it on to the scheme. I first mentioned this last year in S01 Ep11:


Actually. I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get on it last year, but this year I’m probably closer to indifferent.

I thought it might be third time lucky, but not getting on this year has made me think a lot more about my reasons for applying.

The truth is [2] that the Civil Service is a massive organisation, and in a massive organisation it can be difficult to see the processes and way things work, more so if you haven’t come from a family or educational background that explains some of this stuff to you.

When you don’t understand this stuff it’s hard to see how to get to where you want to be, and schemes like this provide a clearer path.

John Travolta is lost.

It’s also an organisation that (rightly) takes itself very seriously (at least at the centre) academia is highly valued (again, at least very much so in the centre) and frankly, that can be an intimidating place to be, especially if you have a little imposter syndrome.

I believe I am smart, though I am not academic. Neither of my parents got degrees, I did have free school meals at some point, my school didn’t teach us about career paths or graduate schemes, and my university wasn’t good enough [3] to be on the milkround.

I have to acknowledge my privilege too, I am white and middle class, I actually went to university and got a degree, plus I live near London.

So if I feel like this, then it feels likely that people with different backgrounds can come into an organisation like the civil service and feel like there are lots of doors closed to them.

Applying for a scheme like this, for some people, is a way of nudging open some of those doors, if not kicking them down. It’s a chance to grab that golden ticket that you know other people already have.

So then, I guess if I am to properly acknowledge my privilege it’s right that I didn’t get through. And actually, when I frame it that way, I’m fairly happy with the outcome. I hope people who would benefit from that ticket more than me get it and grab it with both hands.

I learned that Jonathan and James made it through to the next stage, and I’m really happy for them, they are good people and deserve their hard work to be recognised. Based on what I’ve said above I want to be absolutely clear that I wholeheartedly believe that the people who have made it through totally deserve it and it reflects a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Nothing I’ve said here negates that.

A celebration dance.


This week was week three of my new working pattern. Three days in four with half days on a Monday and a Thursday.

Last week I said I hoped that it would start to settle down and that my new pattern would start to bed in. Well, that didn’t happen.

This week my other half was away for two days at an all hands which meant that I needed to take the little one to school in the mornings for two days. That meant later starts and later finishes. Then on Wednesday the school called to tell me he had a tummy bug, and that he couldn’t return to school for 48 hours. This meant a frantic rearranging of childcare for Thursday and Friday (even though he was absolutely fine and his usual crazy self).

All the childcare planning and all the attempts at routine mean absolutely nothing when your little one is ill.

A comic about having too many emails.

On top of that my inbox has been like one of those prioritisation tests that they do to see if you can deal with pressure when your inbox is filling up, except its 100% real and it doesn’t seem to stop.

So maybe next week will be the week it all starts to come together.

Cynicism and Apathy

I’m so over this. It doesn’t make you look cool or clever it just makes you look cold, mean and self-important. It’s empathy failure.


I’ve seen a few instances of this on Twitter recently [4] I’ve also encountered it in my team. When I arrived I re-instated weeknotes to raise visibility of work and tell the rest of the department what we are up to.

I set them up so that each STA [5] only needs to add a line or two each week. It should take 2 minutes, tops, which doesn’t seem like a massive ask to me.

This week someone in my team said that they didn’t think senior leaders would take anything with an animated gif in it seriously [6] and that it was a complete waste of time. At least three more people weighed in and agreed, or provided an emoji of approval. It was depressing.

Thumbs up emojis

It might not seem like the most important thing to be upset about, but it has been on my mind a lot.

Weeknotes aren’t for leadership they’re for everyone. It’s a very quick and simple way to enable people to know what our team is and does, with very little effort. When I was new to GDS they helped me to navigate and understand the organisational structure.

Plus, I have feedback that people find them useful for knowing who else is working on similar issues (and that they like the gif). So in short, it might not be useful to you but maybe it’s not for you.

Also, it’s not useful feedback (which the weeknote itself asks for every week), and I wish people would give constructive feedback rather than just dismissing something out of hand.

Can you be more constructive with your feedback. Please.

But by far the most depressing thing is that where once I had the energy to stand up against stuff like this, this time I didn’t have energy to challenge it. Which probably means that I’m apathetic too. And I hate that.

Richard Ayoadi saying “We don’t care here.”

This is probably the most ranty I will ever be in weeknotes, and I’m worried about how ranty I’ve been. How can I reframe this to make myself feel better? Suggestions please?

Despite the ranty ending of this week’s notes, I am feeling positive as I end this week, and I think this series will be exciting, so if you’ve read this far, look out for next week.

See you later!

[1] As a side note, sending an email saying you weren’t successful but not providing feedback as to why on a Friday afternoon ahead of the weekend is bad form, just in case you work in CSHR and see this. I still don’t have my feedback almost a week later.

[2] My truth at least, please feel free to disagree with me.

[3] Do I mean “good enough”? Possibly. I also mean, too small, and based in Cornwall.

[4] For the record, using the phrase “grow up” in a subtweet is a lazy way of shutting down a conversation, and if you ever think you might be tempted to use it please don’t.

[5] Senior Technology Advisor, that’s my job.

[6] Seriously? Seriously?!

A gif that says “The gif that keeps on gif-ing”

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