Weeknotes S7 Ep03

A tribute to Judith Kerr by Emily Coxhead.

Before I begin

Hello how are you? Happy Friday!

What’s been happening this week? Well, a lot again. I’ve still been feeling tired but I’ve come to think that actually that might be because I’ve been picking up on some strange energies that are kicking about. I am a mood sponge and when I tune into those energies its a bit difficult to tune them out.

Do I sound like some kind of hippy? That’s not quite what I mean, I think its more that I sense stresses outside of my immediate sphere and I feel them really acutely. The department is currently working on spending review, this is when the Treasury takes stock of all the work that is going on and sets budgets for the next 5 years. It means that there’s a lot of work to do to craft those stories about what the department and teams need to achieve, there’s a lot of going out and speaking to other departments to work out where the crossovers and similarities are. What I’ve realised in working with Local Government is that naturally our department is of interest to a lot of others because Local Gov does all of the things that Government does in microcosm.

That means that there are a lot of conversations happening and soft kind of negotiations taking place. I was at the Cabinet Office during the last spending review, and was very new to the Civil Service, so I didn’t feel this quite as much, and I wonder what it’s like in other departments.

Our previous leader, Linda has left and is on maternity leave, and we are waiting for several people to start work and fill a number of gaps in our team, also several of our team are having to work on spending review almost full time.

I sense that the team are feeling those gaps and we need to all look out for each other and make sure it doesn’t become too much.

As a person who naturally steps into spaces and opportunities where I see them I’m actually finding it quite a nice opportunity to do more and to grow, but I do also feel tired. I’m wondering how much more will change from today onwards as we no longer have a Prime Minister. I don’t have an opinion on all that, but I do imagine that there are going to be more changes and potentially more work.

So yep, its really important to pull the team together and look after one another.

Five things that happened

One. Discovery. I spent much of Monday and Tuesday ploughing through all of project feedback again and writing the feedback for my last remaining discovery project.

Once I’d done that I looked closely at everything we had put together.

We wrote feedback for four of the projects together as project leads, but had to go away and do the rest separately in order to save Some time. So that meant there were a few idiosyncrasies in language, so I spent the time making sure we were using the same phrasing across all of them, bringing them into line while also being useful for the people reading them, I hope I’ve succeeded.

A picture of our feedback edits.

It was hard work, and when I was reviewing a couple I realised that it had been a long time since I’d read the outputs for one, and that I had never read another, so I ended up reading them both to check that the feedback made sense. That means I’ve now read all of the discovery outputs, which is something to be proud of, but, like I said, it’s been hard work.

The result is that we now have all 10 projects’ feedback for publishing and just need to get mutual agreement and publish, that feels good, but there is still more to do.

Two. Alpha. Tuesday was our deadline for the Alpha project outputs so it was really good to see my project’s work come in at the end of the day.

It lead to a few conversations about our timescales for publishing and generating feedback though. We had 10 discovery projects and it was a big time outlay to get to the stage of being happy with it all. Rich, Adam and I sat down this week and added up the approximate days taken for all three of our team, it looked a bit like this:

  • Half a day to read each of the project’s outputs and make some notes (this might even take more like a day)
  • another good half day to round up feedback to go back to the team,
  • a half day to write the structured feedback (at least) per project
  • a similar amount to bring that into bullets (each).

So that’s 2 days per person per project, and all of our outputs have been read by at least 2 people, so that’s 40 people days.

Good things take time.

Add to that about three workshops to talk through the work and agree, and then 1.5 days for all of the final editing, all in all, its about 45 days worth of work, or 3 solidweeks.

That’s a significant outlay. (And I haven’t counted any of Eni’s work in this although he has been a big part, as have other members of our team who have helped at various workshops, or have just listened to me banging on about various things (thanks Rich)).

So anyway, whats the point of me going on about this? Well it’s basically that with 6 alpha projects we need to go through a similar process. The alpha projects are (obviously) bigger, potentially different or more complex, they will require at least the same amount of time, and we need go through the process and respect the time it takes in order to make sure we respect the work that teams have done.

I wish we could speed this up and get the value out to people quicker, but it is important, and it takes time.

Three. Showing and telling. At some point over those two days I managed to knock up some slides for our regular (livestreamed) show and tell that was happening on Wednesday. These are always slightly daunting, but thankfully I was able to use a lot of what I had written in last week’s weeknotes! So there’s a thing, weeknotes are useful, who knew 😉

You’ll find it here if you’re interested:


Four. People. I had a really nice friendly week with good people in it. On Wednesday morning there were lots of excellent people at One Team Gov breakfast and some good conversations as well as Tunnocks courtesy of Jane. I had good chats with Rebecca and it was lovely to see Amanda there for her first *gasp* breakfast!

We all sent a congratulations to One Team Gov Canada for them running the Global Unconference:

I saw Hattie in the office which was excellent and I am possibly even more excited than she is that she is joining us from next week.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with fellow weeknoter Douglas and DavidBuck and we sat in the sunshine. Conversation and sunshine were both lovely and made a really welcome change as I’ve not really been getting out at lunch lately.

Also it’s worth saying that I would most likely not met most of these people unless I had joined OneTeamGov, started tweeting and writing weeknotes, so that’s also a thing.

On Thursday we had a cheese and wine gathering at work, which is part of Linda’s work on wellbeing and a good attempt to bring people in the directorate together. Its a nice chance to speak to people I don’t work with every day.

Five. One Team Gov stuff. There’s soooooo much going on at the moment but the most exciting thing was that the Canada crew ran #OneTeamGovGlobal!

It was really good to see all of the tweets and to see how it was all going, it brought back a lot of memories about last year and I know it’ll take the organisers a long time to process it all.

Heather shared some excellent and uplifting quotes so you should follow her to read about some of the effect this movement is having on people, real people, on the other side of the world.

The #OTGWellbeingCamp and #BureaucracyHack teams are still going great guns, which is inspiring to see. And the User Research unconference did a really lovely writeup about their event and what happens next (spoiler: building an OTG User Research community in Leeds).

View at Medium.com

Paul has asked me and Rebecca to be involved in running an unconference for our department’s SCS (Senior Civil Servants) I’ve never done it before, but having been around such excellent facilitators and other brilliant one Team Gov-ers for the past couple of years I’m confident that I can pull it off.

In reality the hard work has already been done by others, all of the assets are out there in the open, and the most important thing will just be finding volunteers (I already have some) and warming up the attendees.

And what else?

I’ve been reading a few interesting things:

I’ve been listening to lots of these podcasts:

View at Medium.com

And listening to Charlotte Gainsbourg IRM:


And I’ve watched:


View at Medium.com

And that’s it. See you next week!

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