Weeknotes S8 Ep5

All the people

A gif showing a scene in the video fro Parklife by blur where Damon Albarn pulls a face and stands on one leg.

Happy Friday! I start this week much more positively than last week. Last week I wrote a post about the inertia and sluggishness that I struggle with sometimes. Thankfully this morning I’m feeling a bit more sprightly, there are things I need to achieve today and I think it’ll be ok.

I’ve had a good week. It’s felt full. It’s been full of people and ideas. I’m going to list a lot of people off in this note, because its important for me to think about them and the interactions we’ve had and what I’ve been learning. So I hope it doesn’t just sound like a “list of people I’ve had coffee with”.

It’s been a really varied week, with One Team Gov stuff happening, an interview to become a Governor, some good progress at work and exciting things on the horizon, so I’ll do my best to cover all of that.

So anyway, here we go…

Five things that happened (more than five things happened)

People. On Monday morning I met Phil and Joe who worked with me in the Cabinet Office digital and technology team. Phil has just joined MHCLG and seems really happy in his new role, which also sounds really interesting and working with lots of data scientists and analysts running their platforms for them. It was good to catch up with them both more generally and see how things are going, and as it was a Monday morning first thing I felt like it set me up for the week.

On Tuesday I met with fellow weeknoters Julie and Louise for lunch which was so lovely and I’m so grateful that writing weeknotes brought them into my orbit because they are real, genuine, interesting and brilliant. Louise talked a little about a personal project that she is doing at the moment where she is meeting people to talk with them about their dads.


Seeing her face light up as she talked about the conversations she’s been having and what she’s learning or planning to do next was honestly, so lovely and inspiring. Thank you for being you Louise x

I saw this article today and it’s been resonating hard with me this week, especially the quote:

“They do the work they want to do, not the work the world seeks to impose on them…”

These people are my favourite kind of people.

On Wednesday I had a great 1:1 and it made me remember how I’ve missed working with and supporting people as they work. I haven’t done any mentoring for some time and I really miss it. Helping people to work things through is the shiz.

On Wednesday night I had drinks with Luke and Wendy, who again I used to work with at the Cabinet Office. It was lovely to catch up, though I could probably have done with a bit less wine.

Funding work. The team are working really hard to gear up for our funding announcement on Tuesday (22 October). We’ve had sign off and a good response from the minister which is great and I’m really looking forward to what comes next. We have a selection of really interesting and diverse projects at the next round.

Maddie has been doing an awesome job getting all of the kick-off event organised and the comms together, and when I say doing an awesome job I mean, there’s been a lot on her plate but she’s been getting everything sorted and I hope the rest of us have been able to chip in enough to help her out.

On Thursday I had a catch up with Stockport, Leeds and Social Finance about the beta project that we funded as part of Round 2. It’s really exciting to see how they are planning to bring all the work together and deliver the changes across three locations. The project is hoping to develop the solution across two locations and to build out the reusable components and guidance needed to enable another authority to take it and run with it. I really think we are going to learn so much from their work in this area so I’m excited.

One Team Gov stuff. On Wednesday we held breakfast club in the new Policy Lab, Sky Room, innovation space — also known as the Churchill Annex. I loved these beautiful maps, the colours are lovely, but they’re actually bomb damage maps, detailing the types of damage sustained around London during the war.

A description of the maps shown in the annex and a close up of one of the maps

At breakfast we didn’t have many subjects to discuss but the ones that we did were extremely interesting.

Post-its discussed at breakfast

We talked about:

  • Combining grassroots and top down (wikis etc)
  • What? System leadership, and,
  • What might the circular economy look like for gov?

It was really interesting how all of the topics overlapped in a kind of systems leadership venn diagram. I particularly enjoyed the conversation about the circular economy that Andrea raised. It made me re frame some of the ways that we talk about sustainability, how we think about time how we are driven by short-termism into delivering waste, and what could we do with some of that waste — who might reuse our waste products and in what way, what could others deliver with what we leave behind.

This week Severin and the team at Co-Matter shared the lightning talks from the Community Leadership Summit that I recently went to in Copenhagen. While I slightly regret my face, I love this page with the recording of our session, and the breakdown of what we talked about and shared. It makes me feel pretty proud to have been part of it.


Finding your people. On Thursday it finally rolled around to the crash course workshop that I was running with Nour and Miki from the city of Edmonton in Canada for Apolitical.

It was such a cool experience to be part of this, working with someone on the other side of the globe to build out a presentation slide deck, learning about Miki’s community of Unicorns, thinking more about One Team Gov and about our similarities and differences. I hope we struck a good balance of thoughts, ideas and lessons.

Here are our slides from the presentation, but Nour and I will be writing up a blog post soon with more detail so that those who couldn’t attend can find out more. It will also include answers to some of the questions that we received but didn’t have a chance to answer at the time.

It was a really exciting thing to see how we had 105 attendees at it’s peak, and Sean from Apolitical advised that he counted at least 10 countries represented which is excellent.

James was also there in the chat pointing people around the world to our branding assets and encouraging them to start their own factions — that was a genius idea! I hope we see some more groups and networks spring up from this, and I’m so grateful to be able to do some of these amazing things.

Governer-ing. Yesterday evening I had an interview to become a selected general governor of the Letchworth Heritage Foundation. It was pretty nerve wracking — even though it’s a voluntary role I know it also comes with a lot of responsibility.


I think it went ok, though I’m never sure if I come across as too forceful or whether I’m really making my points well or being too skattergun.

I managed to talk a lot about diversity (which seemed apt as I was being interviewed by four white men who were likely all 50 and above).

But I also managed to talk about; community building, Hilary Cottam, the Civil Service Shadow Board, One Team Gov, using open space facilitation to bring out ideas and innovation, local level entrepreneurship,poverty, art, architecture, tenacity, blogging, twitter — and about being a mum of a child with additional needs.

When I came out I was reeling. I hadn’t realised how much stuff I’ve had going on and how many experiences and thoughts I have that are different or intriguing to other people — within work I get to hang out with people who have similar thoughts and experiences.

Possibly the best thing about getting a role like this (if I manage to be successful) will be that I get to spend time listening to other people and finding out what they think, learning some new stuff and gaining new perspectives. So yep, I think it would be lovely to be successful.

And what else?

I’ve been reading a lot of interesting things this week and I’ve just started Rebel Ideas, The Power of Diverse Thinking by Matthew Syed. Up next I’m going to read The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton.

Here are some other bits and pieces (with limited description because I’m keen to finish these loooooong notes now)

Whatever you think about ER this is a great thread (click through) about how decision making happens within a decentralised movement:

This link was promoted at me via twitter I think but I thought it sounded interesting and clicked through. I like the notion that the imperfection can actually be more desirable than the perfect — its a useful story to use again later.

I absolutely love these open doodles by Pablo Stanley


And that’s that. Thanks for reading this far you excellent people!

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