Hello, it’s Friday again and, more than that, February is almost over. It’s six weeks since the schools went back after Christmas, well it must be, because we are once again in half-term holiday time. These school holidays feel constant and show me just how much time is elapsing that I don’t notice slipping by.
Before I start here’s my weekly reading for the week: https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks
I read a lot of great stuff this week and I’m starting to think about some loose goals for things I want to see reflected in what I’m reading; like making sure I’m reading things from a variety of sources.
I’m also starting to categorise things against specific jobs or that are useful for particular pieces of work I’m doing. You won’t see them labeled as a colour, but if you wanted to see any articles that I’ve tagged as the Local Digital Collaboration Unit (for example) you’ll be able to find them all.
Some things that happened:
After Storm Dennis at the weekend the trains were obviously all messed up on Monday morning and it took me 2.5 hours to get into work. Thankfully the meeting in my diary for 9am had been moved so I didn’t miss anything. It set me off on a grump for the rest of the day though.
On Tuesday I worked from home so that I could take over from my little one’s nanny at the end of the day (did I mention it’s half-term?) and it was good to get my head down and focus on some tasks around upcoming procurement activities that I need to do.
On Wednesday I headed into the office but I woke up with the remains of a migraine stuck in the nape of my neck and back of my head. It was a dull ache that stuck all day and gradually removed my ability to speak, formulate coherent sentences, and generally be a functional human being.
I started the day in a meeting with my DD and D about the digital strategy that I think went ok. But ended the day sprint planning with the team from Convivio and wasn’t really in any fit state to do that and make any sense.
I learned this week that I really need to pull my finger out and do the boring admin things that never quite seem important enough for me to get around to.
I still don’t have a pass for the office, and that means I can’t print and I can’t check into meeting rooms. In our building if you don’t check into the room within 15 minutes of the meeting starting it cancels and makes the room available again. I know this, but still havent done anything about it. This hasn’t been a problem so far but on Wednesday afternoon it made our sprint planning a precarious affair as people kept trying to turf us out.
This is a common thing that reminds me of this article about millenials that I read a while back. As those millennials say, I feel seen. Essentially the article describes how low value things aren’t important enough to do when you’re constantly busy and anxious.
I have a coat upstairs that I never managed to get to the Post Office to return. I haven’t sorted my pass at work, these are the same low level life bores whereby it’s easier to suffer not getting a refund on a coat you will never wear, or the indignity of pleading with someone to let you stay in a meeting room rather than just get the shit done.
And yes, I am officially-somehow-actually a millennial (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) albeit the oldest of the millennials — but it still counts. I’m happy with it as a term as it makes me feel young so I can cope with any of that reductionist stereotyping. LOL.
On Wednesday we also had a retro for the National Leadership Forum which was good and I’m impressed at how the networks team structure these kinds of sessions and make them easy for people to feed in. I also appreciated their use of the retrospective prime directive and ecocycle planning liberating structure.
Over night on Wednesday the migraine moved to the front of my face and I woke up with it fully behind my (incredibly puffy) eyes.
I decided I probably shouldn’t go into work. So I worked from home and got a lot more and slightly different pre-procurement activity done, plus I did some useful thinking about how to do what next and in what order, which was useful. Also had a chat with Steve which was really helpful, and it was fun to compare notes about my dark past in digital agencies.
Through all of this I’ve been managing our network data for the Connect platform. Our data changes a lot as people change roles or their email addresses change or are different to what we have for them. This means that we get quite a lot of people emailing us about not being able to get access to the system, and, as we are currently asking people to express an interest in attending our programme we have to make sure that these are dealt quickly otherwise people might not get the opportunity.
It’s been a while since I’ve had to do this kind of manual admin process and that’s fine (I’m not saying I’m above it) but it does take some time to get everything done and to check and troubleshoot things, and I have a lot of other stuff to do, so I’m hoping we can get some of the processes automated in some way soon.
And what else?
I’ve been reflecting a lot about the differences between “yes, and” and “yes, but” people this week.
I would say I’m most often of the “yes, and” disposition, and I’m proud of that because it feels expansive and more ambitious than “yes, but” — so I wear it like a badge of honour.
I’m not saying that this is 100% right, it comes with it’s problems. I know that I can rapidly come off topic or expand out scope as I think things through. But there are plus sides, the ability to talk things through to add onto other people’s thoughts and to push ideas forward, I know when you use “yes, and” you’re more likely to get to a place which feels interesting, exciting, innovative-ish.
The problem comes that these two kinds of people can rub each other up the wrong way. “Yes, and” people feel constrained by “yes, but” people.
And “yes, but” people feel frustrated by “yes, and” people’s flightiness when they just want to get things done, please.
I get it, and I’m being deliberately reductionist, but it’s to demonstrate some of what I’ve felt I’ve come up against this week. It’s really easy to feel constrained when you start raising ideas and they are met with buts. It takes the creativity out of the thinking and it can feel intensely personal. I’m working through this at the moment and working out what I can do to better bridge that gap.
One Team Gov editing and publishing
This week I edited and published four blog posts for One Team Gov. Two were from the recent Ottawa unconference (a brilliant but very long post that we decided to split into two pieces) and two were from the recent #OneGreenGov event in London (an attendee and a speaker). This February we’ve published 7 posts in total, which is a big month, especially this early in the year.
You’ll find them on the One Team Gov Medium publication here:
This is the most I’ve edited in a month for a while now, since July last year.
It got me thinking about how much we are publishing and how regularly, so I quickly knocked up this graph that shows the number of blog posts published monthly from 2017 to now.
We’ve always said that we seem to do much more work in the summer, and this is probably proof, with spikes in July 2018 (the global event was in July) and June 2019 (this was the Bureaucracy Hack). Obviously, I’m taking a really London / Westminster-centric view of it, but the amount of publishing seems to bear this out.
However, with the Ottawa unconference before Christmas, #OneGreenGov and the Exploring Future Leadership workshops happening in January, this means we’ve hit a publishing peak really early in the year, which is exciting and I hope that the momentum keeps up.
It’s also good to see that we published significantly more in 2019 than in 2018. We published 20 posts over 2018 and then 59 in 2019, almost tripling our output. We’ve also published 96 posts in total since 2017 meaning that last year we published more than half (61.5%) of our total posts since the beginning.
I’m hoping that this shows that we’re increasing our output, more things are happening, so rather than One Team Gov slowing down (it sometimes feels this way) we are actually still gaining momentum. That’s a good sign of power moving out of the central “core” (again read: London / Westminster) and into more localised areas where people are empowered to run and do their own things, which I think is excellent.
With the Nordic Unconference coming up I’m sure there will be more published about that, there’s a Sheffield meet-up spinning up, and a Midlands event happening in April, as well as Civil Service Live and other things that will be happening over the summer.
I’ve been thinking I might need to do a follow up to my previous “What has One Team Gov actually achieved?” post.
If you want to write for the One Team Gov publication please just let me know, we are always happy to hear about what is going on and to help drum up attendance at your events. You can contact me here, via Twitter or have a read at the blog post below that tells you what you need to do to get published.
I also just want to take a small moment to pat myself on the back. I’m *hoping* that part of our increased posting is because I’m doing the hard work to make things simple for people, editing, tidying and publishing and then pushing to Twitter and LinkedIn. So I’m just going to pat myself on the back a little and look over what I’ve managed to help build because I’m really proud at the quality and variety of content we are getting out there into the world, and whatever small part I can play in that I’m really happy to.
Also, just a moment to remind everyone yet again that we do One Team Gov work in our own time, at evenings and at weekends. This isn’t my job, but it is a job (and tangentially related to my job), but nobody pays me to do it.
I’ve felt quite a bit this week, when I’ve been editing posts about Climate Change, a huge responsibility not to edit out the thoughts and feelings of the people who have written for us. I’ve been acutely feeling the worry, anger, fear and other personal thoughts that are coming out in some of the posts we are publishing and I’ve found myself working really hard to edit these sympathetically.
I want to make sure that any Civil Servants, myself included, who work with One Team Gov and are bound by the Civil Service Code, don’t have their integrity questioned. But I want to make sure that the people who write for us (who aren’t always civil servants and thus aren’t bound by the code) get their thoughts and feelings out there, and that I don’t mangle their words.
So far we have published articles by two non-civil servants with their own views and feelings, thats been fine, but I’m aware there are a lot of people out there who are angry and frustrated by the inactivity of governments (not necessarily our government) and the language can sometimes get tricky. I’m very aware that it’s a very fine line to walk at times.
Anyway, I’m doing my absolute best to represent people’s thoughts and feelings appropriately and within the limits of what it is acceptable for me to do as a Civil Servant and someone who takes that role seriously.
Though my name isn’t on the posts, I feel some responsibility to the movement as a whole to protect it and us while also making sure we publish things we care about. I hope I’m doing a good job at it.