Weeknotes S10 Ep11

It will ripple.

Gif: A drip of water ripples in a still pool.

Ok, here we are again. It’s Monday.

As I speak a 6 year old is running rings around me, literally and figuratively (yes, on a Monday). He is stealing lemons from the fruit bowl and chewing at the rind, jumping on his trampoline, running to the bottom of the garden to steal apples, climbing on his slide, sticking cushions up his t-shirt, and constantly telling me “let’s try something else” 5 minutes into every TV show he’s requested.

This shit right here is not conducive to work. But yesterday he developed a cough, we had to get a C-19 test, and while we wait for the results to come back he can’t go to school.

So hey, maybe weeknoting in and around the chaos is something I can achieve. Other than just making and nursing infinite cups of tea (which is actually what I wish I was doing).

Anyway, I love my son. But I am tired. I do not feel rested. So what’s going on?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this tweet by John Cutler, especially the first section “Sometimes we’re just bored (or hurt)”

It reads:

“Sometimes our own needs are not being met. Maybe we’re bored. Maybe we’re looking to work to fill a void. Instead of looking inwards, we channel that energy into a convenient crusade at work. If we’re in pain, we might try to fix and save. There’s a very messy overlap between our own needs, and the changes (and advocacy) we take on our organisations. Get clear with your self first.”

It seems timely (or perhaps that’s availability bias) but last week I was talking about how I was feeling a bit bored. That coincided with doing a big One Team Gov thing. So I guess I have to acknowledge, that when I’m choosing to do big One Team Gov things, that it’s probably because there’s something missing in my day job. Fix and save.

So what’s missing? That requires some thought. Perhaps if I talk about #OTGSP first things will get clear in my head…

One Team Gov Suicide Prevention

A fair chunk of my week last week was taken up with this. Though I tried wherever possible to do it outside of working hours, there were some things that I needed to find time for.

Tuesday morning 8.30 to 9.30am was our final organisers meeting. We moved tonnes of stuff across from Doing to Done, and it felt good, though a little daunting. Over the course of the final few weeks our attendee numbers skyrocketed, on the third of September we hit 500, then 3 days before the event I tweeted that we had 640…

But by the event on Thursday we had 920 people signed up, of which around 90 were Mental Health First Aiders. Every day the attendee numbers seemed to go up by 100, and it was crazy. We were excited, but as it got closer I got more and more terrified!

We know that we often get lots of sign ups as the events for One Team Gov draw closer, as time opens up in people’s diaries, and network comms trickle down, but this was a lot.

I did a few different activities over the week:

  • making the final twitter cards ahead of the day
  • uploading the video Simon Gunning of CALM made for us to YouTube and publicising that
  • replying to lots of queries in the mailbox, genuinely, so many queries
  • creating a breakdown of attendees by organisation so that we could raise this with senior CS leadership (this was actually a point in time exercise when I *only* had a list of 500 odd, so needs doing again!
  • Reviewing all of the attendees details to see whether we had any sign ups that “looked funny” that needed reviewing and/or barring from the event. Only 2 in the whole lot actually looked fake or problematic and I was surprised to find that there were a fair few organisations from the USA signed up.
  • Going through our MHFA list to make sure it didn’t include anyone’s personal email addresses, only those from Government Departments
  • Running two speaker briefing slots to make sure that they all understood the purpose of the event, more about One Team Gov and how it would work, and holding calls with others outside of those meetings that couldn’t make it.

On the day I did the intro and was hellishly nervous because it was so important to me that we didn’t let anyone down and that I covered everything I needed to within 10 minutes. Then I did the round up at the end, and it was emotional, having heard 3 hours of personal stories, again I hope I did a good job.

The event itself was really great, moving, inspiring and informative. People participated, offering resources and asking questions, most of our speakers stayed for the duration to listen to others and also participated in the chat. While understandably the numbers went up and down throughout the whole event, they started off at over 400 and didn’t fall below 300 until the final hour (and even then it was in the high 200s).

I should also mention again here (for anyone reading that doesn’t know) that this was brought together with an organising team of 6 people, with no remit, no senior leadership and NO BUDGET. So next time someone tells you something can’t be done, just remember that, suck it up, and do it anyway.

General feedback from the #OTGSP chat, and some choice quotes pulled into a Trello board.

Friday was my non working day but I took some time to go through the chat and pull all of the feedback (general and per speaker) into a trello board, and make sure that I pulled out any questions that had been raised. From that I’ve started a draft blog post with the answers to the questions and asked speakers to fill in any that I couldn’t answer.

We were also really lucky that some of the team from Convivio, Steve, Nuria, Joe and Angela volunteered for us, note-taking and sketchnoting which is excellent. Very lucky to have them on board.

And then I need to decide what to do next. There are a few key things to do, like gather feedback and crowdsource resources from attendees, cut up the video and create transcripts (for 3 hours talking this is going to be a bit of a nightmare) and upload to YouTube and share, there are also the follow up blogs about what we learned and people’s reflections that we want to gain.

And that’s just the things that definitely need to be done.

If I want the event to have life beyond the day it’ll take work, and I need to get back to the day job and the family and all that stuff. The organising team came together and stuck together for more than we all thought — originally this event was planned for 19 August and then turned into 2 events and 10 September. I’m conscious that they all have to get back to their work and lives too.

So I’m hoping if we put it all out in the open, that the people we brought together will start to take some of the work on, that the relevant people within the civil and public service will take some of it on, and it will ripple. I have to trust that that will happen because it’s not possible for us to do it all.

And what else?

I had a call with one of my funded projects to catch up and see how they have been getting on.

Still pushing through with procurement for my other project and getting agreement from our departmental data officer.

Prepping a presentation for Digital Government Conference on the 22 September which I agreed to do for May-N but couldn’t easily work up the motivation to really pull it off (it only really came together today which is kinda in this week and not last week which is confusing).

Also, as I look at it now the other speakers are people I really admire so I’m going to have to work hard not to get too nervous.

The Digital Government Conference with me on the front page with Jen Allum and Jeni Tennison (and Matt Edgar and Richard Morton are also speaking)

I didn’t do much reading last week at all. I think that’s in part because I had a really busy weekend, with house hunting, house viewing, and then with the cough and travelling for a C-19 test. This is probably the least I’ve read since I started, but I guess I’ve been busy. I also have a feeling that maybe I read more but was preoccupied and forgot to record them.

Here’s my Trello board: https://trello.com/b/BBJ726mr/progress-bookmarks

A screenshot from my Trello board showing I only read 4 articles last week.

Jonathan did another epic download of the board so i can use it for analysis, and when I get a spare moment I need to look into that some more.

And what? I didn’t reach any conclusions about what it is that’s missing, but if I had to generalise and sum up (and I want to so I can close off this weeknote) and you might reach your own conclusions from what I’ve written above. What’s missing? Leading. Working with and for a team. Delivering something for others. Quickly seeing and working with feedback. Working on something emotive, meaningful, difficult. Putting something into the world that others can take and reuse.

I guess all these things mean a lot to me.

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