Anniversary missed

Monday 4th September was the 6th anniversary of the day I went into hospital. Each year since I have marked the occasion with a message thanking my other half for his support at the time and since. This year I only realised that it had passed because one of those ‘Your memories on Facebook’ posts appeared from 11th September 2014 (clearly showing that I should not have been left in charge of a mobile phone at the time). I think that it is a good thing that I didn’t remember it. Here are some sobering statistics of 5 year survival rates of ischemic stroke. Take care of each other.

Weeknote S1 E7- with not a lot added

Where I went & who I spent time with:
Another week working mostly from home on the *thing*. I got a haircut on Tuesday and went to see my accountant mid week which is always nice. Apart from that I mostly spent time with the dog who is turning into a geriatric so a bit deaf and constantly needing to go outside.

What I did differently & what I learned:
I learned some new ways to use my book keeping software. whoop. I learned that the best time to start planning for retirement is 20 years ago.

Some of what I watched, listened to, read, and/or shared
Rico shared How the ‘Theory of Constraints’ Applies to Government
John wrote Quit Planning Ahead and Keeping People Busy
John also wrote All Companies Have Problems (Some Are Healthy, Some Are Lucky) and Paul shared it
Paul wrote We Need To Promote Outcomes At Work Not Presenteeism
Ben who has recently joined Futuregov wrote about that.
Kate wrote about an event which I was involved with. It was great to see the two teams working closely together and to hear that the feedback was that they got a lot out of it.
– I am reading Content Design by Sarah Richards at the moment (photo below).

What next?
Next week I am back in London and looking forward to meeting a new group of service owners. I have booked to go to a talk as part of London Podcast Festival and I hope to make it to OneTeamGov brekkie again.

Content Design by Sarah Richards

Weeknote S1 E6 – With added dancin’

Where I went & who I spent time with:
I spent another few days working in London this week for the second week of the August Service Owner Programme. They were a really nice group of people from a range of areas of Government and I really enjoyed spending three days in their company. I made it to another #OneTeamGov brekkie on Wednesday morning which featured the women visiting from the New Zealand Government. It was a fascinating conversation, this time about Rachel’s work with the Service Innovation Lab of which I am insanely jealous. If you are able to get to Teacamp on Thursday 7th in London they will be speaking again. I saw Rachel again on Wednesday evening at Women in Tech Speak Up (#WITspeakup) which is the brainchild of Charlotte. I will save the rest of my reflections for another post but what an amazing group of people Charlotte brought together on Wednesday night. The photo at the bottom of the post is a group of us in the roof terrace. If you are on Twitter you will be able to find Paul Clarke’s photos of the dancing. I had a moment before I left for the event, you know the kind of thing…”oooh I was not on Charlotte’s original list of women speakers”… “there will be lots of [insert intimidating adjective here] women at this event”…”I don’t think I will go after all” so I gave myself a bit of a talking to, told myself to woman up, got over there and I am so pleased I did.

What I did differently & what I learned:
I have been turning down the pressure to be constantly on (due to the aforementioned lack of iron and thus energy). I am continuing to learn that it is hard to set boundaries and keep them when people have an expectation based on previous experience. A lot of the expectation comes from myself though and like any habit it takes effort to change.
I am talking to some people about things that I can help them with and I am learning that I need another thing to get my teeth into. Preferably a physical thing.
Thanks to Jane I *learned how to do irish reels at #WITspeakup. *I may not be able to do it again.

Some of what I watched, listened to, read, and/or shared
John shared this “HOW TO BRING TEAMS TOGETHER DURING CRISIS” which I thought had some excellent points.
Helen Bevan shared Lynne Cazilly’s “Leader as Coach: T-o-o s-l-o-w” post. “The leader as facilitator is a different way of behaving and leading. It requires a lift in your thinking and capability.”
– I liked this from John Cutler “Limit, Visualize, and Improve“”(Almost daily) I urge teams to take responsibility for their working agreements, “process”, continuous improvement, and principles. No this is NOT code or a design. But it is the best way, in my opinion, to advocate for craft, sustainability, and not cutting corners. I am often asked to just “set it up”. But I explain that you have to internalize and live these principles. You can’t outsource it.”
– Most weeks I meet someone who would like to better understand APIs (Application Protocol Interfaces). Here is a talk by Andrew Seward “How to Talk about APIs”.
– This is an interesting post on Psychological Safety. I liked the questions at the top and also the example.
Another great post about WIP and flow over resource utilisation.
– Another Christina Wodke post “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Design Thinking” “Design makes ideas tangible so that they can be understood and evaluated before committing them to reality.”

Here is the promised #WITspeakup photo.

Weeknote S1 E5 – With added spinach

Where I went & who I spent time with:
I spent most of the week working from home with a couple of visits to the GDS Academy in Leeds. I spent time with all of the Academy crew but this week, instead of giving everyone a name check I am going to limit myself to the top 3 conversations. I had a couple of really great conversations with Lara, an interesting chat with Al (as always) with whom I share lots of opinions, and a useful catch up with Rob. I had the opportunity on Tuesday to listen to the Academy interns run through the high level of their showcase which was very impressive. It was great to see what they had learned from their experience over the 8 weeks of their internship and their enthusiasm.

What I did differently & what I learned:
This week I have been working on a *thing*. It is a different approach to the existing process and it has been challenging. There are many different needs which need to be considered and I also have a personal preference and way of working which has been developed through my (many) years of working with groups and it is extremely difficult to codify some of that into this particular product. I am also finding it difficult to work in (relative) isolation on this. I am hoping to be able to work more closely with other interested parties from next week.
I learned that I have extremely low iron levels and so if you see me and I am not eating spinach or steak you know what to do.

Some of what I watched, listened to, read, and/or shared
Doug Belshaw shared this “Why you’re more qualified to be a consultant than you think” which I thought was an interesting read.
“Now, what if I told you that you don’t have to do those things? The fact of the matter is, consulting is not just for gurus and tenured professors. It really can be for you, provided you are willing to work tirelessly, learn quickly, and can adjust on the fly.”
– I shared this from BBC News “Why didn’t Electricity immediately change Manufacturing?”.
There are lots of parallels with the Internet/the web/ways of working and everything else I talk about on a daily basis.
– An Internet rabbit hole led me to this which I really liked. This is not limited to teachers. “Teachers Need a Roadmap, Not an Instruction Manual”
– Another excellent post from Paul Taylor“Never believe anyone who says they are busy”
– I found this really interesting from Pretty Agile about Re-squadification
– I shared the link to the lottery for UK GovCamp 2018 tickets.

Spinach for Sharon

Weeknote S1 E4 – With added Blue Whale

Where I went & who I spent time with:
This week I was back in London for the first three days of the Service Owner Programme. It was a small group of seven people representing five different areas of Government. Three people work in the same building but have never met before. It is a very varied group as far as experience is concerned, hopefully next week will be even more useful to them. One of my favourite quotes from last week was “we should be giving the responsibility to someone who is troubled by the problem” and from the same person “you’ve changed my mind completely about this way of working”. Lovely to see @antimega, @danielmac07 in Fulham, @psd @jwaterworth @Lizziew68 @twitrnick @AliceNoakes @RobLeQuesne @BevvySmith @webdoodoo @nunheadneil at GDS on Thursday, @kitterati @GlynRJones @Beatriceemilya & @sheilabennett at #OneTeamGov brekkie on Wednesday, and a bonus tube sighting of @bkamall.

What I did differently & what I learned:
I didn’t do much differently this week (Must try harder) but I am learning how to make the most of the visit to GDS’s new building, where the meeting rooms are and how to use the building for breaks etc.

Some of what I listened to, read, and shared
This post from Sam was a good one about the OneTeamGov breakfast.
More and more of what I am reading is related to complexity theory and I liked this post and the whole site of infographics.
Lots of people liked and retweeted this OneTeamGov post by Emma Charles – Why we need Introverts when I shared it on Twitter.
I enjoyed reading Infrastructure: it’s different (except when it isn’t) by Ellie.
Finally this is my favourite photo (so far) by Rico.

One more thing
So far, I have posted these weeknotes on a Friday but I was busy during the day on Friday and then we took delivery of a grandchild for the weekend and so I will include our exploits here. This weekend was the fourth annual trip to the Natural History Museum in London. We left home just before 8am to get the bus to town and then the train back down to Kings Cross just 44 hours after I left it. New for this year was M having the ability to video call her two year old brother from the train. When we got to the museum at about 12:30 we went straight into Hintze Hall to see Dippy’s replacement which is amazing (Go if you haven’t already seen it). Three and a half hours meeting (stuffed and bony) friends old and new and then we headed for Kings Cross and the traditional *gourmet meal before getting the train back. We had a lovely time but as usual were exhausted by the end of the day. Watch the Horizon programme about Dippy and the Whale on iPlayer until the beginning of September.

*Gourmet chosen by an 8 year old.

Blue Whale at the Natural History Museum

Weeknote S1 E3

Another different week this week

Where I went & who I spent time with:
I mostly spent this week at the GDS academy in Leeds where I worked with Angela, preparing for and running Agile for Teams for a lovely group from DWP. I got to see Ang, Lara, Judith, Harry, Ryan, Annette, Tony and Rob plus Zoe and Martine and met Jo and Alison who did a fantastic tour of the walls for the group on Thursday with a bonus sighting of Kate. I chatted with Martin about the Mentoring stream of work we are doing together for the IAF England and Wales Leadership team. Friday was a working from home day with a few calls but I got to ‘meet’ Nick from Podcast Monster in St Louis via Skype. He was great and we hit it off straight away. I’m hoping he will be able to help me to finally launch my podcast later in the year. Oh and I got an offer from a potential mentor which I am very excited about.

What I did differently & what I learned:
This was a new course for me with similar content but any course is like a new pair of shoes the first time you run it, it feels a bit strange and you have to get used to it. It was lovely to work with Angela, I enjoyed working with a team and am looking forward to running it again in September. I learned that my experience of Prince2 is typical but not universal and found someone who has a sensible pragmatic approach to documentation.

Some of what I listened to, read, and shared
It is too hard to pick a favourite post this week
Another really strong post from Neil about his Kanban practice.
These service design posters from Eliot Hill are lovely
I really liked this post from Simon Stead about being part of a multidisciplinary team.
Another great short post from the Bromford Lab.
I was thinking of recording my weeknotes as an audio version. Das Barrett is already doing it. HT Andy for tweeting about it.
These tweets from Kit about how she and James write blog posts are are brilliant

Well I’m feeling very pleased with myself (smug) as I did not think I would get these out before midnight but here we are with nearly an hour to spare. Have a great weekend.

Weeknote S1 E2

A very different week to last, which is of course the nature of being freelance/a contractor/self employed.

Where I went & who I spent time with:
I mostly spent this week at home and my work was a mixture of preparation for the August cohort of the Service Owner Programme and general planning. As a consequence I have seen almost no-one – my OH, the dog (photo below), the postman, the people at the local shop and Rob via hangout.
On Saturday last week I attended a half day workshop with a renowned public speaker who I have met a couple of times and met a few people there. He was sharing some of the things he has learned. It was really enjoyable and the venue was amazing, take a look at the video. Slack was my friend this week with great conversations happening in four teams.

What I did differently & what I learned:
I pushed myself well out of my comfort zone early this week and it felt really good. Thanks to Mary, Lorena, Kit, Ross and Mick for the encouragement. This is part of a wider thought process about valuable work and where I focus next.
I volunteered to help with OneTeamGov Scotland in November and so I hope to see lots of people there. Different because it is in Scotland and because I didn’t get to the one in London (I am a serial unconference volunteer).

Some of what I listened to, read, and shared
I really enjoyed the second half of this podcast which features Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The link takes you to the second half. The remainder of the podcast is around 15 minutes in length.

This post is interesting. It shows innovation happening when one idea develops into something else, sometimes taking a very long time.

This was a great short read from Mark O’Neil at Department for Education

This was an interesting conversation on Twitter.

I agree with both of these points, Thinking Digital is a great example of a conference which is more than the sum of its parts due to the conversations that happen alongside the talks.

Another interesting post. Why We Traded Scrum for “Science Fair” to Build HubSpot

Two for one, Scott’s post about Roadmaps, which links to Jock’s.

This is probably my favourite of the week. I am particularly interested in innovation in health and in ways that we can help people to understand and manage their conditions better and most importantly improve quality of life. The TWIRL project in Wolverhampton.

Berwick

My (Gallup) Strengths

I enjoy psychometric tests. I enjoy the process of taking them and I like to read what they say. I think that how I answer questions will differ depending on my focus at any one time but I still find them interesting and thought provoking.

Update: Phil has commented about how test results are used. What do you think about psychometric tests?

Some time ago I took the Clifton (Gallup) Strengths finder. Here are my top six strengths according to the test results.

1. Relator – People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.
2. Learner – People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning., rather than the outcome, excites them.
3. Empathy – People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
4. Intellection – People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
5. Futuristic – People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their vision of the future.
6. Developer – People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.

Weeknote S1 E1

I am a big fan of working out loud and have read countless weeknotes (and similar things not called weeknotes) by people like Matt Jukes, Julie Byrne, and Neil Tamplin plus internal weeknotes by my colleagues at GDS. I have been typing up a kind of weeknote for a short while, warming up to making them open (and hopefully better), then last week Kit did a one off note and I decided that now is the time to start publishing them.

So here goes..

Where I went & who I saw:
On Monday I was in Leeds helping a large university to bring a group of people together to work on some improvement activity – Short version – people + brown paper + sticky notes + sharpies + conversation was followed by useful insights. From there I travelled to London and spent most of the rest of the week in Fulham with a brilliant if small group of Service Owners and the fantastic speakers who came to talk to them Adele, Nick S, Al, Angela, Nick T, Kelly, Anais, David, Anne, John and Abby.
While I was in London I visited a friend who I have not seen for 17 years. It is incredible how quickly you can catch up and how similar we still are despite the long interval.
I managed to get to the OneTeamGov breakfast at Treasury on Wednesday morning for a whole 30 minutes which was great but missed out by not being able to stay until the end. It was great to see James C, Kit, James R, Glyn, Liam, David, Mark & everyone else who I have not mentioned. I hope to make it whenever I am in London.
Bonus sightings this week were Bev, Rob, Paul, Sue, Stephen, Ross, Alex & Jim.

What I saw & heard:
Confirmation (if I needed it) that there are still many challenges for people in and around the Service Owner role.
That people value the network we curate.
Lots of brilliant feedback from people who have previously attended the programme and are now sending the details to their colleagues and recommending it.
Lots of people want to work across Government not just in their department/agency/silo/little bit. At the OneTeamGov breakfast but elsewhere too. I love it.

What I did differently & what I learned:
I went out while I was in London and didn’t stay in my hotel eating supermarket humous and flatbread every night ;)
I published a weeknote :meta:
I learned that Tom Peters enjoys a usable online experience.
I learned that Giles is a genius and needs to write a book.

I didn’t hear The Planets by Holst at the Proms as I decided I didn’t have it in me to stand all the way through the performance. I will catch it on iPlayer and remember last year when I was sitting right beside the stage.

Me at the Proms (The Planets) in 2016