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.


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

Trello Chrome extension linking Parent/Children/Sibling cards

I added the Chrome extension Ultimello recently to show the number of cards. The other day I noticed a button on my cards named Conections (by Ultimello). You can see it in the image below under Actions.

It creates links between cards in the description of the cards.

I will create an animation or a video over the weekend and update this.

Thinking Digital 2017

Last week I attended my third Thinking Digital Conference at the Sage in Gateshead. To quote someone else it is like a holiday for your brain. I never look at the programme before I go, I trust that Herb and the team will have gathered a really interesting group of speakers and that my brain will find some relevance. The talks which I got the most out of this time around were Dr Anita Sengupta and Adrian Westaway’s. Anita’s enthusiasm and thirst for learning and trying new things made her talk really engaging. Adrian shared the great insight of looking for where the experience usually drops and focus on making that magical (plus a story about a man with a chicken tied to his back).

I met great people, some for the third time, some for the second time and some for the very first time. Every visit I make an effort to connect with new people as well as speaking to people I already know. I missed the last session of the afternoon as I took the opportunity of having an interesting conversation in the Sage cafe (not for the first time). That for me is the real draw of the event, all of the fascinating conversations around the fascinating speakers.

What did I learn?
Lots from Christian Payne‘s Livestreaming Video 101 Workshop (watch this space). Darren Jobling’s talk gripped me from the start with his storytelling style and was a great reminder about getting your message across. I also really liked his plan, people and culture section. Mark Mullen reminding us all that it’s better to have a vacant post than a disruptive influence in our businesses, although those were not the words he used :) Check out the videos.

As I crossed the Tyne on my pre-booked train home I pledged to book an extra night’s accommodation and plan some fridge events next time. See you at TDC18?

LeedsJelly is back from a bit of a rest. We are meeting at T bar and Kitchen in the Tetley from 10am on Friday 2nd June. If you are interested in relaxed co-working come and join us. Sign up on attending.io.

Date: June 2, 2017
Event: LeedsJelly June 2017
Venue: T Bar and Kitchen
Location: The Tetley, Hunslet Rd,
Leeds LS10 1JQ

Easy alternative to Skype/Hangouts etc

I have heard about appear.in before but had not used it. After hearing about it again from @quiffboy in a Slack team I decided to try it out today and was impressed. I found it simple to use and I like some of the features such as claiming a URL (so that you can use the same one for regular meetings for example) and being able to lock a room (so that guests have to ‘knock’).

Go to appear.in using Chrome or Firefox and give it a try.

Learning together – being apart

What would a great virtual learning community look like?

I love being in the room with people but I also like being at home.  After working for over three years* delivering sessions to people in London, Cardiff, Belfast, Newcastle and places in between I would like to spend a little less time in hotels and on trains. Recently I have found it impossible to get a good night’s sleep for the majority of my visits due to noisy roads, noisy customers in the hotel, noisy lift gear and on one notable occasion being in a hotel next door to the apartment of a band practising Seven Nation Army until 1 am. I have also struggled in through illness and would have been much more comfortable (and less contagious) in my own space and am more and more irritated by things that are outside of my control such as travel disruption and bad weather.

I get the same feedback from the people who attend the programmes I run. They miss being at home with their families, begrudge the time spent travelling and are concerned about the cost to their department and the environmental impact. There is value in them being away from the office, with people from diverse workplaces and to meet a wide range of knowledgeable speakers but do the benefits outweigh the downsides and is there a viable alternative?

I would like to test this. I am looking for people who are interested in a virtual learning community. I don’t know exactly what it will look like yet because it will depend on the needs of the people who are part of it.

If you would be interested in helping me to test my hypothesis please get in touch.

Email: hello [at] sharondale.co.uk

Twitter: @pixlz

*Three years in this role but a total of six years in the previous ten requiring work away from home.