Coming back to writing weeknotes for two reasons:
- A bunch of people started writing weeknotes recently, and it’s lovely to read new voices in the mix
- I’m doing work at the moment that my future self could benefit from reading back
So I’m here to properly close off series 10.
Frankly, I was worried [writing weeknotes] might get me into trouble at work, so big thanks to Rox for being so inspiring and encouraging about working in the open and for actually doing it herself too.
So if you’ve been umming and ahhing about writing weeknotes for a while, you should know that you totally have permission to reflect on your own work in the open. It’s rocket fuel for smart collaboration.
These are quite long but I feel better having it out of my head. Phew.
Things I shuffled along
Much of the week was spent on wrapping up our current mission in a responsible way. We’ve learned some things through our research but need to act on those later, so I spent time updating the product decision record for Strong Customer Authentication and the design decision record for redesigning the paying user journey. There’s a couple of loose ends to tie off in the redesign work which when done can become prioritised stories in the Police Cat backlog.
That meant I got to spend a couple of hours with our interaction designer, talking about how we’ll make 3D Secure less of a hurdle for users with accessible needs and how we’ll package up the work neatly in a presentation. They mocked up some changes, ran it past our content designer, and next we’ll need to review it as a team, so I’ll set up a small crit for next week to bring our developer in too.
I also updated our accessibility statement, iterated our 3D Secure guidance and refreshed our public roadmap with the work we’re doing now, next and later. There’s a new section listing what we’ve learned from research that I’m hoping our partner services will find useful to know about or that might encourage further discussion with us. I’m still thinking about deeper collaboration with service teams.
A meeting with HM Treasury and Government Finance Function went really well, the relationship is definitely blossoming, and it’s clear how we can all collaborate to drive positive outcomes for the management of public money, for government departments and for paying users. Similarly so for a catch-up with Government Banking Service, it was really positive and I’m looking forward to working with them more.
Chatting to Angus about GDS’s strategy was lovely too, it was good to bounce thoughts off each other. Grateful that I’ve got some opportunity to have input and put out something that not only inspires team but gives them a rubric for checking their progress. Direction, guard-rails and a set of coherent actions. Onwards, as they say.
Things I started
Policy people at GDS do the heavy-lifting on translating digital concepts into something that people at the centre of government can understand, so I’m glad to be working with one of our policy folk on presenting GOV.UK Pay to our new leadership and people in Cabinet Office. It’ll be useful to learn the language they use too, as it’ll lubricate conversations with Ministers and their cadre.
I booked some workshops to check on our team’s health and work–life balance, leaning on a template that Leisa Reichelt put together at Atlassian. The findings will help us make sure that we’re providing the right support for everyone on Pay and that our working life is in balance with our home life. We’ll write about how the findings help us, and we need to update everyone on how no-meetings days have been going too.
I threw together a MURAL board for our inception workshop when we kick off the discovery in two week’s time, based on Will Myddleton’s post about setting up discoveries for success, which it turned out the Stroopwaffel team had done too. It’d be cool to start building up some resources we can re-use across Pay, maybe I’ll chat to people about that. I also prepped some slides for the discovery kick-off, which will have the discovery team pitching ideas alongside the senior management team and our directors. Everyone starting together.
If I’m honest, the main puzzle has been how to maintain focus and motivation as there’s quite a lot on my plate…on everyone’s plate. I’m buoyed by the new cohort we’re teaching through General Assembly on Mondays and Wednesdays but 12-hour days will start to grate unless I’ve got some discipline.1 Pushing myself physically when exercising at lunch time has been a help there, and the endorphins help!
I’ve really been enjoying running again, and all injury-free! Quite funny yesterday when I pushed myself too hard though, aiming for a 4:00/ki pace in interval training (8 lots of 600m). I barely managed 4:30/ki at my fastest so I stopped and will try again today for 4:45/ki. Noticing when you’re pushing yourself too hard, adjusting and setting out with a new goal is a good thing to be doing though.
Loved watching Daniel Day-Lewis films recently, hoovering up The Phantom Thread and There Will Be Blood in one week. What a star.
My guilty pleasure has been Married At First Sight: Australia which I know is trashy and sometimes scripted and definitely not good society (probably), but it’s the perfect antidote to a serious day of work. And isn’t the new UK season of Drag Race way better than the new US season?
Got 500g of loose leaf tea in from Seibiant so every cup is a luxury. Get yourself some decent brews, it makes the day sail by more easily. (Also, I can recommend buying a big slab of pancetta and cutting your own bacon on Saturdays, such a treat.)
- My first weeknote, 6 mins
- A GDS Story 2020, 10 mins
- S01E01: Reboot, 4 mins
- How to win arguments and actually change someone’s mind, 4 mins
- Fixing problems with our oral culture, 10 mins
- Let’s talk about negative interest rates - speech by Silvana Tenreyro, 30 mins
- How Claude Shannon Invented the Future, 7 mins
- Health and tech groups aim to create digital Covid vaccination passport, 4 mins
- Week 1 on GOV.UK, 3 mins
- Weeknote 1, 21/01/21: What’s the worst that could happen?, 3 mins
- S01E03: Rejoice, 3 mins
- S01E02, 3 mins
I know this isn’t sustainable in the long term, but there are some things we have to get done. So I’m pushing myself harder while I know I’ve built up some reserves since November. ↩
Accessibility, digital exclusion and barriers, plus some thoughts on distributing areas of responsibility amongst a team.
We’re in a liminal zone, a headspace between two periods but only present physically in one. It’s a headtrip to operate that way.
Spreadsheets, frustration, low spoons and a lightbulb moment.