Steve Messer

The Snorlax

Weeknotes S01E07

Remember in Pokémon Red when a giant beast blocked the road ahead? It was sleeping soundly but looked like a terrifying adversary. Your prods and pokes did nothing to rouse it, but still it lay there, blocking the way. To get past it, you had to go on a convoluted journey to beat your sporting rivals, climb atop a tower and eventually be handed a special flute. Then you had the fight the beast.

This week was mostly planning a convoluted journey in a short space of time, and we’ve still got to fight the beast. As a result, this week’s notes are shorter and less reflective. It was a busy week and I’m still tired.

Four Things That Happened

We did more things than this

One

I met our new head of data science. They’re giving a talk at the next product & service manager community meet-up, so we touched base to say hello and for me to offer help (with my ProductBuro hat on). Though the data science community is small, made up of ~6 people parachuted into teams as needed, it‘ll help product teams learn more about their world and the problem space.

What’s important about this talk is it’ll give the community some context: how data scientists work, their tools and processes, the sorts of questions data science can answer. Data science can teach us a lot, but understanding the boundaries of what it can deliver, in what timeframe, is essential. No one wants to be asked to complete a PhD project in 3 months.

Two

And in relation to that, Martin and I JFDI’d starting a data science course! I’ve been thinking about doing something since early July and Martin wanted to get involved too, so we made a start on the best data science course as according to one data scientist. It’s a pretty general overview of the tools and techniques, and I’m excited to play with SQL again, and it’ll be a nice deep-dive into that world. If we end up making a project, I’ll blog about it.

Three

The workshop to help a department with a thorny Brexit thing happened. It went quite well and they’re happy to get moving. I found it very tiring though – four hours leading four people through a sort-of design sprint. Couldn’t have done it without Elliot’s tech involvement and Nick’s delivery management though. Haven’t really had much chance to step back and think about the consultancy model for ‘selling’ our products into other transformation programmes, but will make a note to do so.

Four

Another Brexit shaped thing swooped in, which actually dominated the week. It’s a massive milestone in our roadmap (in everyone’s lives too) and the lack of clarity on what people will need to do come March 2019 is troubling. However, there’s ways in which we prepare for that and make GOV.UK’s vision – the best place to find government services and information – central to how the country will navigate exiting the EU. We spent a good two days looking through a Brexit lens at our propositions for the next six months.

It doesn’t change our strategy on Platform Health much, we’re still focused on scaling the platform to meet increased demand. We’ve been viewing everything through a Brexit lens anyway, deprioritising anything which wouldn’t contribute to meeting its demands.

Reflections

  • Working with other professions is great – expand your world
  • Working with data requires ‘a deep appreciation for what is possible and what will soon be possible’ (thanks to Trey Causey for this)
  • Working with other departments is an eye-opener
  • Oh mate, Brexit

What We’re Cooking

  • Sun-dried tomato & spinach linguine with courgette carpaccio (raw courgette marinated in anchovy oil, chilli, garlic and white wine vinegar)
  • Baba ghanoush, hummus and lemon & parsley freekeh

What I’m Reading