Steve Messer

The Successful Experiment

Weeknotes S01E09

The last two weeks have been really packed, so you might find this set of weeknotes quite brief. I’m giving myself a breather. The practice is valuable but isn’t without cost, so this is a little mid-series rest. Perhaps I’ll try one of the other formats or try inventing my own.

Is there a list of formats, #weeknotes crew? Let me know!

EDIT: Sam put together a post on the styles used across the weeknotes community.

Four Things That Happened

We did more things than this

One

Blasted through the inbox. Had a meeting with a council finish early and a meeting with a colleague was also cancelled, giving me more time to work through stuff.

Caught up with a department on their progress, all moving along nicely.

Also spent an hour with Joe talking about OKRs, KPIs, etc. Mainly chatted about the framework that’s been rolled out across GDS, how it’s working for other programmes but doesn’t fit well with GOV.UK. Suspect we’ve always been a bit of a different beast but I’d like to introduce experimentation to our team’s approach next quarter, to make us think about measurability more.

Had a blog post published – yay! The first one I’ve written since joining GDS in January, which is great because their blogging was part of what inspired me to apply.

Two

Got the Q3 missions close to being finalised in the GOV.UK PM community meet-up. Everyone’s sold on our mission, to continue improving the publishing pipeline and stress test it for Brexit: high load, concurrent jobs and reliable tools. I thought about a simple open roadmap for GOV.UK, might have to get one going during firebreak.

Also met with Mark, who’s with DExEU briefly, and our 2nd Line crew to cover the next big Brexit publishing event – the second round of technical notices. We’ve got a different tactic this time, based on the sequence of events last time, and we’ll be testing out our new cache invalidation service. Everyone was pretty calm and felt secure, the rounds of testing definitely helped. The Game Day approach to getting through worrying times is great.

Three

Randomly got to meet the new head of product management community, Jon. He caught wind on Slack that we were heading to a ProductTank on internal products and we invited him along. Went for a curry at Tayyab’s first, with Emily and Martin too, a great way to induct someone into the PM community! Also gave us an opportunity to learn about him informally, and to tell him about the culture at GDS, how we’re wary of anything too corporate.

Honestly, I thought it was a pretty naff ProductTank, but I finally got to meet @jukesie which was awesome! Been following that guy on Twitter for years, glad to have the chance to say hello. Can’t wait for the #weeknotes meet-up in Bristol now.

Four

The publishing of the technical notices went like a breeze. And our experiment with cache invalidation worked! 🎉 We were able to serve new and updated content quickly, with fewer of the imperfections of last time. This not only gives us confidence that our hypotheses for fixes are correct, we’ve also made considerable improvements this quarter. We’re writing a blog post on that work, will share it when it’s ready, but there’s a big headline metric for the end of quarter Show & Tell we can be proud of.

Reflections

  • OKRs are there to help you be objective in a complicated world of ‘delivering value’
  • Simulating failure in a safe environment is an incredible way to learn more about your systems
  • Community is central to the human experience
  • We know what’s healthy, what’s not and how to fix things

What I’m Reading

After Ellie taught me about low spoons, I’ve looked at my own mental capacity in a different light. The past couple weeks have been a bit busy, so I’ve avoided stuffing my head with more information this week.