Steve Messer

The Reflection

Weeknotes S03E06

It’s all coming together. An impromptu beer with Trilly on Monday set me up for a reflective week. So here’s to the next 12 months!

Four Things That Happened

We did more things than this

One

About half the week was spent writing up my performance objectives for the year. This involves setting a deliverable (it’s an outcome, really), describing the behaviours for how you’ll achieve it, and then relating things you’ve actually done to those behaviours. For example, I wanted to manage and reduce the massive backlog on Platform Health, so I set up points during the week to do that, created a bugs prioritisation framework (with Martin) and actively worked through cards. Each retro we reported the number of bugs and other cards dealt with.

I had various objectives described and met like that.

  • Manage the massive backlog
  • Contribute to the GDS product management community
  • Have a sustainable workload
  • Lead the team on pipeline work
  • Identify opportunities to make GOV.UK healthier
  • Frame problems and set priorities for product work
  • Work in the open
  • And more

You get the picture.

Filling in the sheet was time-consuming but not as laborious as it could have been, thanks to having written weeknotes since July 2018. It was good to reflect on the last 12 months as a whole.

Two

Paola and I spoke to the Estonian government about their state portal, X-Road and the intersection between service provision, legislation, politics and representation. I wondered how they might ensure universal and fair high-quality service delivery for people not part of the digital programme. Apparently 98% of people have access to a computer and the Internet – but that doesn’t mean they can or do use it. It’s good that they’re an enabler of GDPR though and people aren’t limited by needing to apply for things, their citizens can get benefits automatically. They also save 240 working hours every 3 minutes.

I need to speak to Pete H about when he visited Estonia in 2013.

Three

We also chatted to Allan Donald at the BBC about their personalisation of content. As a semantics and metadata fan, it was pretty interesting, but so too were the tales of their content operating model and governance. It has not been without its trials and tribulations. He’s coming to visit to tell us more about how it works and what problems it solves, which is really good.

Needless to say, research into this space continues but we’ll not draw any conclusions until we’ve heard the voice of users.

Four

After a few back-and-forth messages with HMCTS over the last couple of months, they’re looking at moving towards publishing in HTML rather than updating 50 PDFs every day. It means they don’t have to get in touch every time there’s an anonymity order and their content will be more accessible. The cost to them? ‘Not much of a problem’ according to one of their people.

This all came about because I spent 15 minutes chatting on the phone after they sent through an urgent support request. 15 minutes spent understanding the nature of their problem, assessing the options together, which gave us chance to deliver a better, long-term solution for all.

Just 15 minutes chatting to another human.

Reflections

What I Learned

That I need to change my weeknotes slightly, so that they feed directly into my performance objectives. Might as well make them work for me.

What I Could Do Better

Spend more time thinking about next quarter. This will help in check-in next week and feed into planning for next quarter too.

Reading

I’ve not been reading as much the past couple of weeks, need to fix that.