Steve Messer

The Timebox 2

Weeknotes S06E02

Felt absolutely shagged this week, off the back of spending last weekend in France at a wedding with very little sleep. Having said that, it was worth it to see old friends, buddies I miss, and to eat those oysters in Avignon farmer’s market.

Tiredness aside, we’ve achieved what we needed to and can plough into next week with gusto. C’est bon!

Good things

Spending Monday at Pivotal’s London offices was a welcome break from the GDS office, allowing us to get some thoughts and thinking out of our heads, stuck up on a board. Also they have tons of freebies so, wow, we were nourished and watered well.

Having been deskless at GDS for two weeks – which was really starting to grate on me – we settled into our team space on Thursday which really lifted everyone’s spirits. We’re in a brightly lit corner with windows and plenty to look out on, which is useful when you’re future-gazing.

Will has been very helpful in facilitating a couple of sessions, I’ve been really grateful of his presence this week. Also Conor and Paola have been great in crystallising the group’s thoughts, they’re great orators.

Chatting to Richard on Wednesday was excellent. I’d intended to meet him for a while and it was really enjoyable talking about the digital government space with someone who played a huge part in creating it.

On Wednesday I had to do a bit of a rallying call as I felt that everyone was losing confidence in what we were doing, or at least weren’t totally bought into the mission. It worked as everyone seemed enthusiastic to get stuck in afterwards, especially as we were able to clear up some unknowns. I had to put myself forward as a vulnerable leader to do it, had to profess that things weren’t perfect and soak up some criticism to alleviate the group’s woes.

Learned things

Giving everyone two days to zoom in to aspects of the problem space was beneficial, as it helped ground our thinking on the reality of possibility. Each team member playing their learning back to the group seemed to bring everyone to the same level of understanding too. So when you’re dealing with something far off and theoretical, starting small on immediate evidence is a good thing.

Difficulties

The students on the product management course at General Assembly had their first open session, a chance to chat about anything they liked or get detailed direction on their projects. Most of my students have been fine and I’ve had a couple of one-to-ones with them, nudging their work slightly, but one is struggling. They’re not grasping what a problem or pain point is, meaning they’re creating solutions that aren’t feasible or viable. Coaching them through that was tough.

Similarly, I’m having remind myself that it’s OK to be solutionising on my project at work because that’s what we’ve been asked to do. We’re doing just enough validation to carry ideas forward, but there’s no suggestion that our final outputs will be cast in stone – thankfully. That said, it feels dirty to not be working on clear problems, though I suspect every grand idea needs to start with a bit of future-casting.

Achievements

We ended the week with some sketches which can form the beginnings of a service map, some prototypes, and tangible things that we can iterate over the next couple of weeks. This is ideal. It’s what we needed by the end of this week in order to reach the deadline.

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