It has been a much brighter week this week, both weather- and work-wise. Other people have said they found last week tough too, which might be attributed to the clocks changing. Rhythms were out of step.

Things I shuffled along

We’re 57% the way through our key result for having all services with at least 3DS1 enabled. It’s mostly a comms effort so not too taxing, but it can be time-consuming. Clear emails with the right level of detail will always lose out when people are trained in the art of ‘a quick chat’. It’s an expensive art.

I wrote a list of outcomes we need to reach to call the quarter done. Hierarchically they sit beneath our OKRs, but with a bit of work they could become our key results. There’s quite some overlap. Having said that, efforts would be better focused on how we report business metrics in check-ins (in my opinion).

We spent a couple of hours planning out the rest of the quarter as we’re over the hump now, we’ve got many of the high-level unknowns figured out. The remaining unknowns can be turned into knowns through the usual UCD process of research, design and testing. The good stuff! Our user researcher, interaction designer, delivery manager and myself took an hour or so to discuss the riskiness and uncertainty of our design interventions, which helped reduce the scope of what we need to research, design and test. Someone made the comment that doing it that way, over a longer chat and shared documents, was better than more asynchronous methods. I agree!

Things I started

I put together a video update on our OKRs but, due to software issues on my work MacBook, didn’t finish it and wasn’t able to send it out. Oh well, I’ll try again next week. I want to see if communicating with the team works done this way. Not everyone likes reading emails and documents, and calendars don’t always have free space.

Given that we need to know what the market needs in order to solve its problems, I started drafting a survey to help us make roadmap decisions based on services’ needs. It’ll give us some signals as to what people need, whether those are clear or need investigation.

Some puzzles

The puzzles from last week remain.

Other things

Me and a few other people from the Social Mobility Network chatted to folks at the Patchwork Foundation about how we got into the Civil Service and what we do in our roles. They seemed like they were pretty engaged, hopefully they’ll do well. I think if I had to give 16-year-old me some advice it would be ‘Don’t change who you are to fit in’. Stripping oneself of one’s identity – changing your accent, your clothes, and other aspects – is playing into the gatekeepers’ hands.

I raised an issue on the Kramdown repo about how footnotes aren’t accessible, and pointed to some work done by the GOV.UK Accessibility team to improve theirs. I think I’ve narrowed down what would need to change in Kramdown, so I’ve raised a pull request. Making footnotes more accessible across hundreds of thousands of blogs would be a win. It shows how government working in the open can make things better elsewhere. A few hundred quid of taxpayers’ money spent improving the government website also improves websites across the globe.

NaBloPoMo has continued and I’ve written a post every day. Here’s an index of blog posts from National Blog Writing Month 2020.

It’s now one week since I touched any booze. Only three more to go.

Ben got in touch to tell me how Conor’s ‘boring magic’ phrase had inspired a talk with Michael Marriott, the furniture and product designer. Michael’s work looks a lot like it would suit a shop on Charing Cross Road selling things from the DIY section of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal this Book. It’s beautiful stuff. I grabbed a ticket, and I’m really looking forward to the talk about reuse.

There’s been lots of activity off the back of my post about how I’ve reduced the carbon emissions associated with this website. It has been featured in a couple of newsletters and forums, a couple of people have decided to lower their carbon emissions (1, 2), and both the ethics and pointlessness of doing so have been discussed. I’ll have to write a follow-up.

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