Things I started

Started the week with frustration at people who don’t follow good meeting hygiene. After venting, I spent 20 minutes dutifully accepting and denying events, sending apologies to those that overlapped with more important meetings. Sent feedback to the people who don’t add objectives to meeting invitations and moved on.

Saw a couple of DataConnect sessions this week. One got me so enthused about possibilities that I blogged about it.

Chatted to our service owner about service assessments and any concerns or questions they may have. Their main worry was about whether the process would derail our progress or force us to create many unnecessary documents. After explaining how a service assessment works, what happens and the potential outcomes, they said: ‘This sounds like it isn’t a gated process?’ YES! Reader, I was overjoyed. As we know, a gated process isn’t agile. They get it too.

Spoke to a team working on the NHS App about my time working on personalisation at GOV.UK. They’re doing a pre-discovery and I shared the work Paola, Mark, Kate, Mia, Tim and I did in January 2019.

Reviewed the product manager handbook our Lead PM wrote for our directorate, Data Services. Receiving that thing on your first day, whether you’re familiar with public sector digital practices or not, would set you up for success. It’s cracking.

Started planning what I’m calling ‘stakeholder week’ for next week. I’ve been on the frontline a lot the past fortnight, and though I have been building a relationship with our service owner, I could do more. I’d like to build a better understanding of what success looks like for their role, get a deeper understanding of how our partner teams work, and initiate relationships with senior executives. (Especially because a couple of director-level folks turned up to our show & tell, which I wasn’t expecting!) Took lots of notes from an 18F guide (see the bookmarks at the bottom).

Things I shuffled along

This week was all about ideating solutions, playing back our findings, and co-designing solutions with an enabling team working on the service. Heady work that requires a lot of thinking. Our user researcher and service designer did a great job of bringing our colleagues along on the journey though, encouraging audience participation in the playback and running a co-design workshop for people who aren’t familiar with coming up with products and services. They did a super good job. (I did my fair amount of boundary-setting and scope-shaving, as is necessary when folks have had their head in a space for several weeks. But they did a lot this week.)

Our service owner continued facilitating talks and a workshop about the process for onboarding new users. The consensus from last week was maintained, all up until the final meeting when everyone realised they were talking at cross purposes. I suggested we try again the following week but, this time, using a Mural board so that we have something tangible to talk around. Our service owner thought it was a great idea and others nodded. A small victory for user-centred design methods. 🎉

After going over the scope of changes to our legal & commercial terms, our commercial specialist set about compiling a list of questions about the service and the platform it relies on, which feed into the design of the agreements. In an hour-long meeting on Friday, we got the majority of questions answered. It felt like the meeting might get derailed by a senior leader at one point, but it the meeting ended productively regardless.

Props to my delivery manager who’s being an excellent silo-smasher, joining dots between teams and helping them share the load when working on similar things. He encouraged someone else take delivery ownership of the legal & commercial terms, which provided a catalyst to get it done (something that had been stalling for months).

I closed the survey on themes for the Product People unconference in November. There were two clear winners:

  • Shaping the future
  • Keeping product culture living and breathing

James and I iterated my talk on blogging and working in the open, turning it into more of a talk about the value of working in the open and examples (not just blogging) in NHS Digital. We want to inspire people to get started with whatever method feels accessible.

Some puzzles

My calendar is surprisingly empty next week. I’ve blocked off all the gaps so that I can catch up on my work for the alpha, including the presentation deck.

Other things

Camping last weekend was lots of fun, and we’ll get to mark off the final 25 miles of the South Downs Way soon.

It did make my minor cold worse though. My body’s crying out for recovery, I’ll have to take it easy this weekend. (Donating blood on Thursday may not have helped.)

I fixed that bug with NetNewsWire. No idea how it happened but if feeds on your iOS app aren’t consistent with feeds on the macOS app, using iCloud, follow these steps.

Friday afternoon was soundtracked by

Not much to say about the news, apart from Charlie Stross nailed it:

If the UK was a developing world country I’d be getting worried about a military coup round about now.