This week I

  • archived a page
  • prepared and delivered a talk on impact for the GDS Get Together
  • joined mid-sprint review
  • replied to the ONS about harmonisation standards
  • prepared a talk on behavioural economics and ethics
  • handed a financial management task over to a new delivery manager
  • updated our product development model with the roles I play and what I need to be successful at each stage
  • joined a great product community session (props to Tom for sticking at it)
  • prepared and delivered a workshop on creating a shared space that embraces remote-first working
  • helped scope the initial phase of adding the show/hide password component to the design system
  • wrote the team’s weeknote
  • attended a team coaching session

Busy week with two full in-person days, which were really enjoyable. Tiring though. Spent most of my time preparing slide decks!

Tracking work

Last week I was just about keeping on top of my work so decided to try Roger’s system for tracking work and keeping focus this week. How did it go?

I made sure to use the time at the start of each day to plan what I was going to do, which is the main improvement I wanted to make. Success! Tracking my tasks throughout the day was OK, I kept a Notion page open to remind me to fill it in. But I did occasionally forget. Maybe I’ll create an automation that asks me what I’m doing every 30 mins, a bit like Michael used dot-tracking for. Perhaps it’s an over-optimisation though, another notification to add to a lifetime full of pings.

In total I completed 17 tasks, most of those were planned but 5 were unplanned tasks that popped up. My achievement rate was 50%, as I achieved 3 of the 6 goals I set for the week. The 3 goals I didn’t achieve have been bumped to next week, as more important and urgent things came up, and these 3 goals didn’t need to happen this week. So I’m pretty happy with that.

It turned out that I didn’t need to do one of the goals I set myself at all. Having thought there was nothing lined up for our product community session, I pulled together a talk that Tom had asked me to do, but there was already something arranged. My bad: I’ll be more careful with setting myself work to do outside the team.

Feels like a good system so far!

Design system impact

David and I gave a talk at the GDS Get Together on Friday on the subject of impact. Instead of showing a bunch of slides with numbers on, we told the story of how the GOV.‌UK Design System influences organisations across the UK public sector and globally. And how we focus more on making impact through multiplier effects.

We’re not just here to build components and patterns. We needed to do a lot of that in the early years, but now we make more impact through multiplier effects: like modernising our conventions on JavaScript, assessing how new accessibility criteria for WCAG 2.2 will affect UI design, updating components and patterns in response, and running community workshops to share knowledge and improve skills across the Civil Service.

And we don’t just look after a product or service. We’re part of an active global conversation on how people use the web. We feed back into accessibility working groups and technical specifications, we raise bugs with browser vendors, and we influence many international organisations – including W3C’s design system.

It makes sense having a centralised team doing this at scale, for the benefit of service teams and users. There’s diminishing returns on us adding more and more components to the design system, so I’m going to look at how we can better enable our community to do this (and iterate what they add).

Our team’s best work is at the system level, and there are plenty of teams innovating, creating new components and patterns for the GOV.‌UK ecosystem. There’s some work to do in shifting perceptions, as we’re some times seen as a design authority – but our purpose is design enabler.

Anyway, lots of work to do. I’m shaping a discovery and discussions with teams in the run up to Design System Day, so will have more to say on this later.

Shared spaces

In the Before Times, we’d put posters up on the wall. We’d huddle around a TV during standup, we’d stick things on our desks, and we’d scribble on whiteboards as part of our work. But that all happens inside tools now. Those tools look different for each person on the team, and there’s no shared front page. The sense of team unity and having a shared space becomes fractured.

So I asked the team what we might do to rekindle that sense of unity in a way that embraces hybrid remote-first working.

There were lots of great ideas including stickers, desktop backgrounds, desk toys, internal blogs and podcasts for team memories, NPC team-mates, and ways to personalise our sanitary, functional project boards.

That last one is a big one. Why are JIRA, GitHub Projects, Linear and other project management solutions so lifeless and devoid of character? With Trello we could add backgrounds to boards, but what about team photos, stickers, posters and other personal items. What if when you dragged a card to Done, an NPC popped up and said ‘Hey, it look likes your team-mate needs a hand, wanna review this card?’

Bring the fun back to where we work.

Design System Day

The main thing to note is that there’s a ballot for day 1 tickets and day 2 tickets are currently sold out, but there’s a second tranche coming shortly. (We’ve shared links with the community but not outside the community yet, but add them to the socials when allowed.)

Running

Took most of the week off, except a short easy run on Wednesday. Thought about doing a fast 5K at Park Run today, but I’m too tired from this week’s socialising (and drinking). Back off the booze next week but it’s been good to hang out with a beer.

Legs feel good. Had a bit of pain on Wednesday evening after being sat down at Live at The Apollo for too long but the pain hasn’t lasted.

I’m going to join a local running club next week, think I’m ready to acknowledge this is no longer a temporary get-fit plan, it’s a big, enjoyable hobby.

House-work

Only worked from home once this week, and I’ve got lots of travel coming up, so going to stay back at base this weekend and do some jobs around the house. Polyfilling, painting, putting up pictures, potter in the garden. Wholesome.

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