A quieter week. Less done. Unless you count recuperation as an activity, by which we did lots. Energy requires space and attention to renew.

What did I do?

  • Charted the course of Q3 for the team, finishing first everything that we’ve already started
  • Shared practices and ideas with a team in CDDO
  • Caught up with people in one-to-ones
  • Hosted the team show & tell
  • Shaped the final coaching session with our coach, Stefan
  • Joined our regular sprint planning session
  • Shared ideas on how to make leadership more aware of the impact the directorate has
  • Jotted down some notes on scaling user research in the team
  • Lightly planned an epic for migrating our website from one host to another
  • Reviewed the business case for a contract
  • Chatted to our Head of Product about capacity needs
  • Shared rationale for a release plan
  • Went to a talk by Matt, which was excellent
  • Planned a creative jam week for the team to create materials and activities that exude our values, principles and culture
  • Checked in with the senior management team, reporting on success of Design System Day and progress of GOV.‌UK Frontend v5.0
  • Shuffled various things along
  • Started getting a picture of what downtime over the festive break might be like

Now that I’ve seen it written down, that’s a fair bit of work. In fact, I did 29 tasks (at least) this week, which is close to the weekly average. Around 40% of that was unplanned work, but I did manage to make progress on 2 of the 5 goals I set at the start of the week. I achieved 1 goal for the week and deprioritised 2 others.

There’s still a buzz on the team after Design System Day, and we’re leaning in to that momentum. Speaking to more users, questioning the existing model, thinking about risky decisions. Treasury Brain will ask you to link cause to effect and monetary value, but there’s always some hard-to-quantify positive overspill.

Everyone should read the BBC’s research into how people feel about the world. It’s a fabulous resource and I’m grateful to them for publishing research openly. Maybe public investment in research and innovation could break the hype cycle?

Matt’s talk

The main point I wanted to pull from Matt’s talk was related to burnout.

The toll a purpose-driven job takes on people is widely regarded in health and care settings. You invest a little bit of yourself in every interaction with a patient, and it’s similar in digital public service. Even though you act with impartiality and you’re not always working directly with humans, your work is essentially humanist, for the benefit of your fellow people. And that can be draining.

So people and organisations need to be aware of that and focus on prevention of mental, physical and emotional burnout.

But if you zoom out from the organisation, you can see that everyone went through the same pandemic, but not everyone recovered in the same way. So now is probably a good time to be a little more cognisant of how people are coping and whether they’re doing well or not.

Matt’s published his talk on his website.


Last night I went to watch a film about Jenny Tough, a super cool fastpacker. The film had an unexpected message about feminism and how our society is still too obsessed with body image, which was fantastic. Check out her videos if you haven’t before.

Chatting with Martin on the way home, I lamented on how I’d only done one fastpacking trip this year. I’m a little bit annoyed at myself for that, I think I probably worked too much, didn’t take the right kinds of holiday. Having said that, I was also focused on training for my first long distance race, so chaining together several long runs over a few days would have hampered my training.

Maybe I won’t run an ultra next summer. Instead I’ll do some adventuring.

Could I fit something in this autumn? It’s very soggy now but it does mean the hillsides will be empty. And there’s nothing quite like being out there alone.