Weeknotes 09/12/2018 – Week 14

Crunch time at work. A couple of sprints from a big delivery date, I know this is not very agile but here we are. Think we will meet our goals but it might be a bit of a push.

This week I managed to get to a couple of talks, both on Wednesday. First up was James Boardwell speaking as part of the Sheffield Hallam University Curated By series. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Learnt a lot and also got nostalgic about some of the classics James was referencing. Think it may have sparked a future blog post about formative years.

Also went to see a talk at Agile Sheffield on User Research.
It was half presentation half workshop hosted by Claudio Pires Franco, who is currentlyu working with NHS DIgital (who are doing some brilliant work and have some brilliant people). Perfect subject for some work we are trying to do at the moment. Unfortunately there was not enough time to do the workshop parts fully. I think it was more of a half/full day kind of thing rather than two hours it was attempted in. Still well worthwhile though.

A lazy week exercise wise post the 10k run last Sunday. My parent were staying with us for week too which means babysitters on tap which means lots of chances to visit places with special taps. 

Watched Mission Impossible: Fallout which was boring. Tom Cruise was more enthralling in his recent video demanding people switch off the motion smoothing controls on their TVs. Not been reading much either. Half way through Mick Herron’s London Rules which is pretty good but is Brexit/Fuax Farage related and it feels a little forced and too close to real life but not real enough. Jackson Lamb still hilarious mind you.

Took a trip to Hillsborough to see Wednesday vs Rotherham. First half as bad a display as I have seen there. The last minute goal in the half really was not deserved. Two quick goals in the second half by Rotherham had the ground on edge. Boos aplenty for the Jos Lukuhay who is surely on his way out. The equaliser was deserved but the game was very poor standard. Won’t be rushing back.

Weeknotes 02/12/2018 – Week 13

Another good week of squad work. Finished a sprint and we over achieved in some areas and missed a bit in others. I guess if you want to be dogmatic about it that means we failed overall but we are doing things a bit differently so I am classing it as a win. Loving see the team grow and work together better each week. We are doing lots of varied work and have had to pull in another big piece of work which varies it further but we keep on going and I am enjoying it immensely.

I am still struggling with how to define work. Getting the balance right between doing it all myself and doing something far more collaborative. I also don’t have the time to do it justice. Forgot about how to make space for that myself. Like a shit midfielder. Good ones seem to have that extra yard and time on the ball. One to work on because we need to make more time at work for design and definition. Everything feels like it is a rush because we have so much to do. The art of working out is not appreciated it is only delivery that is celebrated.

In exercise world I did a 10k race today. The legendary Percy Pud. I managed to get round in 59 minutes which I was very happy about. My legs aren’t too happy about it now mind you. This note is being written 13 weeks after starting back running, so couch to 10k in under an hour is not bad going for a 42 year old currently weighing around 16 and a half stone.

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My reading efforts continue well. Decided to finish the Slow Horses books by Mick Herron. Polished off Real Tigers and Spook Street. Now onto the last one in the series, London Rules. I tried another book but it was not working for me, I am too into Mr Herron’s wonderful story telling and he also is masterful at using the fart to star in his writing. I am not a high brow reader it seems.

‘This place is as messed up as it looks, isn’t it?’ ‘You know me,’ said Lamb. ‘I always demand the highest professional standards.’ He farted, though whether as illustration or punctuation wasn’t clear

And another…

Trust me, there’ll be keyboard warriors joining the dots as soon as this hits the Web.’ ‘We’ll wrap it up before it comes to that.’ ‘The next sound you hear will be me, expressing confidence.’ He farted, and reached for the cigarette behind his ear.

I must lead more like Jackson Lamb.

Talking of great leaders, albeit less windy ones, I saw this week that Ben Terrett had been deservedly awarded by the RSA as the first Royal Designer for Industry for Service Design. One of the smartest people I have met. Do read this post he wrote after receiving the award.

Weeknotes 25/11/2018 – Week 12

A draining week navigating choppy and unfamiliar managerial waters. Problems, challenges and opportunities of various shapes, size shape and definition sprang up. All good learning I guess but I could do with a few more little wins and a lot less whines.

I am still on the hunt for a service designer but I am struggling to articulate why and to make my case internally to what problem I am trying to solve. Spoke with a colleague to get some help and they said to frame the designer as a BA for people requirements rather than business requirements which I liked. If I had more time and a greater ability to apply myself to learning something then the wider skillset of a service designer I something I wish I could. Easier to learn or be taught/shown/have someone with more experience do it better.

Ellie Craven did a nice write up of the Product People North event I spoke at last week. It also includes some lovely words about my talk.which cheered me greatly.

My number arrived for next week’s Percy Pud 10k run. Only managed one run to work this week. Was a little achey and stuff from football last week. Will try and get at least two runs

Finished the last two books of the Murderbot Diaries. Back to the Slow Horses of Mick Heron. A short story called The List and into a longer story called Real Tigers. It is about a rogue tiger team brought in to cause issues of one sort but it spirals out of control. I think I want a tiger team to come in and solve/cause issues at work but maybe with more software output than dead bodies.

Weeknotes 18/11/2018 – Week 11

An up and down sort of week. Some challenges at work that I can’t work out how to solve. One of them is the continued battle with getting things out of my head and written down. I wish had a solid understanding of the concept of shared understanding in product management. I think my difficulties with it lie in a number areas, a fear of criticism or my frustration at people pointing out my failings/me having to explain things to people at a higher or lower level. Maybe some fear of people finding out I am an imposter who is winging it. But aren’t we all?

As a way of challenging that fear in a slightly less work related way I agreed to give a talk at Product People North a few weeks ago. The event was last Friday and I really enjoyed speaking and the rest of the event too. It was primarily an event for government product people. I am not a government product person but I wish I had better access to the community of government product people because there are lots of good ones. I talked about my challenges with copying what the Government Digital Service had kick-started.

It went pretty well. I remembered most of my lines, didn’t sweat too profusely, only swore a little bit. People asked good questions afterand they said nice things about it too. It was good to do a talk again with a bit of freedom of the pressures of the office where we don’t really have a culture of standing up and presenting.

The conversations had there also made me realise I am doing some things right and also people were struggling with similar challenges to mine so it is not just me being a bit of an idiot. It was a good all round confidence and knowledge boost. Thanks to Paul or inviting me and to Debbie for organising it.

In non-work world the international football break meant a few friends played football again. The first week I started these week notes back in September we had just played football. I was unwell last time and had reached peak fatness. I have lost over 20lbs since then. This meant I was fractionally more mobile at football. Still absolutrly shit at it mind you and we lost heavily.

Finished reading the first couple of novellas of the Murderbot diaries by Martha Wells. Very good indeed. About a security bit that has gone rogue and is trying to solve the mystery of a mass murder it allegedly committed.

Also finished watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel which was indeed marvelous. I wanted to see more standup comedy scenes in it because they were my favourite bits. I think I would like to have the ability to be a stand up comedian. I think the quality of my ‘jokes’ in my presentation confirmed that ability does not exist in me.

Weeknotes 11/11/2018 – Week 10

We have had quite a few new people join at work over the past few weeks. They are all great and bringing lots of new experience and skills. It really lifts up a small company when you hire specialists in certain areas. We still have gaps in service/product design which I am hoping to get advertised soon…I said this last week and still not much progress though. The internal cogs of a small company can sometimes be as difficult to get moving as those in a large company.

We have a pretty big queue of project work that we are working through slowly, all the while we are transitioning to squads and more scrum like work practices. So many interesting challenges in the trade off of old and new projects. Teams getting up to speed and product owners ploughing their own furrow some what….well I am anyway. Now I am trying to pull some of that older work into the squad as we gain momentum without diluting the overall goal we have of making the account better for people wanting to manage their money. Plenty of changes that can come under that banner though.

I have been asked to talk at Product People North on Friday at the ODI in Leeds. It is an event for Government Product Folk to talk and I am very nervous about it as they are very good at all this product malarkey following the input of GDS and I am just winging it. My talk will be therapeutic for me, probably anaesthetic for them.

Finished reading The Sisters Brothers which turned out to be a good tale. Quite an unhappy ending too which I also enjoyed. Not all bad men get to be winners. Started and finished Snap by Belinda Bauer, a pretty good page turner but some things felt a little too simple and convenient. A story of three kids abandoned by their Father after their Mother is murdered. Next up in the reading queue are the Murderbot diaries by Martha Wells. So much death. I should read some happier books that don’t feature piles of bodies.

Talking of avoiding death. My fitness efforts are going ok. Managed my first run to work on Thursday. Exercise and commute in one is both efficient and healthy. Just over 8k from my house to the office so a decent run.

10 weeks of notes now, 10 weeks of fairly healthy eating, 10 weeks of exercise, 10 weeks of books over social media. Made some good lifestyle changes and hoping I continue after Xmas.