Weeknotes #16

Week commencing 4th November 2019.

Before I start, I should point out, writing notes this week is particularly difficult. I unintentionally took two weeks off from #weeknotes because the last three weeks have been difficult to process let alone talk about. So for that, I’m forgiving myself, hopefully you can too. It does mean, however, that being out of the game for only a few weeks has thrown my all out of whack. So bear with me. ‘Evs.

This week I’m back, feeling a little more human, however, I am writing these on a Monday which probably shows how fried I was after last week. Also, because of the sensitive and bizarre situations we’re dealing with at work, most of what I’ll write about this week will probably be limited to things that won’t open up a neverending can of worms. As a result, this may not be an entirely true reflection of my week. So yeah, that’s frustrating.

This week got off to a flying start, as we started to process some difficult news from last week.

As usual with awkward corporate announcements there was the veritable amount of tumbleweed while people tried to work out what the hell it actually meant.

#Protip: communication is measured by how much people actually understand your message. A few of us were fielding questions from teams, trying to bring a little clarity to those that needed it, even though we didn’t have any awful lot to go on ourselves, leading with empathy is all we could do.

Ambiguous enough? I hope so.

Tuesday I was in early for a back to back meetings day. Kicked off with my one-to-one which was mostly distracted by some other ‘urgent’ news and followed up with a long overdue session with one of our Scrum Masters, Barry.

I’ve missed Barry. We don’t get to work with each other an awful lot but whenever we do, I feel joy. He is mad as a box of frogs but ultimately someone who believes in our power to do good, to his very core. Also, he baked brownies.

Later that day was our leadership meeting. I refer to a previous one of these in a previous weeks notes, so I know you’ll be quivering with anticipation… we all worked quite well together, creating plans and debating how we could help the team best succeed in the future. I will admit, I took some out before the meeting to get people on the same page, and I think it paid off. I asked some difficult questions to a few people before we got in the room, in an effort to level out some of the emotions that normally run away with us. We were sane, rational human beings we could be proud of and made some plans in the light of last weeks news. Win!

Finally for Tuesday I went to a meeting with Children’s Services at Northamptonshire County Council, they’re in the process of becoming a Trust and are hoping we can help them redesign a few services. The meeting was great, Jonathan and I talked with project manager, Liam and already there’s some workshops in the diary to get to work. It’s good to work with people that immediately ‘get it.’

Wednesday was a much shorter day but far more intense. I headed over to Milton Keynes Council to work with a few people on redesigning Council Tax inspections. Moreover, I got to work with one of our BA’s, Mitchell, for the first time. I have to say, it was an outstanding experience.

We helped the few people in the room understand their service a little better, with simple coaching, questioning and a few cards on the table to structure and focus the conversation. I’ve missed this kind of work, simple, honest work with services that want to do the best they can do.


Turns out we can probably automated most of the parts of the process with a few scripts and data tools so we’re rerally looking forward to getting stuck in to that one. Also, they’re getting a drone to do remote inspections so we’ve got to stick around to have a play with that right?

In other news this week;

To wrap up the week we had a meeting to work through developing a strategy for our service. we opened with some traditional strategy tools, namely Porters 5-forces, PESTLE and SWOT and then we moved on to Wardley Mapping two needs met by our service; The need to redesign a service, the need for a delivered solution to a service problem.

Finally, I recorded an episode of the Make Life Work podcast with Si Jobling, it’ll be launched in the coming weeks but I can honestly say that the couple of hours Si took to ask me questions and chat was one of the best ways to round off the working week.

What I’m thinking about

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I am pleased

I’m also pleased I’ve managed to hit publish on these notes. I recognise they’re not great, they’re also not a true reflection of how I feel, what’s happening in my life or the work I’m currently doing. For many frustrating reasons, I can’t currently be completely honest about all those things. Some of that is commercial sensitivity, some of that is deeply personal and painful but much of it is because, even as I type this, I still haven’t processed it all.

It will get better week by week, so for now, please forgive me and know that just by writing this, it’s a kind of therapy.