Weeknotes S3e05


Writing this a day later than usual as yesterday got away from me a little bit and someone booked a call for 4 which is when I usually take an hour to download the week and write this. Then I went to the pub. So in the tradition of the great writers I studied at Uni I am writing this with a brutal hangover.

What went well?

The big moment was that I finally got myself a work laptop. Even better it is actually pretty damn good as far as Windows machines go. It is a Lenova Thinkpad Ultrabook X260 running Windows 7. It is small, light, sturdy and the keyboard is especially nice though the trackpad is a little odd. It has Chrome and it has the Slack app so things are looking up.

Not actually my laptop but the same model 🙂

Had a number of insightful meetings — not least with Hannah from the GDS Assessments team which brought into (sharp) focus some of the areas I think I can best focus my attention to help grow the digital capability at Defra. Assessments are often hard work but they are perfect for identifying the fault lines so it was helpful. As an added bonus I got myself invited along to the show and tells for the emerging new assessment approach which I am quite excited about (no — you’re the nerd!).

More discussions about the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework (including the 4pm Friday call). Looks like I am going to work with the programmes to dip our collective toes in to the Marketplace asap — it is something really quite new to Defra so should be interesting!

My initial interventions on behalf of the Livestock Information team have crystallised and it looks like horses are going to be featuring in my immediate future. It is a pretty geographically dispersed project so am off to York next week to meet the delivery manager and get to know the work beyond what emails, slidedecks and papers can tell me. I’m looking forward to getting to do something to be honest — most of my work has seemed a bit ephemeral and theoretical these first few weeks and I need to get my teeth into something real.

I’m actually bloody terrified of horses!

What could have gone better?

Honestly there was no major blockers or problems this week — only two days in London and both went well. Getting the laptop on Wednesday was a big relief actually.

I guess I just have this nagging concern that I should be contributing more by now. The ways of working, some of the internal processes and just the geographically dispersed nature of the organisation is all taking time to get used to and thus everything is taking me longer to work out that I expect.

There is also a more uneven distribution of digital thinking and experience than I expected — everyone seems to be at a different place on the journey bringing along there own preconceptions of terms and techniques they learned along the way which requires a fair bit of translating and negotiation to reach a common understanding before you can move along. It is important, worthwhile work but it isn’t easy and it stalls momentum.

Next week?

Couple of days in London, a trip to York and maybe a visit to Cirencester so a lot of train time! My guess is the week will break down pretty much between a focus on the Equine work, some programme level stuff for Livestock Information and being knee deep in DOS planning and writing. Should keep me busy on those trains!