myWeek 001 (s4e01)

Welcome to the premiere of season four of my week-notes. Hopefully this production is built to last.

So this week I finally got up off the sofa, dragged myself away from my new TV and started my new job at mySociety. A job that excited and terrified me in pretty much equal measure and which sent me into something of a tail-spin last weekend. Impostor syndrome eh? What a joy.

Anyway here I am — the end of my first week and all is well. I don’t appear to have dropped any significant clangers yet — despite a couple of opportunities and the balance between excitement and terror is shifting in the right direction.

I am the new Product Manager for Better Cities which in reality means I am primarily looking after FixMyStreet (including the ‘..for Councils’ product) and MapIt. It is a new role — sort of — it has emerged from the previous ‘Services’ team that was the commercial arm of mySociety but it doesn’t quite map to any previous role there. So while it isn’t quite greenfield it has plenty of room for me to make the job my own.

Shifting from the Civil Service to a charitable organisation of around 25 people is not without some cognitive challenges. My direct team is small — just four of us really (though things are considerably more fluid than that) and three of us are new in 2017. It is a bit different from being in a team of 70 ish and being responsible for a fair percentage of that. My initial thinking is that I like it — it feels like the early days at JISC and my time at Jiva.

There is a LOT to like.

First things first. The people are great. I’ve been really lucky with this throughout the years and this is no exception. The big difference is that there aren’t 100s of other people in the organisation driving me mad!

In my entire storied career I have never been in a position to view my personal and work calendar in one place — let alone manage it in a coherent manner. Now I can — and I can view it on my phone. Sorcery! Email works, holiday booking is easy — we using Expenisfy which is AMAZING. I might keep up with my expenses for the first time ever. All the processes are sensible and understandable — not to mention documented on a wiki. There is an active internal blog — which has been brilliant for a newbie.

Using IRC again is a bit weird — must be a decade since I did previously and I am a bit clueless with it. It is an amazing window into the personality of the organisation though — it is a collective stream of consciousness that reflects a culture that is friendly and smart but absolutely quirky! It is also pretty nerdy. I can’t imagine landing many places where I am so low on the geek/eccentricity index 🙂

Getting used to being a part of a remote organisation will take a little time but having some other Bristol based colleagues is going to help with that and fellow newcomer Rachel is just down the road in Bath, ODI escapee Stu is in Brum and Dave over in Merthyr so maintaining some face to face contact is going to be pretty painless and I can’t remember looking forward to a meeting as much as I am the upcoming All Hands.

This week was also another first for me — I went to a pitch meeting on the supplier and not the client side. It was incredibly interesting to get that different perspective and to watch Mark (our CEO), Rachel and Dave just seamlessly present the product. With my previous hat on I would have been impressed (I still was!).

It is going to be interesting to see how my ideas about supporting product teams work out in this environment — I have a bunch of thoughts which I’ll be exploring in the days/weeks to come — I think most things are transferable and some will maybe work better here. We’ll see. Going to be fun.

Anyway the train is getting close to London and I’ll be at Govcamp tomorrow (and Beercamp this evening) so please say hi if you are around.