The Bristol Sound
This week was something of a collectors item. I was working in Bristol, in the office, every day. Can’t remember the last time that happened.
That said it was a slightly frustrating, bitty week. I never really hit my stride and was basically bouncing around between a number of smaller tasks with nothing to anchor me. I got a fair bit done but it all felt quite foundational — there wasn’t much that felt that substantial (though lots was important and needed doing). That said it has left me with quite a challenging week eight ahead!
Some highlights though.
I had a brilliant meeting at Bristol City Hall on Monday talking about how we can do more with FixMyStreet to support the Council’s ‘Clean Streets’ campaign. This is going to be an ongoing conversation and there is work to do but I am quite excited about the possibilities — it is a perfect opportunity to test out some ideas around dashboards, the user experience, new ways of reporting, training and promoting the service in a way the provides a really tight feedback loop from users on the street and in the Council offices. Plus it supports my city. Win win.
Pubcamp was great this week. It was really the start of what I really hoped from it — a dozen or so people, all around one big table having a bunch of conversations related to doing digital in or for generally more public service minded organisations. We had people from universities (including Shaun who I just spotted on Twitter was down in Bristol from Northumbria Uni and had finished his meetings early so I invited him along), Government, social enterprises, local tech businesses and more. I was losing faith in the idea a bit to be honest so this was quite the fillip.
In an effort to push back against the bitty-ness of the week I came up with a ‘Top Ten’ of priorities for the month that I want to be able to ‘report’ on each week. I’m not sure if this will work but it feels like a step towards doing proper OKRs (which I just don’t think we are ready for yet). If nothing else it will help me reorientate if I start bouncing around my task list too much again.
I had a lot of ‘fun’ working out how to use Waffle one day this week. It is an interesting tool and one I’m sure I’ll learn to love but at the moment it is just a little unintuitive for me as the Git/Github workflow is not my natural habitat! I’m training myself to default to creating ‘Issues’ where in the past I would have used Trello (or index cards to be honest) and at the moment everything is either Issues or Tasks that is captured — we don’t really do ‘user stories’ or ‘jobs to be done’ which I’m not entirely comfortable with and need to work out a way to tie things back to user needs (I don’t think we miss this step so much as don’t capture, I’ve been impressed with the user centric focus of the discussions ) — at least for myself.
There was quite a lot of stuff to pick up this week around our more traditional ‘work for hire’ stuff — client calls, proposal writing, support. I don’t dislike this work but it does represent a challenging balancing act to ensure we do the best work for the clients while also continuing to develop and support our core platforms. Put it this way — my balancing act isn’t getting me across any high wires anytime soon.
I got the opportunity to step out of my lane a little bit on a couple of occasions to just be lightly involved with some more FOI based discussions — I really like this space. For one reason or another it feels quite familiar and a lot of the community I built up over my time at ONS (particularly on the data journalism / open data sides) are the same people interested in the Alaveteli Professional work. If you are interested in that sort of thing come along to Hacks/Hackers in Bristol on the 5th April.
Elsewhere the Government’s UK Digital Strategy came out this week. I wasn’t hugely impressed (though it does have some better stuff buried in there.)
I dusted off the [What is it you actually do?] interview format for the blog this week with Ben stepping up. I do these because I always loved ready similar things elsewhere — I’d like to get back to do them at least monthly so if you are interested please get in touch!
I got accepted to speak at one conference, rejected by another and have answered a call for speakers for a third this week. All the talks were a flavour of my ‘The importance of being open..’ product transparency vs product propaganda idea — it isn’t quite right yet but it is getting there.
I was supposed to be at ProductCamp in London today but I think I’ve been pushing a bit hard recently so need a bit of down time to clear my head and recharge. Sad to be missing out though.
There is a lot to get done next week — and days in Cardiff and London will make that additionally challenging but it looks like a good week on paper.