myWeek (s4e08)

Hatton Garden Heist

My head is killing me and I have just had an ill-advised beer ahead of official knocking off time as, like the Verve once sang, the drugs don’t work so gods knows how this is going to turn out. I am keen to try and keep tomorrow (Saturday) free of any screens not showing rugby though so here we go.

Slightly weird week to be honest. Took eight weeks but I have finally had a bit of a wobble. Spent a lot of this week out of my comfort zone and while I don’t think I dropped the ball at any point there weren’t many clean catches.

A big chunk of this week was dealing with the ‘work for hire’ side of my remit. This is the area I am least confident in it has to be said. I’ve spent my career avoiding this kind of work after all. Turns out I am not too bad at it but translating client briefs into proposals into costed quotes? Going to take some time before I really feel like that is natural. Too long on the other side. Luckily we seem to have lovely clients — much nicer than I would have been so that it making things easier.

At this very moment the team is trying to get something live — it is that classic Friday deployment scenario and as usual I am a bit of a third wheel — not having the technical skills to really contribute at the sharp end. I am providing moral support via Slack instead.

I did have a lot of fun using Hemingway to help me strip down a load of our promotional copy to the bare bones. I ended up pretty decent despite the hammering it took and I am pretty pleased with it. I’ve started to think we are writing too much for a Digital/IT audience with our ‘..for Councils’ stuff and should be targeting a more generalist local government public servant persona. So I’m trying to change our language and our messaging a little.

Had a really interesting couple of hours in Cardiff learning about the ‘Innovate to Save’ from the YLab team. It is an interesting initiative — bringing a mix of R&D and start-up incubator style working to public service projects in Wales. I’m really keen to find a way to get us involved — I think we are pretty uniquely placed to help out a forward thinking Council here and it is just the sort of work that excites me.

I needed more of this really.

It was the mySociety Limited Board meeting this week (in a Hatton Garden basement!). I feel really lucky to get the opportunity to learn from our Board but I don’t feel like I did myself justice this time. I just felt a little under prepared and lacking in clarity. I’m not beating myself up about it — I’ll be better next time but it was a lesson in expectations and how I can’t be complacent about the skills I have nor make assumptions about the differences between my old working world and this (some of my Civil Service discipline re Boards would have gone down well I think!).

I’m doing a couple of local talks in the next month or so and trying out a new, mySociety focused talk. Writing up the abstract for it coincided with a couple of Calls for Speakers for US conferences I have always wanted to go to (PDF and All Things Open) so I threw my name in the hat. The longest of long shots but who knows.

This is the blurb →

The mission of mySociety is to ‘ the digital tools that give people power to get things changed’ but at FixMyStreet are we empowering the people who need it or just reinforcing existing privileges?

Is this a service design problem? How can we break the un-virtuous circle: people don’t believe anything will get fixed → so don’t report anything → so nothing gets fixed.

This talk will talk about what we have learned from a decade at the front-line of that most British of past-times, complaining about their neighbourhoods, and some ideas for how we might empower more people to make more change.

Oh and in case you hadn’t guessed today is the 20th anniversary of (the TV show) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of the endless hours I have devoted to television in my almost 44 years none were better spent than watching the Scoobies 🙂

So have a good weekend all..