myWeek (s4e12)

Burned or burnt man


This was quite a week one way or another. To start with dear readers, some advice. Do not try to read Slack on your phone while also carrying a large pan of recently boiled pasta water — this can lead to accidents and a badly burned/burnt/scalded foot. Ouch. There has been some limping this week.

In good mySociety news this week the Hewlett Foundation announced that we had succeeded in getting a follow on grant which is always a cause for celebration. One of the things I am fast learning is the constant balancing act the organisation has to perform around funding and cash flow — despite all the budget challenges of the last few years in the public sector this is very different and very new to me. It is quite a complex eco-system of different types of grants, product sales, API subscriptions and work for hire that keeps the lights on — there is no doubt there is a learning curve here.

Related to this news we had a call on Monday to discuss the kinds of work that Hewlett are expecting to see for that support. Again it was interesting and a learning opportunity for me as this is primarily about the International aspects of our operations and while FixMyStreet has a global presence one way or another it hasn’t been my focus to date. There is enough to learn closer to home. I’m really quite excited about the opportunity to be involved in this kind of international endeavour though – it isn’t the sort of thing that I have had much opportunity to do in my career and it has always been something I’ve been interested in.

Tuesday we had a follow-up meeting with a local Council who are using FixMyStreet but for one reason or another really haven’t been supported sufficiently to make the most of it. That is changing. I have to say I was impressed with the creativity of the team work-arounds to to the problems they have encountered but with a little training and a few small changes we can make a big difference to their experience of the product (and in doing so their jobs!). It was a positive meeting which included some really useful feature suggestions and some new wider, organisational concerns that we need to address so I came away from it buzzing with ideas — then I dropped the pan on my foot so swings and roundabouts!

Wednesday I had my three month probation review. It went really well and I got some really nice feedback. There are definitely things I need to improve on — following through with plans and maintaining momentum for a start and I probably need to narrow my focus (and the teams) and accelerate the pace of change a little. God knows I need to better balance the demands of our work for hire and product development. All fair. We also had a good chat about upcoming priorities and overarching strategy. I really enjoyed it and came away feeling energised for the next few months.

I was also involved in the reviews for Rachel and Stuart in the team. This felt a little weird as actually we started pretty much together but they’ve actually been at the organisation a week longer than me. Three months in and having to speak on behalf of the organisation when you are settling in yourself has challenges but there is a really could set of questions used for this process and all in all it was certainly less painful than all those ‘performance reviews’ I did in the civil service!

The Hacks/Hackers Bristol event was Wednesday evening — not going to lie the turn out was very disappointing. About a dozen people attended (having it on the same night as both the Bristol Cable AGM and ProductTank was probably a mistake!) and Steve came and gave a really great talk about WhatDoTheyKnow Pro. There were some good questions and some decent contacts to follow up in the room but it reinforced my previous decision not to run any events other than my ‘minimal viable meet-ups’ anymore.

Elsewhere on Medium I have started to publish our internal team updates publicly in case anyone else is interested — hopefully they will be about every two weeks.

I spent most of Friday grinding through the GCloud 9 application. It probably shouldn’t feel like such an achievement to have completed it but it really does!

Ha — funny that written down it looks like quite a quiet week when it felt just the opposite. There was clearly a lot going on in the spaces in between.

This week Stefan has joined #teamweeknote and Mark has also written a great, insightful (but likely one off) weeknote.