myWeek (s4e13)

Unlucky for some

So I’m going to call this week a ‘blip’. I never really got going and really don’t feel like I got much — if anything — done. A combination of being in quite a bit of pain with my foot at times plus generally feeling a bit run down and worn out meant I was just a bit under-powered all week.

It was also a strange week for other reasons. It really hit home the difference with working for such a small organisation this week — having two developers off on leave at the same time was hard to juggle and I just hadn’t given it enough consideration — complacency based on being used to having larger teams in the last few years. It isn’t a problem really — unless you don’t sufficiently plan for it. Which I didn’t.

I had a couple of talk proposals for conferences rejected this week and I have decided to take that as a bit of a sign and stop doing ‘cold’ calls for speakers. If people ask me to speak I still will and if it is a conference I am a fan of (OpenTech for instance) I’ll throw my hat in the ring — otherwise I don’t think I’ll bother anymore. The feedback has been good and the rejections very nicely handled to be honest but it is quite a bit of work to come up with decent talk abstracts targeted at the events and the process is often quite slow. I am speaking at the popular SWUX meetup in Bristol on Tuesday — which should be fun. Well it will be assuming I get around to writing the talk!

Futurelearn are the latest people I’ve come across talking about their public product roadmap and it convinced me to take another stab at ours. To be honest, on trend for the week, I struggled a bit with it and ended up messing around with the way it looked and bothering Zarino for design help rather than dealing with the problem I really needed to resolve. That problem is how to best take the very detailed Github Issues based backlog we have (visualised in Waffle) and synthesise that to present a high-level, clear English roadmap that we can speak to with clients, the Board and in wider communications — all the while retain its accuracy. I’d considered using the Github Projects feature but to be honest it didn’t really work for me and was thinking of using ProductPlan like the GOV.UK and ONS Digital but in the end I settled on an old friend — Trello — and a manual process to keep it accurate with a standing agenda item at our monthly team meetings. If you are interested the latest iteration is here but it still needs some work providing more description/context to each card plus some kind of definition of done for each.

There were a couple of client meetings this week again — I’m still not totally comfortable on this side of the conversations — even after three months. 15 years as a client is going to take a bit of time to shake off. It isn’t that I think I am doing a bad job but it feels like I am having to do an impression of someone else to get it done. Especially on the phone/video calls — I feel better in the room I admit.

How we do/could/should operate internationally was also on my mind a bit this week. The FixMyStreet platform operates in a number of countries worldwide and there is some interest in us maybe getting more involved in a few new initiatives from international funders. A couple of different opportunities are on the horizon so I need to get my head around it all sharpish. I’m really interested in it but don’t really have a clue about how these big NGO type projects work.

We also had a planning meeting about the upcoming TICTeC conference. It is just over a week away and I am looking forward to a great deal. Amusingly the hotel we are staying in is where my Dad used to stay when he used to have to regularly travel to Florence for work 20 odd years ago. There are a couple of sessions at the conference I am especially interested in (I’m a bit obsessed with using chat apps like Messenger and WhatsApp for public service tasks at the moment) and a long list of people I want to meet so I’m very excited.

Anyway it is Easter now — tonight I’m off to see the UK premiere of ‘Saving Banksy’ and tomorrow there is live painting hopefully including Blek le Rat.

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