The longest day

myWeek (s4e23)

Another three day week. I’d say I could get used to it but the reality is the work doesn’t actually go anywhere and I can already see part of my weekend ebbing away as I try to catch up.

I had one of those weeks where my confidence collapsed. It happens sometimes (frequently soon after a period when I am feeling the flush of victory — just to keep my universe balanced I guess.) I’m not sure what caused it but it started Sunday and by Monday I was second guessing pretty much every thought I was having and most of my decisions for the last six months or so.

Maybe that was is. I’ve been at mySociety six months now and while I love it — I work with amazing people and towards a mission I really believe in — the job is different than I expected. Sometimes quite significantly so. I enjoy loads of it but some of it flusters me a bit. Chances are I am doing OK but I lack a frame of reference for a lot of it. In the earlier days of the role I pretty much bluffed it, pushed on by adrenalin but increasingly I’m critically evaluating things and am just not sure whether I made the right decisions at the right times or not.

In jobs gone by six months in is usually when I really start to hit my stride. Sometimes I feel like I am still stretching at the start line this time.

I wrote a little bit about maybe needing to ‘look sideways’ a bit to see how other people operate and to just give myself that ‘frame of reference’ I am missing. In the digital government world I knew I operated differently than a lot of my peers but I also understood where I fitted in and was confident in the way I worked because I understood how they did. Not sure that is as true right now.

Rachel and Stu are leaving the organisation next week and I’ll miss them both. We joined together and their presence has been a bit of a comfort blanket as I settled in to the role and the culture. The realisation this was really happening probably didn’t help my general rattled state on Monday and Tuesday.


So anyway given my general meh-ness last week it was a strange time to get a burst of speaking engagements confirmed!

I’m speaking at DrupalCamp Bristol on Friday, at Digital Wales and Agile Cambridge in September and Agile in the City: Bristol in November. All different talks which may be a little ambitious.

The reason it was a short week though was considerably more positive. On Wednesday, the longest day and the hottest June day since 1976, I donned a pair of shorts for the first time in three years and took four trains to North East London to attend the wedding party of digital transformation power couple Ann and Dai!

I’ve known Ann and Dai for a number of years now. I befriended them both via Twitter in the early, glory days of the service and over the years they have both been incredibly generous with their time and support. They are genuinely lovely people and I couldn’t have been happier when I (finally) realised they had got together and now they are hitched! It was a lovely party — basically the best dressed GovCamp ever — and Sharon O’Dea (another lovely Twitter friend) gave a speech that properly got my hayfever going.

Oh. There was also a mission patch.

What else happened? Well Kickapoo properly melted down this week. A real case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It was always been a challenging project but we thought it was sorted at the end of last week and on Monday we had a call where we seemed to just be bringing it all to a close. Over night though (the project is US based) there were a bunch of issues and basically they cascaded all week. My being offline for a couple of days was unhelpful and Stu took the brunt of it direct. There is a difficult balance to be found here — the project is not something that is particularly core to our mission and it is a codebase that is pretty high maintenance with a demanding client. That said we have a responsibility to deliver and a reputation to maintain (the client is indirectly something of an internet giant.) So I am on that tightrope and the first few steps seem to have been steady enough. There is a long way to go though!

Blooming Rose is a UK county council that we have been talking to about FixMyStreet Pro pretty much since I started. A couple of times we came close to closing the deal but external forces got in the way so it has been a waiting game. There was a big move this week for that waiting to be over and we had a really useful call that was getting into some real detail about how things would work. I got excited too early last time so I am keeping my powder dry this time but fingers crossed.

We had the kickoff call for Hindostan Falls on Friday — where I covered myself in glory by spending most of the call accidentally muted and basically talking to myself! Thankfully Matthew was on hand to represent. It seems like this project is going to be a really useful strand of activity for the entire FixMyStreet platform. It is going to perform some funding and momentum for some features that might not have made it to the top of our backlog anytime soon but are certainly worthy and will be of interest to all manner of FMS providers. So it was a nice way to end the week.

Listening: My ‘god it is hot’ Spotify playlist!

Reading: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign — bloody hell this book portrays the Clinton campaign as beyond dysfunctional. I got about 60% through but I think I’m just going to skip to the end now as it is pretty repetitive. Infighting, infighting, ego, ego, misjudgement. Rinse. Repeat.

Watching: GLOW. A new show starring Alison Brie about the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling from 80s TV? Written by some of the ‘Orange is the New Black’ team? What is not to like?

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