Year of the Dog: Notes from ‘Clear and Bright’ (Qīngmíng)

Safe to say spring has sprung eh? Hope everybody enjoyed the sun (it’ll probably be raining again by the time I hit publish on this!*)

It has been a bit of a rollercoaster couple of weeks it has to be said. Like one of those old, wooden rollercoasters that bang you around a bit in between the thrills and screams. I’m feeling a bit bruised and nauseous but also pretty buzzed.

One project continues to go great. It is well regarded by the client, the team need minimal intervention from me and generally it is exactly what you would want from this sort of ‘managed service’ assignment.

Unfortunately another project was identified as being pretty much at the far opposite end of the success spectrum and finding the right path to resolve things to the satisfaction of all involved has been a challenge. Also a pretty steep learning curve for me from a professional point of view. I’m thankful to some colleagues parachuting in from London to help out and I’m hopeful we have course corrected. It wasn’t easy though.

That said I have been pretty pleased in how I coped — I think I behaved exactly how I would have wanted a supplier to have acted if the roles had been resolved — being honest and proactive from the outset. I’d rather not make a habit of this sort of thing but it was a little reassuring to realise I had it in me.

In more fun news an opportunity has been floated my way to spend a bit of time in Australia and New Zealand speaking at a few events down under. Nothing is set in stone but it pretty darn exciting and I’d love to do it. In fact I’ve been sketching out a new talk — basically trying to string a bit of a greatest hits talk based around blogposts and talks I’ve done that people seem to have enjoyed. I have a new idea of a framework for it based on some things that were discussed at my first Not Binary away day yesterday as well which currently seems smart but the proof will be in the Powerpoint.

So yep — yesterday was my first Not Binary away day. Which was great — I really enjoyed it and learned a lot but it was also a bit odd for a few reasons.

  1. Despite the fact that working in a remote organisation was a bit part of why I struggled at mySociety I have pretty much done the same thing again. The circumstances are sufficiently different this time though so I trust I’ll avoid the struggles of the past.
  2. The core team of founders are (rightly) very close knit having known and worked with each other for years as well have been forged as a team due to some tough issues around the founding of the company. This can mean it sometimes felt a little like gatecrashing a family reunion or something.
  3. That said because of my previous professional relationship with their earlier company incarnation I felt like I knew many of them pretty well and (I think) they felt the same. The power of the network.

Despite the fact the business is a year old this felt like a really great moment to jump in. I got to see the new brand (I am sat wearing a new branded t-shirt writing this actually) which I really like — the test for me is whether I’d be happy to use it in my own slidedecks and you can expect to see upcoming talks from me looking more stylish . I have a picture of some of the swag but am not sure if I’m allowed to share it yet — maybe I’ll add it later.

There was also a bit of conversation about the strategy and proposition that we are building a business around. I really enjoyed this — Rob shared some really interesting ideas that nicely sync with some of the things I’m hoping to achieve over the next couple of years (and basically joined Not Binary in the hope it would give me a platform to do that.)

Really enjoyed chatting to Sarah about her career and travels — it is a small world as we both know Steph (or maybe it is just everyone knows Steph.)

In fact it was just great to get to chat to so many people and really get a feel for the ambitions and aims of the individuals who make up the core team. Neal and Oliver from the Panoply were also there speaking about the wider group we are a part of and hearing that proper business perspective was a real insight for me given my public service minded ways!

The only bad point was having professional pics taken— god I hate it and photographers totally bring out my worst personality traits. I was rude and not entirely helpful to be honest. Disappointed in myself. Especially as I’d like to have some nice pics of my new slimmer (if far from slim) self.

Despite coming away with some new responsibilities (Junior Slack Officer) and getting stuck in traffic on the way home I’m feeling genuinely excited by the possibilities so thanks to everyone.


*ha — it is raining as I finish this!

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