Year of the Dog: Notes from Lesser Ripening

Honestly this tweet pretty much sums up my week:

It is only an interim position so I don’t want to get carried away but it really does feel good to be back in the game. It feels like I’ve been out of it forever. I suffered from a bit of a ‘failure to launch’ at mySociety — crippled by impostor syndrome and hobbled by a lack of mental tools to cope with working remotely. Swansea has been a learning experience but it wasn’t what I expected and again my usual bag of tricks was pretty much useless.

For the next few months I’m at the BBC as an interim ‘Executive’ Product Manager helping the new Datalab team. This is a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, architects and data scientists with a fascinating remit. I’m sure I’ll write more about that over time — and I’ll certainly be pointing to more interesting things other people in the team have written.

The immediate to-do list is like a roll call of things I’ve missed doing:

  • Produce an open roadmap
  • Work on the vision
  • Get the team working and thinking in the open
  • Iterate on the ways of working to get more focused
  • Build out a backlog and an approach to prioritisation
  • ‘Stakeholder’ relations and ‘selling’ that vision
  • Help with hiring

I am as ever thankful to all the amazing things people share openly in my network (and beyond) as I’ve been revisiting all sorts of resources from people like Giles, Jamie, Emily, Ross, Janet and beyond to give my toolkit a bit of a refresh before diving in.

Anyway an opportunity to work with a talented team where it is clear you can contribute at least a little something to their growth has to be a great week eh?

The BBC was on my organisation ‘bucket list’ as well. It is very much as I expected — there is loads of interesting stuff happening, it has its own bureaucracy not a million miles from the civil service but also a bunch of eccentricities all of its own (which clearly I have not scratched the surface of yet..).

Wednesday I ‘popped’ to Swansea to check in with the team there. While I was in the US the issues we had with one of the projects got closed down and we made a few changes to how things are operating day to day but I’m still taking a certain amount of responsibility for the relationship in my status as ‘civil service whisperer’. It was a beautiful day and it was great to catch up with people and have a really good chat with Adam our Delivery lead on site. He is a top chap who I like and rate a lot and he has had some real tough family stuff to deal with recently while working miles from home and his strength is inspiring.

I also had my probationary appraisal and 1–2–1 with James our CEO — sat outside the bar of the Swansea Grand Hotel 🙂 It was a great chat — shockingly I passed my probation! We had a good chat about future plans and an attempt to bring just enough structure and process to the company. This is one of those (many) things I have opinions on.

Then I went to Cardiff to see Beyonce and Jay Z with Laura. This was really an amazing evening — even if I did have to be on the train back to London at 06:00 the next day. Ouch.

Thursday night was also brilliant as I got to meet-up with you wonderful weeknoters! That this group exists remains something I find hard to process — let alone how amazing everyone one is. Thanks to Dan for making it happen and to everyone who came along for being so brilliant.

Other things happened. Interviews. Hangout with Terry. Panicked phone calls that ended up being interesting opportunities. Meetings with film makers.

Thanks to everybody who made this week so special. Next Friday I am off to New Zealand for a very short trip to give a couple of talks and be hoping to sell some people on the idea of joining the weeknotes tribe!

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