Year of the Dog: Notes from Summer Solstice 夏至


It has been a pretty hectic couple of weeks — to say the least. I haven’t actually been home and slept in my own bed for three weeks at this point. I am starting to fray around the edges and look pretty (very) rough. It has been worth it though — I remain in an unusually positive place. I suspect it is freaking people out a bit!


  1. I went to New Zealand. For a week. This was logistically challenging but well worth the pain. Winter in Wellington is not for the faint hearted but there is something very appealing about the city — not least how close everything is. It is an interesting time for ‘digital’ in NZ — things are happening; they are recruiting a CTO, they have Pia and her team doing really interesting work from the Service Innovation Lab, a new digital strategy is being drafted, Departments are embracing service design and new approaches. The size of the country, its relative lack of austerity, (relative) stability of Government and close connection to the D5(7) means it has a pretty unique opportunity to do something special and avoid the mistakes made elsewhere — it really should be interesting to watch.
  2. Some issues are clearly universal. I did a couple of talks while I was over there — basically updated versions of my culture/hiring ‘team sport’ spiel. It was good to spend a bit of time updating my thinking on the topics — I’ve learned a lot in the last 18 months — and it was interesting how much of it was directly appropriate to the audiences over there despite being based on my very specific experiences. The challenge of creating an agile, user focused ‘generative’ team within a bureaucracy is something everybody in this world seems to have to face at some point. I wonder if that will ever change. That these sub-cultures we create will ever really infect the organisations sufficiently to become the dominant culture?

3. It was pretty inspiring to meet Kelsey and get to listen to her speak at the GOVIS conference. As an undergraduate she has already achieved more in the civic tech space than this ageing geek could ever hope to achieve. Also getting to learn about the whole Design+Democracy project and related activities at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts and listening to Ruth from Summer of Tech and her mission to get more young people into technology roles just made me even more sure that the future of digital / civic tech was bright in New Zealand.

4. Since I got back from the ‘land of the long white cloud’ (landed at 12 Tuesday and was in the office by 2…idiot!) I have been spending a bit of time working on the recruitment for the role I am covering for. I have written a bit about it over here and learning about the BBC approach to hiring has been interesting — it is actually quite different than I expected with a lot more freedom but also a few slightly weird constraints. Also the lack of a public presence for the team yet makes it a bit difficult — there is a lot of interesting work happening and some really ambitious plans but it isn’t out in the open (yet — it is coming!).

4+1. I’ve been with Notbinary 100 (working) days — give or take the odd day off. It has been an education at times to be honest but has been pretty fun for the most part. Even though I am essentially doing the work I’ve always done it is different when you come in as a consultant. There is a different kind of pressure/expectation and I think some of my behaviours have had to change a bit to reflect that. Getting the opportunity to do this assignment at the BBC has been great though and I’ve been active in looking at lining up the next opportunity hopefully — trying to lock down an ‘offer’ that makes sense to us and potential clients. I like this idea of ‘building/coaching generative teams in bureaucratic organisations’ (to slightly misrepresent Westrum) as I think it kind of defines the sort of thing I do naturally (and provides a route into my desire to implement open working / communications as part of the intervention.)



Went to the cinema a lot in New Zealand in an effort to stay awake.

Ocean’s 8: fun, smart enough but lacks any kind of jeopardy really. The cast is wonderful though.

Jurassic World 2: terrible. If it hadn’t of been pissing down outside I’d have got up and left. So many good actors totally wasted. Even the FX were weak.

Tag: slightly odd but fun. Based on that viral story from a few years ago about the friends who had played the same game of tag for decades. Occasionally it is very funny but also weirdly dark and misjudged at times.

^^ Nuff said.