Year of the Dog: Autumnal Equinox

qiū fēn 秋分


Forgive me Mother for I have sinned; it has been two weeks since my last conf..oops…weeknote.

I need to get back in to the habit of writing these at a better cadence. My head is a bit cluttered at the moment — there is a lot going on up there and some of it isn’t really helpful. Some of it might be but there isn’t enough space to find out.

What has been going on?

  • Spoke at SwanseaCon. I was ill and I gave a slightly low powered performance to be honest. It was a small audience for my session. Probably the smallest in a long time — and while that is fine as I’m still amazed anybody comes to here me speak at all it does make it harder to raise your energy levels when they are low. I think I’ll retire that talk now — I love talking about openness and working out loud but it isn’t really finding an audience in the same way as some of the other stuff I talk about.
  • I attended ProductTank in London for the first time (though I have been to the Mind the Product conference twice). Honestly it wasn’t great. There was nothing wrong with the talks but they didn’t really provide me with much insight and one of them slightly annoyed me for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Fair play to the speakers as that is a crazy crowd for a mid week meetup (like 400 people!) but I won’t be making the effort to attend again.
  • I’ve been working on designing this workshop that I am giving to my team at the BBC (tomorrow actually). It is sort of a roadmap workshop but to be honest the big ticket items are decided as is the basic Now / Soon / Later of it all — but — I want the team to really understand what we are doing and why and feel more ownership of it all. So I have stolen liberally from a bunch of ideas — including things from Janet and Jamie — and tied it together with some RICE prioritisation stuff (it is a data team — they like numbers!). I am pretty proud of the theory of it — will see how it goes!
  • Speaking of the BBC — my time there is coming to an end. Just eight days or so left and a lot to do before I go. As I’ve said elsewhere I have enjoyed working there — I really like the team and the culture they are trying to build. Five months in knowing what I know now I think I would have approached things a bit differently but hindsight is 20/20 — I’m content with my work there but I know I have to accelerate my own approach as my timelines with teams are so much shorter as a consultant now. My replacement in the team is coming along to the workshop tomorrow and then starts the following week.
  • I’m excited about my next assignment. I’m going to spending some time at the Hydrographic Office in Taunton. The ‘Ordnance Survey of the Sea’ is a bit of a hidden jewel in the UK’s data treasure chest and I’m really looking forward to getting in the mix. Terry is the CTO there and Mr Loosemore is a non-exec director so there is no shortage of leadership who understand the opportunities and challenges. Plus great folk like Dan are already there doing their thing. Going to be fun.
  • If ProductTank was a bit of a let-down CitizenBeta was really an amazing way to spend a couple of hours. Mevan put on a wonderful show with great talks from Andy, Simon (from SF via Hangouts tethered from a phone I think!), John from the Beeb and Mevan herself! I got to catch up with so many people — here is a snapshot (if I missed you out sorry but this is a few days later now!) Ade, Andy, Anna, Dan, Francis, Giuseppe, Laura, Martin, Mevan, Rob, Will…there were many more. Mevan making me join Andy, Rob and Laura up the front for a Mexican Wave was mortifying but heartwarming. I feel a bit of a fraud as they have gone so far since I left — I guess I can take some credit for the foundational work but it seems so long ago now.
  • I’ve been asked to be part of the programme committee for the Service Design in Government conference. Was proud to be asked and have really been enjoying reading the proposals so far. There is soooooo much good stuff going on these days. Sure we still have a long way to go but it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of genuinely user centric thinking and doing in Government would have got you laughed out of the building.
  • We did this fantastic workshop for the Notbinary team meeting on Friday with this chap Phil Ives about economic, business and revenue cycles. I didn’t really know what to expect as I’m not really that business minded a person — too many years in public service — but I found it fascinating, I learned a lot and started to trust my instincts a bit more at this sort of thing. It was quite hard after a few weeks without being home but I’m glad I attended it (after skipping the Myers-Briggs-esque thing the team did last time — ‘enterprise astrology’ we are calling all that nonsense now!).
  • Last weekend I went to Leeds for the annual Thought Bubble comic book festival and had an amazing time and spent too much money! Warren Ellis and Greg Rucka are two of my favourite creators and were both there giving talks so that was wonderful and I got to finally meet the amazing Hattie (and her chap) which led to an evening of deep comic book nerdery, digital government gossip and Goose IPAs — thanks for the company!
  • I also had the amazing news that I have my type2 diabetes under control and no longer have to take any pills. I still want to lose a little more weight and finally start exercising but generally my health is the best it has been for years (despite this bloody cold!).

This week I have aforementioned workshop, I’m attending MapCamp, doing a little talk at The Delib Team’s Practical Democracy event and most importantly catching up with a bunch of weeknoters as well, Can’t wait. Oh I’m also going to get to spend a day working in the BBC Bristol for the first and likely last time.


I enjoyed ‘A Simple Favor’ — it is only an OK movie from a plot point of view but Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively are amazing whenever they are together in a scene — they should just embrace it and just make movies together now.

I read ‘Summerland’ by Hannu Rajaniemi and really enjoyed it. It is hard to describe really — a spy novel where the spooks are really spooks maybe? The world building is something special and it works on a number of levels.

I binged all three seasons of Veronica Mars for…I don’t know…the fifth time? I love it as much every time I watch it. I was a couple of episodes from the end when they announced a new season on Hulu!!! Insert happy dance gif here.