Year of the Dog: Cold Dew

hán lù 寒露

OK — I’m going to get back to writing these on a weekly cadence. Which probably means I’ll need to change my title strategy as the Chinese micro-climates might not work anymore. I’ll have to see if Russell has any other ideas I can steal.

I did the roadmap workshop I wrote about planning in the last edition of my weeknotes. Despite Amazon letting me down and not delivering any of my workshop materials which caused a little pre-match stress (resolved by dropping a lot of cash in Rymans!) it all seemed to go really well. The team enjoyed it and really engaged with the activities. There were some really good conversations, tough questions and a growing understanding of the upcoming goals (and the challenges of balancing priorities). Where I did slightly drop the ball was not thinking enough about how I capture the outcomes and conversations as a post workshop artefact. It is proving..complex to do well.

I got to properly meet the chap who is replacing me as Product Lead for Datalab which was really good. We will spend next week together before I move to my new role so I’ve been pulling together handover notes etc together and emailing him some thoughts. I suspect our approaches are quite different so I am trying to smooth the transition for the team as much as possible.

MapCamp was on Wednesday. Confession time — I am not a fan of Wardley Maps. I try and I try but there is just too much about the core conceit that just don’t like (the actual mapping metaphor and visualisations) but so many people I hugely respect swear by them so I wanted to give it a chance. I had a really fun day though as usual this was mainly because there were so many brilliant people there I don’t get to see often or only know from Twitter (really needed Jenny Vass ’s stickers!). Liam’s slightly demob happy talk was fun — especially listening it while sat next to Emma Gawen who basically used to be his right hand woman and creator of many a slide of his. Janet Hughes was brilliant as usual — I especially enjoyed the fact she presenting a view of where and why it worked for her and it felt like a more tactical and realistic approach than some of the strategy silver bullet takes elsewhere. My favourite talk was from Danielle from Co-op Digital — she gave a hugely practical talk about how to use these techniques and why. It was the talk that most made me want to keep trying to get my head around it all.

Had a call on Thursday with Dan B and Scott from UKHO to talk a little bit about logistics for my first couple of days in Taunton. I’m really looking forward to getting there and getting stuck in. I also managed to find my Disclosure Scotland certificate (hidden in a hardback graphic novel for ‘safe keeping’!) so that is a win 🙂

Thursday we did a joint The Delib Team/ Team #weeknotes meet-up at the Naval Volunteer in Bristol. It was lovely to see everyone as usual — I remembered to bring Coco Chan the book I promised her ages ago which I forgot to post, got to have a proper chat with Steve Messer, scheme with Andy Parkhouse, catch up with Louise Cato and listen to Dan Barrett totally rock an audience (and necklace) with a slide-free, Jackanory lesson in civic minded story-telling.

I gave a talk as well. It was one I have been struggling with and honestly I still don’t think it really worked but it was quite fun to do and I think the subject matter is interesting enough to cover the flaws for 15/20 minute talks. It was about my ideas about the ‘public service internet’ — referencing the BBC, Bill Thompson, Doteveryone, Mozilla, Wikimedia, Adrian Hon, Dan Hon, Mikey Dickerson, Aaron Swartz and Gavin Belson(!) and others.

Friday I got to (finally) spend the day working at the BBC Bristol office. First time after all these years I have been inside which was exciting. Thanks Felix! I was joined by Libby Miller and it was a fun (and productive) day. The place is a real rabbit warren and feels much more like one of the old university buildings I used to work in than the BBC offices I’ve been working in lately. We also got to finish off the day with a beer at the BBC ‘club’ on the terrace in the last of the autumn sun. Nice.

I also got to have a really interesting conversation about the ideas for ‘weak code ownership / inner-source’ models at the BBC to improve ‘tech transfer’, collaboration across teams and generally preventing reinventing the wheel syndrome. I genuinely think done well it could really spark innovation in a really nice networked way — small pieces, loosely joined always being the model I aim for — and avoiding the trap of innovation labs or skunk works type things. I really hope to get an opportunity to really develop these ideas elsewhere in the future.

There is a lot going on at the moment in Notbinary land — much of which is very exciting. I think I’ll just write a separate post about all of that soon. I’m learning so much by having to think about how to take all these ideas for ways of working / lean product & technology etc and make them work as a business.

Binged ‘Killing Eve’. One of the rare shows that lives up to the hype. Sandra Oh was spectacular.

Not really clicking with ‘Maniac’ but Emma Stone is one of my favourite actresses so I’ll keep at it.

George Pelecanos has a new novel out so I read that in one sitting basically. He is my favourite (living) writer. It is quite a slim book that starts off playing with some pretty well worn ideas (by him as much as anything) but them almost totally flips the script on the reader and nothing really follows the expected path. It is also a pretty heartfelt mediation on gentrification and the way DC is changing.

That is it for this week. Remember: