July 2020

It has been 20 weeks since I got back from Oslo and went into my premature lockdown. Since then I have ventured out further than my local corner shops twice – once to drop some art off to get framed at the beginning of the month and then Monday to the pub for lunch with my friend/colleague Sara (poor woman has known me years and worked with me for multiple employers!). I’ve continued to struggle with the COVID #longhaul issues and while I have had more okay days than bad this month I’ve had very few good days. In fact I wonder if my expectations have dropped as to what even looks okay!

Work it

Work has been a busy, interesting month. I’ve said it a few times I know but this Essex role has been a real tonic. In July I’ve been working on a digital publishing platform proposal, thinking through some digital capabilities work and trying to find a hook for a ‘digital strategy’ that I thought would ‘earn its keep’. My team has delivered a new campaign website, built an alpha of our own digital manual and really impressed with their approach to selling the accessibility message. They also did a show and tell covering all of that which was amazing – it had that conversational, podcast vibe while also just getting over the passion and professionalism of the team. I was genuinely very proud.

We are also recruiting so I’ve done a bit of blogging about the role I am actually doing and have had a bunch of informal chats about it. It is a great role and this team deserves someone great.

Assessing assessments

At the start of the month I enjoyed helping out Cate and Darren with a Service Assessment for Hackney. It was just the second remote one I had done and I really liked the format and the use of Trello to capture things as we went along. It was an interesting project but the shape of it wasn’t an easy fit with the Standards – and I think this is often the case actually. There is an inherent expectation of the scale and scope of ‘services’ for the standard that doesn’t reflect a lot of work and a dogmatic approach can get in the way of otherwise good work. This isn’t a diss for assessments or the standards – I think my feelings about the good they do is well rehearsed at this stage – but I believe there is room for more flexibility within the spirit of the standards.

What else happened? 

Well someone resigned and then changed their mind (which I really extremely pleased about.) We won a big piece of work that I am very excited about – means there is likely to be a LOT more product management blogging in the weeks/months to come – and maybe a podcast (though I will be the ‘booker’ for that rather than the presenter).

I had my first School Governor meeting in a while (I missed the last one when I was ill). It was a bit weird doing it on Teams but hearing about the steps they were having to take to reopen in September was fascinating and impressive. Given the catchment area the school has had some real challenges throughout lockdown as well and some of that was an eye-opener.

I’m going to be helping them out with a new school website and also a new service to manage their SMS texting – it is the channel with the best success rate but their deal is sooooo expensive – it is like 1990s costs per text!

Still loving messing around with spraypaint in my garden. I’m improving slowly but it’ll be ages before I am not a bit embarrassed by what I am producing. It really does calm me though – even when it is all going pear shaped. 

Listening

This time every year DJ Jazzy Jeff releases his Summertime mixtape – and the summer hits its stride. This year was no different. https://www.mixcloud.com/MICK/dj-jazzy-jeff-mick-summertime-2020/

Also Taylor Swift dropped a surprise album which made me happy. This might seem off brand for me but alongside all the hip-hop, grime and R&B I do love a pop princess and Miss Swift is a perennial favourite!

Watching

Rewatched a lot of sitcoms. New Girl (Jess is consistently terrible but the rest are great), Cougar Town (terrible name. Horrible first season. Good fun otherwise), Wedding Band (gone too soon.)

Loved Old Guard on Netflix. Wanted to love Cursed but was mainly confused as to what it was trying to be. Couldn’t get past the annoying voice over on Warrior Nun. The new Last Chance U is something special – less about (American) Football than it is about how gentrification has changed Oakland and the incredibly hard life some of these young men have.