September 2020

Today is my final day as interim Head of Product Management at Essex County Council. Sort of. I’m tapering off a little by doing five days across October to sweep a few things up but those are specific tasks and my day to day responsibilities finish today.

I’ve really enjoyed my time there – a big part of this was the chance to get to work with a small team again consistently for a decent period of time (six months) and to focus on empowering them and providing them with the direction and cover they needed to find their own identity as a team. 

Watching them seeking out opportunities to default to delivery, shipping products that are ‘good enough’ and then iterating – a lot, taking control of the narrative of their work and doing all of this in a small ‘a’ agile way while bringing along and converting sceptical stakeholders just by the power of shipping stuff has really been a joy to behold. Also just giving them the space to come together as a team despite the challenges of the last few months has been brilliant.

I’ll miss them but my successor is an upgrade and with Ben having already joined and the great folks already there I know they are in good hands.

The biggest challenge these six months has been my health – since I caught the COVID back in May it has been a delicate balancing act to make sure I was on form for my three days a week with the team – spending a lot of the other time just recovering. I mainly pulled this off I think until the latter days of the contract where I was just worn out and then last week what should have been a 24 hour bug completely ravaged me for five days and I’m still pretty fragile now. I lost a lot more weight than is healthy in that sort of time and had the whole fever/lucid dreams party that I did NOT enjoy. I really need to find a window for some real down time and get myself a bit healthier!

I sorted out some office space in town which I wrote about but now I’m wondering whether it is a good idea given the latest guidance and my continued fragility. I suspect I’ll continue on with it though as I need to get some space between this flat and my work for my mental health. Practically though it is an empty shell of a space and suddenly getting a decent desk, chair etc is like gold dust!

There are big changes afoot at the day job as well – I’ll probably write a little bit about that specifically.

The blogpost I wrote about the push back to the office – already like four U-turns ago now – turned into my most popular post ever. Due in part to briefly being picked up by the Google News algorithm and finding an audience on LinkedIn – was a slightly odd experience for someone used to blogging to an audience of dozens at best.

That’ll do. September was hard and I hope October is a bit easier.

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