S01E06: Revolving

I’m pretty wiped out as I write this and I do not have high hopes that it will be very coherent.

This week has been a personal record for context switching – I feel like I have mental whiplash.

I have planned and presented a pitch.

Fronted pretty much an entire Show and Tell.

Written a proposal.

Contributed to another.

Wrote a blogpost.

Had meetings, attended an event and written a paper on digital identity assurance.

Sat in on a call about cloud infrastructure improvements for a client before jumping off to discuss ResearchOps for another project.

Read the first few chapters of the draft of a new book about user-centred survey design so I could write an endorsement for their website when it launches.

Had a project I was really interested in a few years ago that I always regretted not seeing through appear again out of left field.

Discussed the potential of our work with Welsh Government to contribute to some wider ambitions and chatted internally about improving our own in-house communities of practices.

There were a couple of conversations about the challenges of working in the open – spurred in part by something I wrote (some of which I’ve shared below) this week.

Edited and drafted new content for our new company slide deck.

Other things happened. Some good. Some less so. I was – for the most part – on decent form this week throughout all of this but I suspect is going to cost me.


I wrote a 5/6 minute talk about working in the open and open source tech for something this week – as ever I went off script a fair bit as I got overly enthusiastic agin but I wrote a few nice words I think so here are my favourite bits.

We are passionate advocates of working in the open with a long history of doing our thinking in public, sharing our approaches, owning up to our mistakes (not just celebrating our successes) and encouraging transparency wherever we operate.

A common thread in all our approaches to open is a desire to ‘show our working’. For openness to succeed you need to be brave enough to let people peek behind the curtain. To not only present what you have done but also how and why. This is where the opportunities emerge – powerful feedback, serendipitous introductions, unexpected connections and the occasional dire warning!

We firmly believe that ‘Make Things Open, It Makes Things Better’ was the key ingredient in the secret sauce that has been the uptake of the user-centred, product-thinking, agile way of working that has become a force since the foundation of GDS.

The openness of early teams embracing these ways of working provided a roadmap for others to follow – including where the dragons may be. The open setting of precedents providing evidence for business cases far beyond their original focus, the evolution of new to Government practices like user research, content design and product management happened in the open. Good practice is shared, challenged, iterated and shared again.


Yesterday it was 30 years since Massive Attack released ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. I was 17 and it was one of those songs that just changed things. My taste grew up and evolved overnight. It was the soundtrack to my first great love. It was the song that closed my 18th birthday party a few weeks after it was released – at the Tropic Club in Stokes Croft where Daddy G and some friends gatecrashed and took over the decks as I looked on through Red Stripe clouded vision. It is a song that still sounds as fresh today as it did then but that triggers nostalgia in me like nothing else.

30 fucking years. If I didn’t already feel ancient this might hurt.

I’ve started to put new songs I like onto this Spotify Playlist.

Really enjoyed ‘News of the World’ the new Hanks movie on Netflix. It is one of those slow and soulful Westerns with just enough action to keep the blood pumping. It has some pretty heavy handed parallels to these times of ours but they don’t distract really and Hanks is solid as ever but the star is the young girl – played by Helena Zengel – whose expressive face and singing voice means you miss the fact she has next to no English dialogue.