I suspect writing these notes now is a bad idea as I am shattered after quite the week – however I have plans to play with spray paint and Christmas lights at the weekend so it is probably now or never.
Lots happened this week including but not limited to –
- Spoke to Sarah – the reasonably new Head of Product at ONS – who was at the Stats Palace back in my day and has worked her way up from roles in digital publishing to user research to product and is now bossing it. It is brilliant to see and it was a useful and timely conversation.
- Despite all my blathering on about recruitment my efforts to bring in a Senior Product Manager and a Product Manager have been a bit of a fail to be honest. Despite all the promotion we got far fewer applications than I’d have liked, then we had a couple drop out and then it turned out I’d made some pretty heinous admin errors in both the logistics and the communication of the interview format so I’ve had to pull both vacancies. Oh well – we’ll try again in January and I’ll do a better job!
- The Secretary of State and Permanent Secretary visited the Cardiff office and after a bit of waiting around we were in their vicinity for about six minutes because they were running late. There was a photo which as ever I avoided.
- Chaired my first Service Assessment in about seven years – though I have been a guest panel member quite a few time in the intervening years. I really enjoyed it – though I found it exhausting – and the team being assessed did great. I worked hard to make it feel like a safe space for the team to give their best but – and this is no reflection on the team or our organising team – I do think the format these days leaves a bit to be desired. The assessed team basically create a presentation to try and cover everything and preempt any questions – whereas I think the questions are the useful bit and the presentation should just steer the conversation. I suspect I am the odd one out here but there are rarely any aspects of the Service Standard that I couldn’t chat to a product team about for ages.
- It was DDaT Fest yesterday – our digital, data and technology staff conference/All Hands. It was well attended and well organised and it was great to see so many people in person. I did the latest incarnation of my blogging in the open talk (the original from OpenTech in 2017 is here though it has evolved it turned out.) I decided to try a different approach for the talk in that I reread a bunch of my own posts on the topic as well as other peoples that I admired (Steve, Giles, Audree, Sam and others) and then just used my slides as prompts and decided to freestyle it with a close eye on the timings. Amazingly this seemed to work – I covered everything, answered some questions, got a couple of pity laughs and finished dead on time! Oh and I previewed BLOGCLUB ’23 – my monthly office hours for anyone who wants to try their hands at blogging and wants a little support or a second pair of eyes. The slides are here and they are pretty (useless as they have no speakers notes due to the aforementioned freestyling!)
- I also contributed to Sian (our Chief Data Officer) ‘s session in the afternoon which was about a broader, organisational level working in the open commitment. Here I spoke about the power of blogging to support recruitment but the need for authenticity not propaganda. The opportunity to empower staff at all levels to tell their own stories and contribute to the ‘network’ (my usual ‘loyal to the network not todays employer’ spiel may have featured!). I went on about the power of open roadmaps and their ability to set and manage expectations and most of all I raved about the work of Janet and the Future Farming team. If they can do it with farmers we can do it with exporters!
It was a good – if exhausting – day and I really felt like there is an opportunity to do some interesting things around openness and culture.
Put up some Christmas lights in my backyard for the first time ever. Looks nice so I bought some more!
Binged Wednesday on Netflix. It is brilliant. Wonderful TV. Best thing Tim Burton has been involved in since Batman Returns.
Enjoying the new Stormzy – he has gone full Drake on this one but it really great stuff despite that and I suspect it is going to be HUGE.