[2024] Week 16

I’m sick of my recent melancholia – while I think I earned it honestly I need to shake it off because I suspect I would benefit from some positive vibes (and I’m probably not the only one.)

So soundtracked by the new Taylor Swift and lit by a beautiful sunny morning on this train home here are five reasons I have to be thankful;

Product for the People

Debbie, Steve and I (with considerable help from James and Tom) convened the latest Product for the People unconference yesterday. For those that don’t know this is a (very) minimal viable unconference for people interested in product management and approaches in a broad church of public service. Yesterday we had people from central and local government, the NHS, charities and consultancies who work in product, delivery, interaction design, marketing and more.

It is totally no-frills – people pitch on Easy Retro (before and during the event), folks vote and then we run two concurrent sessions x4 (in one big, noisy room – which is something we do struggle with in London). Then we go to the pub after abut five hours of conversation and group therapy. 

Other people will inevitably blog about the sessions but I actually attended and contributed to a couple this time and particularly enjoyed the ‘we ain’t ‘appy debate.

Thanks to my partners in crime (and we came up with some really interesting ideas for future events), James and Tom for the venue hook up and escorting of people, everybody who facilitated a session and just all of the folks who came along.

Housing Data Show and Tell

I think good Show and Tells are something of a dying art which is a pity as they are such a powerful way of engaging people and telling the story of the work – and providing an element of assurance and governance that feels a bit more natural in an agile approach (when it is done well.) Often these days the TELL feels over rehearsed and the SHOW is under played. This isn’t the fault of the teams most of the time – the expectations and audiences mean it has become a hard needle to thread and so there is a perception the risk outweighs the benefits of more open sessions digging into the challenges as well as the successes.

Which is why I was so impressed with the Housing Data Interventions team S&T this week. They told a really interesting story of their work, didn’t shirk hard questions from a broad and engaged audience, were honest when they didn’t know the answers and actually got into the nitty gritty of the data standards and APIs alongside the research and design thinking.

I’m going to be joining this team a bit in the weeks ahead and I was already looking forward to it but now I’m really excited.

SoWs sign off and contracts training 

The last of all the Statements of Work I wrote for Q1 were signed off this week and even though the big challenge was actually landing all the teams the week before I was surprised by the wave of relief I felt. I found the who thing really stressful for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Though I do now feel a bit better as Margaret, our Contracts Manager, gave the Major Projects Posse a refresher presentation on SoW design and it turned out I had a better grip on things than I gave myself credit for – I can definitely benefit from the guidance she gave on drafting dependencies and I need a refresher on some of the details of the data protection language but all-in-all I am reassured. Though my document/records management definitely needs more discipline (as it ever was)!

Colleagues and clients 

This week has been interspersed with so many interesting and insightful chats with lovely and supportive people at TPX and our clients. A lot of people are aware of my recent health challenges and have been checking in amongst all the work pressure that doesn’t (ever) go away. I appreciate it.

I’ve also appreciated that now those SoWs have landed and Ben is settling in (though he has been dropped in the deep end a bit – sorry!) many of those conversations are leading me to getting a bit closer to some of the work. Working up a prioritisation framework (ha – no escape) for one project, helping scope out and design the next phase for another and joining the aforementioned Housing Data team to provide them a bit of top cover when their current Lead goes on sabbatical.

Moving to a four day week

All of that new work is going to take a bit of scheduling though as I decided to formally move to a four day week from June. I’m trying to get ahead of any future lurch towards burnout if I am honest. I’ve been overwhelmed a couple of times recently between home, health and work and while I mainly was able to move past it I know ignoring those warning signs last time left me in a right mess so I’m going to give myself a bit of a break and ease back a little.

Just have to say the process was amazing – it took no time at all and everyone were really supportive (again). Thanks!

Watched Fallout on Prime. I’ve never played (or even heard of the game) so had no preconceived ideas or expectations. I loved the aesthetic and as ever Walter Goggins was amazing but generally I found it a bit less than the sum of its parts (but still fun and distracting.)

What else? 

Well I got these Messi Sambas and this new cap – I think the Kanji symbol says love…I hope so anyway

I had the Dishoom Black Daal for the first time – sumptuous

I’m reading Alien Clay by Adrian Tchaikovsky and it’s very compelling so far a nice mix of world building, character development and an unfolding plot that avoids the obvious (so far).

Enjoy the sunshine folks and take care!

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