If I am honest I thought I’d be in a different place professionally by now. I had fantasies that cast me in a kind of civic tech/digital government procedural show where I was some kind of wizened House M.D figure (or more likely the comic relief in an ensemble – Sylvester in Scorpion perhaps) who drops in on the crisis of the week, month, quarter, says a few wise words, scribbles on a whiteboard or two, helps the team make a breakthrough and then quietly exits seeking the next challenge. Hey, Tracker is the most watched television show in the US at the moment – the format works.

This is not my working life. 

I’ve also long been fascinated by the concept of an Editor-at-Large. A journalist/writer who has reached an exalted status where they are neither manager nor managed but are empowered to find and deliver the work they want to do with minimal oversight (but not without some responsibilities to their organisation). They take on passion projects, mentor other staff, provide a sounding board and generally contribute according to their own priorities – but they do contribute. It isn’t charity – they need to earn their place.

(All this is based on a pretty theoretical understanding of the role based on things I’ve read – it may be bollocks!)

Neither is this my working life.

When my health issues bubbled up in late March at the same time as a particularly fraught moment with my work it triggered some (outsized) discontent about the shape of my role and what I perceived as a mismatch between my priorities and that of the company.  When I have had health issues in the past I’ve tended to escape into my work…and when I’ve had work problems I’ve escaped into my other interests. This time it was all happening at the same time – stress on stress – worry on worry. It all got amplified in my head (and heart) and I fear I have been a poor colleague over the last couple of months. Cynical, quick to show frustration and not nearly proactive enough in making things work better.

As I wrote yesterday my health is – if not exactly a picture of perfection – definitely trending in a better direction. I’m getting a handle on the meds and the lifestyle changes and the cognitive burden has lessened significantly.

So I’ve given myself a firm talking to and I am heading into tomorrow with a new attitude. I’m lucky to have this role, to work with people I like and admire so much, to have opportunities to work on fascinating and important work. There are things I really don’t like about the job but I need to get in there and help change things, not just whine (great at that though I am!).

One thing I am sure of though is I do need a Mission/Service/Programme to really align with – I’ve been in a bit of a liminal space since Ben took over the Local Digital work and I want to get deep into something (and I miss being properly part of a team so I need to seek that out.)

This might mean I need to get involved in the Growth side for a bit maybe – help us win something I can dive into – or maybe one of our great clients has something Jukesie shaped and just don’t know it yet

So who knows – maybe that show just needs a rewrite and it’ll end up on a streamer!

Appendix 1

I don’t know why I wrote this list – it was going to be a part of this post but things went in a different direction in the writing. Still I thought I’d leave it in as reminder to myself I’ve worked a LOT of places. The eras go – part-time, lost years, the library/HE years, the GDS era and Covid/Post-Covid.

Time for a new era.

Newsagent paperboy
Circle K
WH Smith

Bristol and West

University of the West of England
Parkman Engineering
Economic and Social Research Council
Jiva Technology
Jisc (again)

Medical Research Council
Office for National Statistics
Environment Agency/Defra
DVLA (w/ Notbinary)
BBC (w/ Notbinary)
UK Hydrographic Office (w/ Notbinary)
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (w/ Notbinary)
Food Standards Agency (w/ Notbinary)
Cancer Research UK (w/ Notbinary)
Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (w/ Notbinary)
PGS (w/ Notbinary)

Essex County Council (w/ Notbinary)
Welsh Government (w/ Foundry4)
Department for Education (w/ Foundry4)
UK Health Security Agency
Department for International Trade/Business and Trade
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (w/ TPXimpact)

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