Workweek 02×02: Streets like a sauna

Workweek 02×02: Streets like a sauna
This week the notes are a bit more succinct, with some heavier reflection up top. I like the notion that week notes are a great chance to pick out the threads which have either shone brightly or required more focus this week. Plus shorter notes make continuation more likely.

Things On My Mind

1. Support for R&D has come up as a Thing, which is fine. But it gets me asking two questions – are we “innovative”, and should we be “innovative”? They’re sort of the same question really (perhaps “what is innovation?”) but in the context of what constitutes “Research & Development”, there’s an assumption that our work is somehow new (never done before, anywhere in the world) and then marketable and “successful”.

One of the random memories I take forward from previous jobs was feedback to a sales pitch that the company had put in. “One can be too clever” it went, or along those lines. I think of that a lot when talking to many techies and people keen on having ideas. Ideas are cheap, but implementing them is expensive – not just the cash to put the sustainable market in place, but the cognitive and cultural shift required by users and clients, to shift to that way of thinking. “Obvious” solutions are often the worst, because they’re both subjective and contextless. Too clever.

So should we be innovative and clever? Or should we be focusing on simple stuff – simple product design, simple communication, simple ideas, simple solutions? So far, everything I’ve seen points to the latter being much more useful to people, especially in overly complex, bureaucratic organisations.

But where’s the innovation in that?

2. What do agile and UX look like in a networked organisation, eh? By that, I mean we work with various clients and partners, and how work (sprints, rapid feedback, etc) often requires a bit of explanation, and some time to get used to.

Is buy-in for the processes and the reasons behind them as important as actually demonstrating the value you’re offering? And how can you make that causal link clearer, between how you do something, and why you’re good at something?

3. What’s the strategy for our codebase? Agility is becoming key. Unit tests first, as a safety net for changes – the enemy is complexity. Then what? “Simplify, then add lightness” as says Lotus’ founder Colin Chapman. This feels like something I want to aim for, but how?

Oh yeah – we’re hiring!

Monday

Hot, too hot. Monday morning sit-down to see what’s going on across the team. Phone call with Kim and David on sales stuff for [Mirror Street]. Then up to London to see a man about data visualisation – some interesting conversations kicking off some ideas this week, and most of them involve setting up some kind of community scene; something about that is in my blood? But the trains, oh the trains. 3 hours of air conditioning though, so can’t complain too much.

Tuesday

In for a change, swapped days, kept thinking it was Wednesday. Can’t remember what I did, other than it was hot – probably a bit of dev work.

Had to head off early: incident between toddler and trampoline.

Wednesday

Tired after driving to A&E in Brighton and back in the evening (all ok in the end), but a day of chatting today. Caught up with team members. Chatted to another company about potential for collaboration. Board Meeting in the afternoon, which is always nice. I get to talk to some great people, all told.

Thursday

Day off. Storm. Playground. Garden.

Friday

Bit of a relaxing day, some emails to respond to, some admin, lots of dev time (hooray?). Discussed WordPress integration with Lawrence. Discussed Australian boundaries with Hon Mond. Discussed code reuse with Alex. Fixed up a few more unit tests. In between started putting together a proposal to scrape and supply data.

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