Weeknotes 05×03: 10 Years Later

It’s dark. The kitchen light is off, and I’m dragging the laptop out, sitting down at the table and writing by the ambience of the sidelights. I’m out of the Weeknotes rhythm, and it feels a bit like I’m starting again.

I’ve been back at work for three days. I didn’t take notes, as I quite enjoyed writing reflections from memory a couple of times last year. But not at the end of the year – I skipped a couple of weeks of writing anything up. It was all just that little bit too cray-cray. In between some internally-set-yet-still-pressured deadlines, salary reviews, and board meetings, there were trips to hospital for #son2, and the usual festive activities of worrying about what presents to get for people and trying to cajole people into winterval logistics.

I’m not a Scrooge, I *do* really enjoy Christmas. I just find the other stuff – the need to get work finished early, the manic consumption, the pressure to stick to some haphazard ‘rituals’ – a little too much when combined into the same, three-week dash. So the highlights for me were 1) our Christmas office do with an amazing quiz with an amazing music round and scavenger hunt, 2) getting to actually go out for a meal with the missus, and 3) Christmas Day at last, when there was no more organisation needed, just early starts, and lots of chocolate.

Weeknotes fell by the wayside in among all of that. Which was a bit of shame, because at the same time, the work we worked on was, I think, some of our best yet – in terms of organisation, setup, implementation, flexibility, robustness, and delivery. All the pieces were in place, and I think there’s a lot we, as a team, could celebrate and learn from in hindsight. We haven’t had a retro since, but I might suggest one which looks back at this, in a “yay” way – too often I think retrospectives are keen to “fix” something that annoys people, rather then reinforce the stuff which inspires us. In fact, I’ll Make It An Action.

TODO: Suggest next retro idea is “why things went well”.

There, I’ll come back in a week and see if I’ve done it.

This week was three days as we all returned on Wednesday. We had a fairly quiet first day back, trying to remember what we did the year before. Thursday was the day to plan a fresh sprint. Friday was the start of dealing with the Meltdown/Spectre fallout, instead of the planning I’d planned to plan.

This week I’ve been taking the advantage of a fresh start to get some plans in place, and I’m both (as I tend to be) excited, and anxious and impatient and wanting to do everything Now Now Now. We started getting our next few months of projects together, which meant UPDATING THE BIG GREEN BOARD again, which I always like. One of our biggest challenges, I think, is to balance project planning between the many different projects and products we run, so anything that sorts through the maelstrom is bound to feel good. Cracking this challenge properly would be a great accomplishment this year, if we could.

As joint Product Owner for the _HIVE PIXIE_ product, I’ve been pushing to get some more concrete plans and aims in place to move on with. I don’t feel like I have quite the buy-in I’d like yet, and it can be a pretty lonely job sometimes, but I’ve had the chance to practice some basic product ownership, and this week have decided to just push on with my own instincts, suggest defaults, and see if anyone argues vehemently against me.

It was also great to start the year with Kim (Comms and Marketing lead) joining the ranks of our senior management. She knows what she’s doing, and it’s great to be able to get her opinion on the Things we discuss, as well as to give her more responsibility for the work she’s already basically in charge of already.

We’ve also started lining up annual reviews for the management team, including myself, over the next month. For the, this has been on my mind a lot – I’ve now been with OCSI for 10 YEARS exactly, which makes me feel either old or abstract, I’m not sure which, or maybe they’re the same thing? I bought some cupcakes from Sainsbury’s and finished off an office bottle of whisky to celebrate, while CPU security patches rolled down the window like raindrops. (There are also rather a lot of chocolate coins and leftover Christmas food in the office, so we’re collectively anti-detoxing ourselves successfully.)

So I’m at that stage where I’m really wondering, after 10 years, what the hell I’m doing and what I should do next. I’m lucky – I get to do a lot of different and interesting things in my job, which isn’t really a job title or description beyond merely “fairly good with making computers do things” and “OK at making other people make computers do things”. This year I’ve been doing team leading, product strategy, strategy strategy, understanding finances, client talking, and trying to cheer people up, among other things. I’ve basically got a free rein, which begs the question, “yeah, but what do you WANT to do?”

I have some draft answers to this, but they need some grounding now, like bouncing creative ideas off a team for developing a website, except I’m at the point where it’s “me” (or “a” me) that’s being created. I need that external perspective – an annual review will be a good chance to do this, but I intend to pick other people’s brains about it too. I couple of people offered their ears and advice over the last year, and it’s about time I take them up on it.

Oh, I’ve also started tidying up bits of the office as well. Feels like it could be a good year.

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