Weeknotes 07×03: GDPR. Development. Personal. Reviews.

Sorry, no time for gifs or pics this week… THE CONTENT IS TOO INTERESTING IN ITSELF.

Before the week…

What am I looking forward to this week?

Breaking the back of my GDPR work. Unless it breaks me first.

No crazy deadlines – I should take the opportunity to smile a bit. I’m far too concerned about whether I doing the “right” thing. Last week taught me I really need to rest more.

The second round of Book Club.

What am I not looking forward to this week?

Hmm, nothing in particular.

What am I not sure about?

Discussing mentoring and my own career. Feels odd just writing it down, tbh.

Expected theme

Good progress on multiple fronts. Expect pretty boring weeknotes then…

After the week…

Actual theme

GDPR. GDPR. GDPR.

What surprised me?

Getting staff development back on the agenda.

How much I’ve taken unnecessary things off my plate the last few months.

Space for links.

  • GDS book Digital Transformation at Scale via Emer Coleman’s blog
  • Cape Town Water usage map – Cape Town had to cut its water usage by more than half, to survive the year, which meant massive, coherent action across a divided city. What role will real time data visualisation play as feedback, as we have more need to change habits in the face of climate change? Can it be integrated sensibly with civic change programmes, or will it be flapping alongside, a tech or artistic curio?

Monday – GDPR and team development

Monday sit-down. Dev stand-up. Got on with some code reviews to keep things moving. The current work looks within striking distance, and John is off from Wednesday, so important to keep things ticking.

Some solid GDPR work – audited our main databases to check for user data, and all as expected. Draft plan in place to tidy up a bit, and caught Stefan (PO) to work out when we can do the work. Google Sheets, Confluence checklists, Jira, and post-its, all working in uniform at last. Very happy.

Monthly management meeting after lunch. Bit of a push through finances – useful stuff, but tricky to draw a line between getting an overview, useful discussion, and too much detail. Would be good to get a better agenda for this meeting, and a chair to keep thighs “fresh”.

I got to discuss options around possible mentoring for me, and we decided the time/cost isn’t quite right (which was a shame, but why I wanted to raise the question with others, and fit with my own hesitations). Best result was that it aired the conversation around personal improvement across the team as a whole, which is important – moreso than my own mentoring.

The balance between company and self – partial vs impartial – in this decision is a strange one. As I suspected, personal development needs to tie in with company plans, and as ever, I don’t have much of an idea on how much weight others want to place on “tech” in the company.

If I don’t go for this particular mentoring, it does leave me with a bit of change of plans though, and I guess I’m back to looking for maybe some free mentoring on tech leadership.

Tuesday – Code Reviews and Pokemon

Code review day to keep the current dev push ticking along. Mostly Javascript, which is a good opportunity to sanity check and pick developers’ brains. Code review is all about my learning, and today I had a useful discussion about semi-colons (really?) and realised I needed to document some code approaches better, so did.

I still feel a little uneasy about code reviews, and a wary about coming across as too antagonistic. Developers are often (rightly) proud of their code. But also (wrongly) want to move on to getting the next thing working. Code reviews stand somewhere in between criticism and learning opportunity, but neither is inherently welcome if the attitude is one of just “get stuff working”.

It feels like code reviews could have their own cultural definition. Time for a spin-out blog post!

Went Pokémon hunting properly for the first time, with 4 kids. Kind of oddly hilarious.

Wednesday – Me and Future

Activate completer-finisher mode – pushed to close off a bunch of sprint work. Jumped into Javascript and things went well.

GDPR catchup on our servers.

Had a bit of a 1-1 with one of our Board members, which was really good. It’s been a while (or never?) since I’ve talked through my thoughts on my own role, and what the company is doing. One hour is pretty short, so it was a bit scattered, but came out of it much more relaxed.

Firstly it helped me to list the stuff I do, and work out which aspects I enjoy, which are necessary duty, and which I’m just “hand-holding” temporarily. I can start to think about “exit options” and handover ideas for the last of these.

Second, it gave me some confidence to push forwards on the things I think are important to me. I really want to get a stronger tech programme in place – it feels like we’ve got a bit “settled” in our habits, and it could be pushed forwards a bit. In reality, this would mean stronger change and adaptation, including :

  • better staff skills and learning
  • clearing up code debt
  • bolder, clearer roadmap for internal change
  • more integration across the company, rather than just my team
  • clearer, nimbler process for all of the above

I feel like the last couple of years have been a lot of on-the-job practice to work out how to do the these things. Now I’m ready to apply it all.

Lastly, by listing my roles, I also realised how much stuff I’d already handed over, these last few months. A couple of the hand-holdy projects I used to list in my roles were no longer there. Not writing them down reminded me that it’s ok to relax a bit again.

Also #son2 has some spots. Has he got chicken pox?

Thursday – Small Steps and Learning

Catch up chat with our partners to raise some GDPR stuff with them.

Released an update to a site, trying out some new deploy scripts which almost worked. Took longer and was slightly more nerve-wracking than expected, but all fine 😉

Had a very positive chat with Stefan (PO) to arrange one small next step we can do to improve our debugging process. In essence, it was a chat to ask “permission” to raise errors more clearly, with a simple decision to use a single label in Jira, and agreement to review these regularly. Another small, but important, step to happiness…

Chatted through options on some analytics work with Joel. Should be a nice bit of work coming in over the next few weeks.

Had some fallout from a “bit of an incident” from the day before, which I wasn’t directly involved in, but tied in with thoughts on staff learning I’ve been having the last few months. Everyone makes mistakes, but not all mistakes are equal. Errors are the best way to learn, but not always good for the whole. How does a manager know when to let mistakes happen, and when to step in and stop them?

(The risk of “micromanagement” comes up, but rarely gets mentioned in the context of “a series of small errors adds up to systemic catastrophe”.)

As above, we have code reviews in place. But an error-encouraging environment needs a lot of infrastructure in place. This week, 1) code reviews missed a piece of functionality being missed out (although this got caught by testing), and 2) I noticed some reviewed code which could have been better, and went back to help (“force”) a bit of a rewrite. What does that say about our failure infrastructure?

Yeah, can definitely see a series of blogposts here…

Friday – Chicken and Pox

Turns out #son2 does indeed have the chicken pox, not just lots of insect bites, so stayed at home to look after him. Got an hour on emails, although was most proud of summarising an overview of the immediate upcoming priorities. Summarising stuff is definitely an art.

Kultcher

Reading

Writing

Pondwatch

  • The little white rowing boat has been seen, out from its slumber shed, being prepared to guard against liquid leaks. The boat is named after a lady who helped get the pond setup as a community adventure. I really want to catalogue all the names the pond has dedications to.
  • Pulled out a road sign that had been dumped in the pond. It was covered in lime green blossom floating near the pond edge.

Also published on Medium.

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