Weeknotes TEN:4 – Flappy

How do I feel?

It’s Friday, and I would say that I feel “flappy”. This week has been a rather mad buzz of ideas and different strands of work. I’ve been quite heavily involved in most of it, so it’s largely been good, if tiring. I haven’t had much time to prepare for each thing and – ironically after my ukgovcamp session on making time to think* – have often just been jumping context without a break.

I’m not sure if that’s life, or if I’m at a particular point in projects, between all the different worlds going on. It feels quite fragmented, like everyone has the confidence to have their own pet project, and I’m not quite sure if my attempts to get some focus through a planning spreadsheet are working or not, and causing me stress or not. I know I like having it there as a checklist, either way. And I suspect there will come a time when it all comes in use across the whole team. Just not yet…

* Still planning to write this up. Wow, when do you other people get time to write more than just weeknotes?

What was I proud of?

  • Finally running a quarterly update for the management team on what the Tech Team have been up to (see below). This is something I’ve learned from marketing head Kim over the last few years – presenting your work isn’t just a status update for others, but a way to show and prove the value that is important to you – to highlight what you’re bringing to the table. At a higher and vaguer level of work, or when your area is not so easily understood, communicating that value to others really helps to clarify it.

  • Trying out some User Story Mapping techniques in our UX session for a new data dashboard. I’ve read the User Story Mapping book and loved it, and caught the end of @Darwin‘s USM session at ukgovcamp at the weekend. Back in the meeting office, we plotted out major steps and used it to break down user needs, raise questions, and locate ideas. Between three of us, we had very little experience with doing this, but we managed to cobble something together, and what we did do really helped us to work out what was the important stuff.

A photo of our dashboard story mapping session.

What could I have done better?

  • Mostly, going to bed earlier. Ukgovcamp on Saturday left me pretty exhausted, as did going to bed later than hoped (11pm rather than 10pm), and being woken up in the night by #son2. Been running on coffee and that notion of momentum mostly. Fortunately the work has all been constructive, ‘comfortable’ work and there’s not been much need to ‘cover up’ or pretend to be too serious, etc.

  • Chasing up little admin-type things which are starting to build up. I feel like I’ve been letting this happen a bit this month, and suspect it’ll overwhelm me in a week or two.

  • Writing things down. I had a question to ask the week noters crowd, and I’ve totally forgotten it.

Monday

A photo of the frozen pond outside the house.

  • The week began with a total lunar eclipse and the first frozen pond of the year. Jogging through the frost of the morning was a good way to wake up after sleeping badly. #son2 is getting quick on his scooter.

  • Spent the morning diving in to hotfix a live bug. Useful test of a git merging script I’d put together before. And kickstarted a hotfix review process – we haven’t done this before IIRC, but now is a good time. Web dev John started a handy document for people to chip thoughts in. Sometimes that’s all it takes – when something fails, I think it’s good for people to have somewhere to write down thoughts for later. Maybe error review process is similar to the therapy aspect of week-noting?

  • Two good meetings in the afternoon, delving into story definitions and interface design. I think I did a good job in the first of staying at the “Why” level – pulling people away from the detail when the conversation started to go that way.

Wednesday

  • Chatted with Alex (developer) to go through his process for merging and releasing code at the end of a sprint. We broke the steps up into stages, and by type of task, and compared this to the script we already have for hotfixes. (No, autocorrect, not “bodice”.) A few clear, distinct scripts emerged from this, which along with understanding Alex’s brain more, made it fairly easy to write up a much clearer spec for what we should do next.

A photo of Alex's process and notes.

  • Spent a good, solid chunk of time writing up slides for presenting tech team progress to the rest of the management team. This felt good because two reasons:
  1. I’ve come to realise the value of telling people what I do, in order to avoid feeling/being taken for granted. Sometimes you can’t just sit back and wait for people to appreciate your own work.

  2. I got to put a bunch of gifs in of animals and typewriters

A monkey typing on a laptop.

  • Found out Mary, our recently-new researcher, researched blockchain use in international aid at Uni, which means I have someone I can waffle on to about blockchains when I get really drunk?

Thursday

  • Caught the management team up with what happened last quarter in the Tech team, what we learnt, and what’s coming up next. That middle one, “what we learnt”, felt like the most valuable section. We’re all learning, but it can often be that we only realise we’re learning that we turn out into “experience”.

Friday

  • Trying to focus on my sprint work while trying to make sure some incoming work got the planning it needed. As I mentioned right at the top, we seem to have a lot going on and kicking up, and there’s a good chance that we’ll end up very fragmented, chaotic, disrupted and frustrated in about 2-3 weeks. I’m trying hard to navigate a route through, between doing the work I’ve lined up, and responding to work coming in.

  • Idea to self: Get some time to work out where my skills are needed in all the work going on, as it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to sort out the work planning side of things.

  • I still love unit testing. I wonder how it could be applied to non-coding things, like politics and communication. Test-driven democracy, anyone?

Random stuff

(Unhappily for everybody, a utopia, as a perfected human condition, is a static society, and static societies are dystopias)

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