Despite it being a guiding principle for work I’ve not been very working in the open the last couple of months. I’ve more been:
- Focusing on the full time contract I have been on since early December.
- Trying to preserve evenings and weekends for not work (when these sort of working in the open notes are tapped out).
- Helping the kids now they are doing school work from home.
I’ve had A Lot Happen this week and trying to get a bit of focus by doing this. In no way has there been any strong persuading, shaming or bullying to start publicly noting again.
At the moment I am working at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), helping them map their services, through Velocitii. I reached “the hump” this week, two months in, two months to go.
There have been some nice chats about iteration in the team and wider the last week. We have taken learnings and started a new design. Yes, we are going through a process of designing but we are not iterating the prototype (as these “tasks” are usually dished out). We have furthered our understanding, we have new thinking and we started from scratch to create a new design to show people information about a service. Yes, we stuck to the medium of a web page/site for now, that’s a consistent carry over, but we’re not iterating that design. We decided not to be held by what information and data we currently have acquired, taken a step back, worked out what people need to do their roles, explored what they need to see (and how) and then folded back onto the information and data we have to see how that stands up. It felt like a slower week in terms of progress in some ways, but also deeper in an unplanned way. We are sweating the right stuff. This thing is called one thing there and it is called another thing over there. We went deeper on the detail of the individual service detail than planned, while the navigating didn’t get as much attention. But we did sketch a couple of ideas for the navigating, get something down, which allowed us to frame the detail pages we were focused on.
Just going on record, again, to say how great it is to work one-on-one with a really good content designer.
Talked there about a web thing. Mindful of not getting too fixated on this possible solution: There are other ways that aren’t just “directories”. Dusted off the R to take some data and create some diagrams, which end users are served by which services, which programmes/areas work with which end users, each diagram just repointing from and to points. There’s some meaning in the volume based on the basic number of links to the start points, but there’s deeper digging to do here too.
To help with that I spent a large part of the week looking through diagrams. Every I do something like this it reminds me of the power of good graphic design, seemingly the lost design sibling these days. Good graphic design is about communicating, in a way others can understand. I spent time this week looking at the diagrams, printing them out to annotate, redrawing them. Less: Crunch it all and wiggle it all about so it fits on a PowerPoint slide. A bit more: Spend a little more time when creating these diagrams so they are clearer to more, maybe all, and save time further down the line. And if it needs to fit on a PowerPoint slide, part of the brief.
I found myself drawing out a lot of thoughts and ideas, on stickies, sheets of paper, in my notebook. In these Times of Digitalisation just get ideas down in a way that works for you in the first instance. You don’t have to always use an app on a computer to get something down and think something through.
I put an hour in the calendar for next Wednesday for “design people” to get together and talk design. Start small, see where it goes.
I greatly enjoyed the service design breakfast on Tuesday, some showing and talking about work this time. As always props to Leanne for sorting these monthly sessions. The next one is on Tuesday 2 March.
I got round to setting up local gov research and design meet number 4, 1pm on Wednesday 24 February. Book a place if you want to come along.
I caught that Jackie Weaver thing. A couple of people saying they just couldn’t watch it all because it reminded them of times at work that were similar… struck a chord.
Once work and chores are done my spare time in the evenings is very limited, use it wisely or not at all. I found in January writing a quick daily journal helped me be mindful of using the time well, be it daily exercise (if I haven’t done some already in the day), reading, watching TV or a movie. Oh, and Town games. I try to steer of going on social media in the evenings and definitely not in the time before sleeping (useful reading time).
I promised myself in December for the short term “out of work hours” meant out of work. This means work videos and reads are limited to working hours. There may need to be a slight relaxing of this soon, as people suggest things like Design Justice I struggle to find a time to act on those suggestions. Maybe one evening it’s OK to do these things.
Last weekend to help with my time I added a column to my film watchlist: length of film. As someone who likes to watch movies and wants to watch one, what can I watch from my list without spending a chunk of that time finding something that will end in that time period?
The boy was struggling with his schoolwork a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly the computer he mainly uses for gaming is the cliche of there to do the school work (because that’s what we all buy these for innit). We tried a couple of things. Last week the boy was working from the shed with me. This put him on my older laptop, back to me. As a refocus it went well. There were issues, like I do a lot of “together sessions” like designing with someone else over a video call, which distracted him. Shed school working lasted a week. This week he worked from his room again but — privilege alert — we did two things to help: 1. I gave him another monitor as he seemed to be struggling jumping between tabs/apps/windows, 2. I also dusted off a “page stripper” I wrote a few years back, which parses a web page, does some munging and displays it (in this case looking for some CSS classes and hiding them), to help with the very busy maths website he has to use. Not sure if it is either or both but felt like a more successful week. I’ve missed having someone else in the shed with me this week. It’s nice seeing the kids more.
Started The Night Manager last weekend. Only one more episode to go. Strong feeling of which I’d done it sooner. So off to watch that episode now. Never read a Le Carre book so don’t ask me how it compares. As a show it’s mighty fine.