Bank holiday Monday, always a fun day. Lovely and warm to me, but possibly alarmingly warm to others and the planet. Went indoor climbing indoors, where the warmth outside was felt inside as I rose to the top of the walls, like climbing was being a human thermometer. At the bottom comfortably warm, at the top where the heat had risen means clammy antecubital fossas.

Monday marked a year of Getting My Body Better Step One (a year back I did a 2km run along the East River in New York where I told myself I will fix my body goddammit), so went out for a celebratory run. Eeee, I remember when celebration were about BOOZE and CAKE not moving faster than walking pace in 26 degree warmth. I wasn’t that bothered running in the heat, which felt like an indicator how far I’ve come since last August, along with doing 10km at a steady pace in 56 minutes and 9 seconds (nowt too fast). I broke up the usual routine of running along the canal towpath and back by crossing the river at the halfway point and going for an exploratory adventure. Must have stopped about six times to check which way to go at a fork. But! Running has got me out more and back to just seeing where I go.

No BOOZE and CAKE but I did have a couple of non-booze beers afterwards (Brewdog alcohol free) and made paella, which is like a groovy Pot Noodle but made with mainly fresh foods not dried foods, rice instead of noodle, made in a pan instead of a plastic cup, soaks for half an hour rather than three minutes, and because paella is Spanish makes you think of, well, Spain and Spanishness, rather than the snack of English tradesmen.

Day 1 of should have found half an hour to weed the garden but didn’t.

Tuesday worked from the shed. It’s week 6 on NHS Jobs, working with Difrent and NHS BSA as a service designer. Humid, muggy, warm in the shed, but not like being in a sauna.

Had some back trouble (nothing major) so thought standing not sitting would be better for me. Propped the desk in the shed higher using a storage box under each leg. Had a few remote sessions: For stand up I was stood up too. During workshops I was freely stood, while everyone else could be seen sat, slumped, even lurching on their chairs and stools. I had a lot of transposing from paper into something digital, and stood drinking coffee, looking over what I was working through felt a lot lighter in my head as well as in my body.

Had some nice chats about what makes a good user researcher, what makes good product culture (and what doesn’t), and started digging up some old notes and scribbling new plans. Didn’t actually add much new. But it’s nice to revisit what a good research-based design-driven product and service culture is like.

Considered legging it to Grimsby for my first game of the season, the second round of the League Cup game - but also remembered I’d get back at gone 11pm and I need to get up at 5am the next day to drive to Newcastle. (I considered legging it to Grimsby on Saturday too, but took the boy climbing thinking it’d be a dull goalless draw and was massively wrong.) The game was abandonded due to the torrential rain that fell during the first half. Phew. (Maybe make it to the rearraneged game…)

Talking of rain, at about 5pm it started to rain for about five minutes, the odd patter on the roof. Man, the air was fresh. That just-rained feeling is more a smell than any other sense though, yeah? No?

Decided to have a first go at cold brew coffee using my Aeropress, using this method. Left it overnight and drank it on the drive up to Newcastle the next day. The method lead to tasty results.

Day 2 of should have found half an hour to weed the garden but didn’t.

Wednesday was a good on-site research session. Start with the people who deliver the service. What works, what doesn’t? They’ll tell you. They do it. They’ll also have fudges to get stuff done, tell you what is painful, and are some of the best navigators of internal processes. A cartographer’s dream and a goldmine for finding basics that need fixing.

Lots of other workshops and reviews. Making slow work of mapping because of all the other things but need the other things to be happening so I can be mapping. But getting there.

In the vening I was supposed to go for a run along the sea at Whitley Bay but left work at 7pm and I know I know work/life fail. But it was good to have some quiet time with some of the team working stuff out. Sarah even wrote a smart little post about our chat. And I got some reading in at the hotel later.

Thursday was more mapping out journeys to get an idea of the flow of the service.

Did a half hour introduction to service design show and tell to a surprisingly large audience. At the end I asked “Any questions?” The silence. Oh man. How to read it, eh. “Well, if you want to ask me anything and don’t want to say in front of everyone else just grab me afterwards or some other time.” Had a couple of people I hadn’t met yet come to me afterwards and got a couple of follow up emails. Sigh of relief. People are curious. Good.

Friday - today - was a shed day for me. I’ve politely put a couple of design review sessions into each of the last two sprints now. They might be a bind to some but with a large team they’re important points to see where we are going with our designing, get the wider input of the team. Today was one of those fruitful hours when people are together, they go deep and all come out with a lot more focus and understanding across the whole team’s workflow. Great work from Scott leading the team through his work. It’s easy for a designer to feel the work they lead is henpecked the most of any role’s (EVERYONE IS A DESIGNER, huh), but Scott had done a good wedge of thinking through, was aware it was a work in progress, was patient as people worked stuff through with him, and the team came with a helping mindset, constructively working with not let’s all hammer the designer. Sessions like these hopefully mean get-togethers preparing stories for development will be more focused on doing what the sessions are set up for, not pseudo design reviews. People sure do like to turn any meeting into a improv design review huh.

Also read the best thing I would read all week: This Marty Cagan post on product teams versus feature teams is worth your time. High probability it is relatable as well if you work in “the industry”.

Day 3 of should have found half an hour to weed the garden but didn’t, because the kids wanted to watch Dora the Explorer. Which I am off to watch now. I am predicting I will give it 6 out of 10.

Next week I’ll hopefully share some of the mapping I’ve been doing. It’s good to know more people understand what service design is, are thinking wider than a digital product, and we’re starting to get a proper idea of what the service is. Win win.

Still don’t have Slack back on my phone, by the way. All good.

Not sure about this day by day approach to publishing notes. Liking putting some non-work into here though. Life isn’t just about work.

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