What it’s been a fortnight of follows.
Quite a few catch ups with friends and old work acquaintances. Some face to face, some remotely. It’s good to talk about stuff that isn’t work, the other stuff in life. It’s good to have what you are doing at work hyper analysed by people you respect and bring different thinking to the party. It’s good to talk about where is all this going. It’s just good to be honest. It’s just good, to be honest. All good.
I’ve closed off my most recent “minor project”. A bit every week pretty much since the start of the year with people at a place that I’ve a lot of time and respect for – and I felt was returned. I’ve shied away from “leadershipy” and “managery” stuff for a while now, quite happy to just plough through grind work, but this chance felt right, it wouldn’t interfere with any “main project” I was doing, and when that happens you should roll with it. I am looking forward to what happens next for them. One of the most rewarding bits of work I’ve done for a few years, a lot of mutual respect. Ending it off also brought up a “Would you go full time again?” chat. This work definitely shifted/cemented my thinking as to what I want to do “next”, if I did go “full time” somewhere. (Because as a freelancer on a longer term contract you have always got to be thinking of what is next. Next always comes.)
But at the mo NHS Jobs still takes up most of my working week, helping Difrent and NHS BSA out. Last week was end-of-sprint/start-of-new-sprint, so there was a bit of a show and tell of the work I was involved with amongst the rest of the team’s work. Actually nice to look back on a couple of weeks wedging in-browser prototypes together. It is always nice making, limited as the scope of the work was. Getting back to that is why I gave up manager/directory stuff, get tinkering more (although wasn’t planning on quite so much just hacking together websites, but another thing for another time). As of this week I’ve started making sure I put aside a couple of hours into my daily planning to help the others in the team if they need it. Make sure I meet my sprint goals, make sure they can do the best they can meeting their sprint goals.
- Always reminding what is the problem they are trying to solve?.
- Look wider: It’s not about functions, it’s not about screens, it’s about features, it’s about journeys.
- Don’t hung up too much if someone decides to make the feature a bit at a time.
- Look wider still: Explore what could work, find what does work, and then step back to find the incremental way the feature could build up to that by being built.
- Get stuff out there, decent stuff out there. Know what you’ve got out there, why, and how we gonna learn.
Some nice chats on what does it mean to be a designer in these sorts of environments, creating something that is finished versus incrementally creating something that is always in flux. Project versus product. That is a culture shift some of us used to continual progress sometimes overlook. They’re a good crew that team though - they get it. We had our most rewarding design review I have experienced in my time on Jobs. Once we got the screen working.
Yet more discussion about What Does A Service Designer Do? under this fortnight (tying into the chats with mates and old colleagues). Is it really service design when you’re ensconced in a “digital” bit of a public org? Is it actually service design in lots of gov departments, huh? But at the mo I just get my head down: make the journey maps, pulling together a draft service map, see where things are by the end of this sprint next Wednesday. Regroup, go again. The team I am working with, working on the website that is How We Get People To Help You With Your Healthcare. That’s quite a responsibility. Always worth reiterating.
I had a really interesting catch up with the NHS Digital service manual team, looking at some form guidelines they’ve been working on. Some good good good stuff in there. Chuffed to see where that stuff has gone in the last couple of years. Shout out to Misaki at NHS-D for being just so cool.
Leeds Gov Jam planning warmed up this week. Five or six years into helping with the jams and it is never a chore! I phoned into a catch up on Thursday lunchtime walking to the train station, battling a poor line, the traffic noise, and the blustery wind to just about make out what everyone else was saying. Could they hear me? Another catch up on Friday lunchtime with a smaller posse to work out what we are actually doing over the two days – and what the jammers will be doing. Answer: As much jamming as possible! The plan is just a framework for the jammers to have a good go. (Maybe that’s what I do for a living, frameworks for working.) Come along to the jam (or one of the others in Blackpool, Liverpool, or London) and get hands on doing some service designing. (I put a post on LinkedIn if you want a lot more info and also want to share with your networks.)
I had plenty of run ins with shitty user experiences and tech. A couple: Yesterday at the doctors (which I quickly wrote about) and travelling yesterday (which I’ve yet to write about but will).
World Mental Health Day gave me a chance to share something I recoded previously, my talk at 40x40 earlier this year. The damaged middle-aged white guy look, eh. But do look after yourself and each other.
Talking which: Running. Got run notes for September out. Need to work a bit more on getting my weekday running into order. It’s gone to pot since the start of September. Tried breaking that by going to the hotel treadmill on Monday and getting out at 6:15am on Wednesday. Last weekend had a good mooch about Esholt Woods. So many little bits of engineering about that place. So curious, so fascinating.
Saw Joker. “Liked’ isn’t the right word, nor “enjoyed”, but I appreciated it. Everyone is a critic (as well as a designer etc etc). Managed to finally start the second season of Dark too, dubbed this time not subtitles. I am such an culture traitor.
I recommend Hurrell’s weeknotes. He’s on a sabbatical and don’t we know it. Good to hear when someone is using their time richly.
The Wagatha Christie thing has made my year. Best storytelling teaching me about an app’s features yet. What? It’s not a clever marketing campaign to teach you about a function in Instagram stories? Dang. Still educational.
Totally recommend not letting your cat out in your car, by the way. She pissed on the mat and I didn’t realise for a couple of days. At the time it was fun, aaawww look the cat is riding along with me! It has taken a lot to make the car smell not-cat-pissy again.
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