Weeknotes: s01 e01

True fact: it’s called the pilot because it’s what gets a show off the ground

I am a Digital and Technology Fast Streamer in my second year. I’m currently on secondment to the private sector, where I own a Software-as-a-Service platform. I’m also the co-ordinator for the Fast Stream Forum, a network formed to support Fast Streamers across government.

These are my weeknotes

Monday

At work we had our weekly push to production, so I wrote up a release note detailing all the changes we’d be making. Writing release notes is one of my small joys, because it’s a unique content-writing opportunity — you’re only speaking to people who already use and understand your product, which means there’s less chance of misunderstanding and a closer relationship. That means I can be more playful than I otherwise would be.

If it’s corny but it helps build rapport, it’s still corny

There are much better examples out there, so go and read those. Come back after though. Please?

Tuesday

I try to put aside half a day on Tuesdays to look at the backlog. Our resources are tight and our ideas are infinite, so it’s always challenging to look at all the things we’d love to do and decide which one is actually important. There are times when I get it wrong, but starting with user needs is a helpful way of distinguishing the great ideas from those that are just exciting.

I also organised a conference call — long time readers might remember that I helped to organise a conference earlier this year, and the bidding process has begun for Fast Streamers looking to organise it for next year. A few members of the team agreed to speak about it, so I got to send out invites for a conference conference call.

All I want is a reason to include this in an official email somewhere, somehow

Wednesday

I didn’t make it into the office, but I’m lucky because my organisation works entirely out of the cloud — so I sat at home with my feet in a bucket of ice water and reviewed customer support emails. I love seeing these because although they indicate something went wrong, it’s the first step to getting that problem fixed. It’s also an incredible insight into what people are doing — the platform is software that smooths the permitting and licensing process, and it means I get tiny sneak-peeks into things that are being filmed before they happen. It’s weird but very cool.

In the world of the Forum I checked some new entrants into the Facebook group we’ve organised. It’s a community tool that helps new entrants get to know each other and ask questions that are worrying them, and an opportunity for us to talk about all of the exciting things the Forum does to support Fast Streamers — from diversity networks to Book Club to the chance to learn a new language.

I also got a chance to chat to Kylie, who’s just all round incredible. She recently did a talk about normalising diversity that you go and read right now. She asked why I never come to Rainbow Raves, nights out for an LGBTQ* network that started in MoJ but is now cross-government. I responded that I’m just too old for heavy drinking (#27morelike47) and in less than five minutes she’d organised a picnic.

It’s not an overstatement to say I’ve got everything crossed for my next post to be in MoJ digital. #fanboy

Thursday

I got my offer to enrol at Birkbeck University, where I’ll be undertaking a part-time MSc in Computer Science. I was elated for a whole day, before suddenly getting very nervous about juggling my full-time work with the MSc, which includes (among other things) a “major piece of programming work” and a 12,000 word report on the same.

Ruh roh indeed

Naturally I turned to Twitter, where all neuroses go to flourish. I got a huge wave of useful, friendly responses: some reckon it’s feasible, others reckon I should just do it full time. I’m still weighing it up, but I’m hopeful that my next post — starting in September — will be supportive and understanding.

My team did the sprint retrospective, and as always it was a valuable. On this occasion a team member I’m supporting took on a facilitation role and kicked ass, so I’m hopeful she’ll continue to do it and build her confidence. Our dev team are out in the canary islands (#notatalljealous) so retros aren’t as easy as they would be if we were all in the room, but we managed okay.

Friday

Today was another day when the programme I’m on clobbered me with the realisation that it’s awesome. The committee of the Forum got together and i got to hear about the incredible work other people are doing — Nathan, who looks after diversity networks, Lauren who’s working on continual improvement in our learning and development offer and Kieran, who’s doing huge work on improving the social aspect of the Fast Stream. I got to present my ideas for an external wiki to improve knowledge maintenance and the work I’m doing to improve communications.

The rest of the day was spent writing a strategic roadmap and vision for the future of the platform. I like writing these things because I get to talk about what’s possible and articulate a vision that stretches further into the future than the product’s roadmap. Technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and one of the key differences and best things about the private sector after government is that I can be a little more relaxed about using untested technologies — the cost of failure is significantly lower, although there’s great work going on to change that with devops practices being sponsored in the big departments.

That’s my week. Next week I’m on leave for two days and at the AWS Summit in London, so wave at me if you see me.