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Weeknotes S01 E04

The one with all the change

This week has been a good one, broadly speaking.

Monday we got the green light from Washington[0] that they were ready to go live with minor tweaks. There were also some great suggestions from all three of the new crop about changes we could make to our “base model”. We loved them and I spent some time watching my colleague make the changes — as she’s leaving at the end of the week I’m doing my best to soak up as much knowledge as possible. Like a sponge.

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LIVES IN A PINEAPPLE UNDER THE SEA

I also got a chance to chat agile with a Fast Stream colleague. I’ve got another similar chat lined up next week, and I’m really excited. There might be a line in agile evangelising to the Civil Service’s future leaders!

He asked great questions, and I have to say I’m eager to see how it turns out — his original proposition was that he’d like to talk agile vis-a-vis designing a new railway station!

On Tuesday our man in the United States, my colleague Greg, set us up on Zoho. Replying by email has been our most cost-efficient solution until recently, but as we’ve grown our customer base our system is starting to become fragile. It’s taking some getting used to but I can see it’s going to be a valuable tool, once I work out how to extract all the lovely data from it.

We nipped over to Madison’s offices to talk about a potential new product. We’ve got a very minimum viable product that we think will help them with one of their processes, and so I got the opportunity to pitch it AND to talk about the client commissioning work in Discovery, Alpha, and Beta stages. Less risk and better customer satisfaction is apparently a winner — who knew?

Then it was straight back to the office to have a chat with our biggest client. We’d talked about adapting a part of our software for their need, but after spending a week scratching our heads and putting post-its on walls we’d come to the conclusion that it wasn’t realistic. I’m glad we got an answer for them in only a week, but being asked for help and not being able to provide it is the absolute worst feeling for me. Bummer.

On Wednesday I definitely should have been at the #OneTeamGov breakfast but managed to sleep through two alarms. Finally roused from sleep by a cat who seemed determined to snack on me since his bowl was empty I legged it to the office to catch up on emails and office admin. That included adding a number of new Fast Streamers to the Facebook group — a task I’d love to automate but simply don’t have the time to learn how. I also did my usual testing run through of user stories on the preview server — I cannot wait to get my “automate all the things” infrastructure stories into the backlog. What will I do with my free afternoons?

Hopefully meet and interview more excellent potential hires like Felix, who’s replacing me in September. I got to have a great chat with him about the work he’ll be doing and he seems keen and open to trying his best. He also gave me a tour of the extremely cool new offices GDS are inhabiting, and we crossed paths with the DaT programme manager — who reminded me that there’s a strict “no poaching” policy.

They’re egg purists in the Civil Service

In essence if my company poaches me we might not get Felix, or any future Fast Streamers at all. It’s understandable, but it’s somewhat put a fly in the ointment of me staying on. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.

Thursday I bounced in and out of the office. I went to the picnic organised in the pilot, and met many cool digital and non-digital LGBTQ* folks. I also left the office at 4 to get to Birkbeck, where I’m going to be doing a part-time MSc in Computer Science. I’d previously wondered about how hard it would be, and I got my answer:

Friday at last, although it meant the last time I’d see my colleague at work. She’s going to go and be awesome somewhere else, but it meant as we closed the week the office felt a little emptier. So I stuck up a poster.

Poster from https://github.com/UKHomeOffice/posters/blob/master/gds/its-ok-to.pdf

This week — having bounced around other people’s offices and spaces — has really underlined to me that culture has a huge impact on the work that you do. To that end I’m going to try to dedicate some thoughts over the next week as to how I — as a quote unquote senior leader — can make that happen.


[0] Client code name, as discussed in episode 2

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