Weeknotes S03 E09+10

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A baby’s play mat, covered in colourful animal pictures, toys and an ABC book
I’ve been at home with family these two weeks, so here’s an image to sum up that.

Bumper weeknotes this week as I took four days off in the middle of it to spend time with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Thanks to covid, I’d not seen them since last September and I’d actually never met my nephew (who was born in March). So a very big two weeks in my family.

Balancing work and a long awaited reunion with some of my closest people has been intense and a bit emotional, but altogether it’s been a great couple of weeks. I don’t have much energy left for weeknotes at the end of it, but here are a few.

What I did

Picked up the pace on the intranet discovery

We held a great team building session with the project team for this work just before I went on leave. This helped us all learn more about each other and our areas of work.

Learning continued in the stakeholder interviews we’re running with colleagues who use the intranet a lot, most of whom are on the project team. Finding the best way to bring together and act on what we’ve learnt from these has been a real team effort this week. We’ve made good progress and I can see useful focuses emerging for the rest of our research.

Elsewhere, our (still very new) product manager Alex has been pulling together all our plans and ideas into a clearer and more focused way forward for this discovery. Which is handy, because we need to have completed it (or at least have something significant to show from it) in the next six weeks.

Useful conversations with Comms

The content team had two very productive meetings with our Comms colleagues this week.

One was about the Royal Greenwich style guide and how we can make sure it works for both our teams. The other was about how their team currently maintains the council’s web content and what opportunities there might be for us to support them with this.

Both conversations brought up a lot of interesting points about writing for the web, how we make sure our content is inclusive and accessible for all, and what working with different teams across the council is like. Grateful for Comms making the time to chat this stuff through with us.

Learnt about the telecare service

In this week’s ‘all hands’ meeting (which includes everyone in digital and customer services) there was a short update from the council’s telecare service. This service supports vulnerable people in the borough.

Even though this update was only a few minutes long, it floored me to learn about some of the situations this team respond to. I thought I had a good idea of what telecare involves (I have elderly relatives who use similar services, and my mum was a social worker for a long time) but clearly I didn’t.

It’s made me think about the work that goes on to support people in the borough. I’m grateful to the team for sharing this insight into their work.

Also this week

  • A few of us on the intranet project had a useful chat with Sam (head of data) and Gareth (from the HR Quality Assurance team) about the possibilities and limitations about using data in this project.
  • Thanks to Niall and Mark in the technology team, we got Google Analytics set up on (part of) the intranet for the first time. Excited about the usefulness of this.
  • John, a former product manager from the Wellcome Trust, gave us a great presentation about how they designed their intranet. Key takeaway for me: an intranet can be a ‘home’ for staff (where people feel they belong) or a ‘hotel room’ (which doesn’t really belong to anyone). We need to think about how we can build the former.
  • I was on the panel for some more interviews for our wider team, which is always interesting and a privilege hearing about people’s careers and stories.
  • I joined the One Team Gov Local meet-up, which was great once again. Particularly helpful for me were sessions on how to build strong relationships with other teams outside of digital, and how you need to take care of yourself to maintain the energy and optimism needed to do this well over time.
  • I met our new business analyst Jaco and learnt more about the depth of knowledge his role brings to projects. He’ll be working on our council tax and housing projects first up, but speaking to him has made me look forward to other BAs joining us (which I think is happening soon).

Lessons learnt

  • Nobody’s asking for the content police. Chats with the Comms team this week taught me a bit about what working with teams around the council is actually like. From this, I learnt that there’s a lot of opportunity for us to work with different teams to improve or create new content. There’s no need for us to go around acting like the content police, expecting pushback and resistance wherever we go. No-one is asking for this, and with opportunities out there to do good collaborative work with service teams our focus should be on that instead.
  • We’re not competing with one another. We did a pretty big switch around in our approach to analysing some research this week, following some feedback from a senior colleague. At the time this felt scary. I was worried my initial approach had been all wrong. But speaking to the colleague showed me this wasn’t true. It was simply them bringing different experiences and knowledge to the team to help us find the best way to move forward. And that is altogether a good thing.
  • It’s OK for work to come second sometimes. I was quite worried about how work would go for me in the midst of my family visiting. I thought I’d be pulled in different directions too much and would feel like I wasn’t able to focus on either work or family. And although I was a bit (thanks to working from multiple places and the odd baby drama) overall this was a really productive and exciting two weeks. I guess it goes to show that exciting and happy times in your personal life can actually help you do better work, not worse.

What I’m reading

Really not very much (there was a baby to hang out with) but I got through a couple more chapters of Just Enough Research.


Weeknotes S03 E09+10 was originally published in Web of Weeknotes on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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August 9, 2021 at 03:39PM

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