Weeknote 3 of 2024

As I mentioned last time, I started a new job two weeks ago. It’s actually my first role in an organization outside of the centre of government — ever! I’ve worked with many ministries and departments and government agencies, but I’ve always technically reported into the centre. So I’m welcoming this fresh perspective.

Anyway, let’s dive in ….

What’s gone well

  • I’ve been trying to ease myself into the new role and team, so I haven’t put any pressure on myself to deliver anything tangible (yet) but rather I’ve focused my energy on learning. I think this is the right approach — Of course I have lots of thoughts and opinions but I am holding off on expressing them for now, until I have more context and understanding. This is a delicate balance though: I want to add value and start doing things and too much detail might hinder that, but I want to make sure I’m approaching adding value from a place of *some* understanding.
  • The team and ministry I’ve joined have been so welcoming and I already feel really connected to my colleagues. To be honest, I was a bit worried about this — I’m not in a product team any more, which means I’m not in the daily standups and all the rituals that build familiarity and connection over time. But so far it’s going well. Two things that I think have really helped: My manager and I check in almost daily (via chat most days but we meet once a week) and my immediate team (the Service Transformation Branch) has an active chat that’s has a mix of work things, memes and general chit chat. These two small things have made a difference.
  • I listened into a Public Digital event on building inclusive services, it was brilliant. They’ve written up a recap. Additionally, Tom Loosemore shared his wisdom on our regular #DigitalBC call and it was great as usual. You can watch it here.
  • I’ve officially transitioned ownership of the BC Gov Design Community of Government Digital Experience. This is a big change for me and so far it’s gone really well. I’m excited for what’s next for the community, and happy to see a few people already stepping up.
  • LinkedIn is not my favourite platform to use but I recently posted my job news on there and was genuinely touched at the number of people who reached out to congratulate me. It’s helpful to know there are people out there rooting for me.
  • Changing roles in the BC Gov is known to be a bit of a nightmare, with people usually losing access for several days during transition, but my move has been surprisingly fine? No bugs or issues yet — Knock on wood ….

What’s been challenging

  • Sifting through the acronyms and complexity of a new-to-me business area has been quite challenging.
  • In her recent monthnote, Coco Chan wrote something that really resonated for me — she talks about joining a new team with an established reputation, and feeling pressure to be brilliant right away. It’s something I’m feeling too, and I worry that I’m going to be a disappointment to those who know me by reputation only. I’m trying to remind myself that even at my least inspiring, I still have value.
  • Not having deliverables (yet) has made it hard for me to focus my time. But I’m trying to be kind to myself and give myself lots of patience and space.
  • I’ve been taking a lot of notes. I used to keep these notes in a free account on Notion but got tired of swtiching between tools so I’m trying to manage them in google docs. But it hasn’t been ideal. Maybe I should go back to Notion.

Inspired by:

There have been some great blog posts about the idea of starting the design process with a solution in mind, and I am loving these perspectives. I’ve found that in governments in Canada, product teams typically start with solutions in mind, for complicated reasons (including how funding works — it’s hard to get the money to do something until you know what you’re going to do.)

Anyway, here are three perspectives on this:

It’s okay to start with a stakeholder’s solution. Just don’t stop there
Starting with solutions
It isn’t always a bad thing to do.
Triage of design work into delivery
Is the work validated with users? Can you say this with confidence? Could a wrong design cause user harm (incorrect data entry, access issues, mistrust?) Are there information gaps about policy, users or technology that affect the design? NO YES NO YES NO YES START NO YES Usability testing Effort…

I also really enjoyed these blog posts:

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Plus, 4 signs your team needs a service design from Button

Reading. watching, listening

  • I recently finished Look Closer by David Ellis. It was very clever. Also confusing, as it’s the kind of book where the revelations at the end completely change the context of the first half, so you almost have to go back and re-read it (which I won’t because ain’t nobody got time for that)
  • I finished my re-watch of Ted Lasso and have been catching up on Call the Midwife, which I absolutely love. I hope it never goes off the air.
  • I really enjoyed The Question Trap from This American Life. Act 2 had me crying in public.
Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash