Weeknotes 1 of 2023

I’ve had a slow start to the new year — some key people on my team were off for extended breaks and there’s been less work to catch up on…

Weeknotes 1 of 2023
Photo by Tunafish on Unsplash

I’ve had a slow start to the new year — some key people on my team were off for extended breaks and there’s been less work to catch up on, less meetings than I’m used to. So I’ve been trying to use this extra time productively and be gentle with myself in these dark weeks.

What went well:

  • I started the workyear off with a bang by speaking at the DigitalBC monthly call about why I think our design practice practice is stalled. This is the kind of thing that — for me — feels extra risky and bold, mainly because it’s an event that (I think) a lot of the high level bosses pay attention to, and of the three panelists I was the one saying the most uncomfortable, unfavourable things about our organization. Additionally, I don’t love question and answer formats. I find it hard to think of my feet and always wish I’d said something different afterwards. But I think (hope) I got my point across in a way that doesn’t seem like I am throwing other people under the bus. So far I’ve gotten praise from fellow designers but don’t know if I’ve had impact beyond our design community.
  • With extra time on my hands, I’ve been making some plans for our design community and thinking about how I can approach it as a service. I’m starting with a journey mapping workshop for the community next week, which I’m nervous and excited for.
  • I met a new colleague and had a really lovely discussion about what it means to be neurodivergent in service design. It was such a gentle yet energizing conversation and made me reflect on a lot of the unconscious work I put into seeming normal. I’ve started to think that maybe this is a conversation I should be starting on a wider scale.
  • I also made some other connections from outside my government, from lovely people who had come across my writing.
  • As I do every January, I’ve been doing the 30-day Center Yoga Challenge before I get up in the morning. Not going to lie, it’s been difficult getting up earlier as I already get up far earlier than I would like to get the kids off to school/nursery. But I’m grateful for those peaceful moments at the start of my day.
  • As part of writing my goals for 2023, I’ve been having lots of thoughts about side hustles and things I can do outside of my day job to make the world a better place, share my expertise in a way that compensates me for my time and energy and — to be totally transparent — maybe also earn some money to help keep up with the interest rate hikes. If anyone knows of any part-time or contract work for Service Design / User Research, let me know!

What didn’t go as well

  • I’ve been looking for direction and clarity from my product team and larger team but with the slow start to the new year and various priorities, this has been slow to come. This has been a blessing (see above) but has also activated my self-doubt, which tells me that I am not “performing” or “delivering” or “impressing.” This is something to sit with.
  • I’ve been finding myself frustrated at the lack of transparency, communication and open working where I work. There’s a couple of events coming up later this month but not much have been shared about them, and what is shared is only shared in meetings or by trickling down through managers. In previous places I’ve worked (or even my previous team) these things would be shared early through slack or rocketchat, and talked about in an open way for everyone to see and discuss. I do wonder if this is at least partially a Microsoft Teams problem — people don’t interact with it like they would with slack in other organizations.
  • God I miss slack.

Inspired by:

Some blog posts I’ve been loving lately, starting with this one which was a highlight of SD in Gov for me:

Do you need another map? Probably not.
In September last year, I spoke at the ServiceD in Gov conference. Here’s what I said, more or less.
Being a responsible Service Standard assessor
I've had the privilege and responsibility of assessing the design of UK government services since 2017. I previously…
Service Transformation Branch — Kelsey’s year-end reflections 2022
In the spirit of transparency and candour, Kevin and Kelsey publish weeknotes reflecting on the what and why for their…
Prologue: How “Unbounded Affairs”: Public Systemic Design Blog Series” Came To Be
Soundtrack Prologue: “In My View — Young Fathers” (2018)

Reading, watching, listening

  • I just finished “How High We Go in the Dark” and…wow. I loved it but also it’s very upsetting at times (it’s about a plague that mainly affects children and there is a lot of death.) But it’s about more than death, it’s about life and love and grief and the universe and our future as a planet. It was really imaginative and had many lovely and heartbreaking moments. I cried more than once. This is a novel that will live in my head for a long time.
  • I finally started watching The Bear and it’s really great. Also finished both seasons of The White Lotus which was a fun watch.
  • I really enjoyed the Pig Iron podcast, about a journalist who was killed in South Sudan and his family’s search for answers. What resonated most for me was the critique of the journalism industry itself, how news outlets will pay peanuts to contractors and take no accountability when something goes wrong for that journalist. It’s incredibly disturbing, particularly in war reporting.