Weeknotes 13/2022

A mini-break, awkward conversations and hopefully some good news from the union …

Weeknotes 13/2022
After the storm

What went well:

  • Alex (the awesome new researcher on my team) and I completed a round of research on our service’s new public website. It went well and honestly was just so nice working with someone else on research after doing it on my own for so long. The research insights suggest we may need to make some largish changes so that will be a challenge but a good one.
  • I also somehow found time to run another mini-research project on our developer community’s use of our internal stack overflow. I’m pleased that I managed to do this with limited time and still get valuable insights but a bit conflicted about the research for bigger reasons (more on that)
  • Our BC Gov union’s strike action, which was causing me a lot of anxiety, appears to be coming to a close. It will be a huge relief for everyone to have it resolved.
  • I did a small solo trip with my kiddos to see their cousins while my partner is away for work and we all survived and had a nice time away. I worked while away (with the ongoing strike action, I couldn’t submit a vacation request) so having family around helped me balance it all.
  • After putting it off for ages, I finally booked my flights to the UK for SD in Gov, and started doing the slide design for my talk.

What didn’t go as well

  • I mentioned earlier that I was asked to run a small research project to validate a tool that we implemented recently for our developer community (stack overflow.) In research, we’re meant to be looking for objective truth and this wasn’t that type of research — it was very much, “let’s find people who we know like this tool to tell us why they like it.” It’s not evidence-based decision-making, it’s “decision-based evidence-making.” I brought this up with the team and they agreed, but we made the decision to go ahead with this research anyway (which is fine for now.) Here’s the struggle for me: These conversations have highlights how often I see this approach in our organization. Try as we might to be user focused, the truth is that most product teams in the BC Gov are using research as a way to validate and improve on the decisions we have already made. Discovery research isn’t really a thing, and users aren’t usually the centre of decisions. How do we change this?
  • More uncomfortable conversations: Last week I saw some family members and briefly brought up the current strike that was happening in our union. Someone in my family told me (jokingly obvs) that they would run me over with their car if they saw me picketing. Most of my family is pretty conservative-leaning, pro-capitalism, anti-union; I love them anyway and do my best to understand where they are coming from. I know this was a flippant, throwaway comment but I can’t stop thinking about the sentiment behind it, and how this plays into the political landscape I live in. Why is asking for a living wage that keeps up with inflation seen to be a radical thing? Why are union workers the villains here? Why do people see it this way and what would it take to convince them that people’s lives matter more than the places they work? It boggles my mind and worries me to no end.

Inspired by …

Reading, watching, listening

  • I devoured A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman in 1.5 days. It was lovely and thoughtful.
  • I finished all seasons of Line of Duty.
  • I spent a lot of time in the car on my mini-break with the kids so I binge listened to Dr Death.