Weeknotes 6 of 2023

What went well

Weeknotes 6 of 2023
Photo by Arjun Ken on Unsplash
  • I’ve been plugging away at some systems mapping for the developer landscape in the BC gov, and I’m really enoying the deep research work. I’ve mostly finished the easy part — mapping the employees — but now I have to get into the sticky, complicated stuff which is mapping the contractors and vendors. With government spending needing to be so transparent, you would think this would be easier but individual people and work are not tracked in a meaningful way, at least that I’ve found. So that’s a finding in itself.
  • I’ve been having lots of brilliant, supportive conversations with people in and out of the design community. Thank you to those I’ve talked to —most recently, Marlieke, Elizabeth, Bahaa, Kelsey, Marcus, Silas, Jacklynn, Adam, Tess and many others in the various meetings I’m in.
  • I’ve felt a sudden sense of urgency to get more organized with the design community and my colleague Jacklynn has been really helpful at boucing ideas off of and also leading the conversation around this in our crit group. It looks like some new initiatives will be starting and I’m excited for that.
  • Speaking of the design community, another fab colleague Harry offered to take the lead on the April meetup and he’s planned a brilliant meetup next week.
  • I planted flowers and herbs and have been seeing my tulips come up and get ready bloom :) :) :) :)

What was difficult

These next ones are going to sound a bit cryptic but I don’t want to share more than I can or should so I’m being intentionally vague.

  • This week I’ve come up against a common problem that I know happens in government but that I try to ignore or push through. The problem is this: within government, divisional boundaries and a (too) strong sense of ownership all too often get in the way of serving people. For example — Group A feels like they own a certain service area, and so they try to stop groups B and C from contributing to it, even though group A knows it’s not able to meet all the needs of its service users, and even though everyone wants the same outcome (especially the service users.) Something I’ve heard myself say a few times this week: User needs are brand agnostic. Service users in government don’t care if group A, B or C does the work — they just want it done. We are all here to serve one brand only: the government of BC. And in order to do that well, we need to work together and share the ownership.
  • Also this week, I had a situation where I presented a couple of quite bold ideas that I was really excited about to someone and … it did not go over well. I had a bit of time where I questioned myself and whether the ideas were any good, but ultimately I feel ok about it. Because at the end of the day, I don’t actually think my ideas were bad. They just clearly weren’t suited to that situation, or to that person. And that’s ok.

Inspired by

  • Lou Downe and Martin Jordan gave a great talk with Apolitical on how to use service design in government. Although I’m quite familiar with the work and teachings of both of them, I still learned a lot, like the importance of mapping out all of your services as a first step (which validates the systems mapping I am working on now!) Martin said something I and others really loved, about how we all need to be more like Giraffes, who look around and side to side, than like ostriches who bury their heads in the sand.
  • This linkedin post by Sara Wachter Boettcher really resonated with me this week.
  • Plus a couple of other twitter threads I enjoyed by Content Design London and Sarah Drummond.

Reading, watching, listening

  • I started watching Shrinking, it’s really sweet and touching.
  • I finished Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, it’s really traumatizing (but beautifully written.) (seriously though, alllllll the trigger warnings.)
  • I’ve gone a bit off Malcolm Gladwell since his anti-remote-working tirade, but Revisionist History did a really excellent episode on how to debate (and how not to debate) that I think would be useful to anyone to hear. The tl;dr is that we need to get better at listening, especially when we are offended or disagree.