Weeknotes 7 of 2023

After a chilly March and April, we somehow shifted straight into summer on the westcoast, with temps of 30+ expected this weekend. I’m…

Weeknotes 7 of 2023
Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash

After a chilly March and April, we somehow shifted straight into summer on the westcoast, with temps of 30+ expected this weekend. I’m loving the weather but sad that my tulips are already a thing of the past :(

What went well

  • I found I was accepted as a speaker at SD in Gov which is very exciting and quite initmidating. I’m heard from quite a few brilliant people who didn't make it through the selection process so I feel really grateful to have this opportunity. I’ll be speaking on the topic of codesign, in a followup from this blog post I wrote.
  • As part of that, I’ve been spending a bit of time connecting with people who do or have done co-design in government, and I’m really enjoying these chats. I’m learning so much that I’m excited to share back.
  • In an effort to formalize and transparent-ize our design community, I set up a series of open, bi-weekly community planning sessions. The idea behind this is to open this process up so people can see what I am planning, and also allow space for people to step up into taking on initiatives, if they wish. I don’t have a lot of experience in facilitating planning sessions and to be honest, I don’t think I’m that good at it. But I think there’s a lot of value in these so I will keep showing up for them.
  • I participated in a design system workshop, which is thrilling to me because it means this much-needed work is plowing ahead.
  • I’ve continued with my developer systems mapping work and am now starting to get into the murkier parts of mapping data that is difficult to find.
  • I finally wrote a followup to my word of mouth culture blog post, about how I think we can overcome closed sharing and work more openly: Moving past word of mouth culture in government.
  • For the first time in a few years, I signed up for a weights class to become stronger. I’m not new to this kind of class, but what’s surprised me is how friendly people have been to newcomers.

What was hard

I’ve encountered some murky situations this week that have felt demoralizing… Such as:

  • I got a rare glimpse into a different part of our organization and was pretty discouraged by what I saw: a culture of tone-policing, where researchers were asked to spin (which feels like bias) their research findings to provide a more positive message, and a culture where senior leaders are mostly inaccessible to the people doing the work, and those leaders are only interested in engaging in the parts of the work that fit into the decisions that have already been made. It made me so grateful for my own leaders and team, neither of which are not perfect but do feel culturally safe, inclusive and open to the evidence that my research surfaces.
  • Another difficult situation: There was an opportunity to do some important design work with under-represented groups. I was approached about the work, but as a white Canadian-born person I felt other designers who had more lived experience should be considered instead. But then it was decided that an external vendor would be hired for this work which felt really disappointing. I hope the chosen vendor puts the same care into valuing lived experience on the research team.
  • As the reluctant leader of the design communty, I’ve been feeling lately that I take up too much air time in all the meetings. So I’m trying to be quiet and make space for others to speak. But my gosh, the awkward silences are hard to deal with. Does it get any better?
  • I have this struggle a lot and have probably mentioned it before: The struggle of having people offer to help, but not being specific about what they could help with, and I don’t feel comfortable delegating random tasks to them so I end up just doing things myself. How do I encourage people to offer to help in a way that is helpful for me? How do I get better about delegating?
  • I wish I was kidding but I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time these past few weeks looking up how to do simple things on microsoft. Reading articles, watching youtube videos …. I’m beyond frustrated.
  • And, I’ve been feeling really saddened by the sudden death of Dooce, aka Heather Armstrong Hamilton. I grew up as a writer in the early blogging days and she was an absolute legend. I can’t stop ruminating on this line by Lyz Lenz: “If she’d been a man, she’d be a humorist and memoirist. But she was a woman, so she was a mommy blogger.”

Inspired by

Reading, watching, listening

  • I’m 3/4 of the way through the The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell — it’s excellent
  • My beloved show Mad Men, one of the only shows that I can watch over and over again and never get bored of, is back on Amazon Prime so even though I know every plot twist, every Don Draper mistress, I can’t stop watching.
  • I really enjoyed “what I was thinking as we were sinking” from This American Life — the first story had so much insight into human nature and relationships during a crisis, the second story gave a insider’s look into Elon’s Twitter and had a really powerful message about the importance of the internet and having safe online spaces