Weeknotes: s2 episode 1

I recently left my role in the Canadian Digital Service to work for provincial government in Canada.

I recently left my role in the Canadian Digital Service to work for provincial government in Canada.

There are many reasons for leaving my job, but ultimately it came down to: I couldn’t see a future for myself there. I spent a lot of time agonizing over why this is, and whether it’s more my issue or theirs but I couldn’t dwell on it for too long because, you know, young kids and school closures and new jobs and life etc.

Starting something new

I told my manager recently: I’m overwhelmed. Not in a bad way, but in an inevitable way. It’s a lot. I’m learning a new role, in a new organization that operates much differently from the ones I’ve been in before, and I’m doing it remotely, from a different time zone, on different technology (mostly ms over gsuite,) not to mention parenting young children, during a pandemic and school closures.

I’m also joining a very technical team, which is not new to me, but I feel like I’m the only non-technical person, which is new to me. This is uncomfortable and has activated my natural instinct to learn everything I can so I can follow the conversations, even though that may not be the most useful thing I can do, as it’s my job to look at the overall experience and not deep dive into every technical process.

But: I’m excited, and it feels like a good challenge. Things are slowly starting to come together, and everyone I’ve talked to has been really helpful and lovely.

What is the most useful thing I can do to get up and running in my new role?

My strategy for getting going in my new role has been to ask a lot of questions, from the big ones (“why do we do it this way?”) to the really specific (“where is the backlog?”) I’m trying to take advantage of my newness to ask everything I can possibly think of, even the things I wouldn’t normally ask because I’m afraid it’ll make me look dumb. Yes, people always say “there are no stupid questions” but my inner voice often doesn’t believe that and there have been a lot of things I haven’t asked when I should have. I’m working on changing this.

In addition to asking a mind-numbing amount of questions, these are of the other documents I’ve started chipping away at as a starting point:

  • An onboarding document with all the links I’ll need in one place (this helps with the service blueprint as well, seeing everything that we interact with.)
  • A glossary of all the acronyms, jargon and technical terms that come up in meetings that I don’t understand, with simple definitions as I discover things. I don’t know if it will go anywhere but it might come in handy one day when we start talking about content design.
  • A rough, simple Service Blueprint. This is a live service right now and a fair bit of research and journey mapping has been done already. But it’s super detailed and a bit out of date so I’m slowly taking information from those and using it to create something simple, comprehensive and dynamic so we can identify gaps and opportunities, and also change the blueprint as we go. I’m starting with my own knowledge but will expand this and open it up to the team and wider as I go.

I’m always curious to learn how other people adapt to new jobs so I’d love any suggestions. I feel like it takes me longer than everyone else, but maybe that’s my imposter syndrome speaking.


Since my new job is focused on Service design, I’ve been slowly working through two excellent resources: Good Services by Lou Downe and Service Design: From Insight to Implementation. I’ve also been reading a lot of articles and service design resources like BC service design playbook (obviously) and the Scottish Approach to Service Design.

With everything going on in work and life, I’ve not got off to the best start in terms of personal reading this year, but I have recently picked up Circe by Madeline Miller — it was recommended on twitter by some of my former colleagues.

(By the way, I recapped the 40 books I read in 2020 on instagram if you’re into fiction.)