#weeknotes 5: trying a different approach

So, having written 4 #weeknotes using a fairly linear Mon-Friday approach I though I’d try a few using the question format that other weeknoters have used. Feedback welcome . . .

So what inspired me this week?

Lots! We had sprint 1 planning this week — and I was so impressed (again) at how using agile means that a group of dedicated professionals can bring all of their skills together to plan out what we’ll deliver collectively over the next two weeks. And it involves cake:

Banana and coconut this sprint

Sprint 1 goals are all about getting the basics right before we start building in beta. Philippa, Aleks and Charlotte built a wall for us — it’s really good to get our work up and visible to our colleagues:

Digital advice beta — first iteration of the wall

Luka Alexander led a session on accessibility for the team which was awesome. The content was really well thought out and clear and we’ll be sharing it with other teams in Acas so that we can share the learning.

I read some great blog posts that inspired me — for instance the @mattcaino blog post on what they’ve learnt from their experiences at Hackney about what makes a great show and tell. And I had a really good conversation with the excellent Alex Mecklenburg from Doteveryone planning out the final session of our digital leadership pilot.

Finally Helen Bevan is always an inspiration — this week she shared the slides from the school for change agents.

And what did I learn this week?

I had some great conversations this week with various people who shared their knowledge and insight with us. James Abley came in along with Roo Reynolds to discuss how we’ll plan our technical requirements as we move from private beta to public beta in June.

And for those of you reading this all the way through (!) I also learnt to make a gif for myself using giphy. It’s not quite right (I can’t work out how to make it smaller) but still, not bad for a first try. Any advice on sizing ?


Finally, what I’m reading this week:

I’m still reading Conversations of change — some really good insights in here but I haven’t had as many chances to read as I wanted this week.

Next on my list is A seat at the table: IT leadership in the age of agility, by Mark Schwarz.

and the soundtrack to my week has been: The boy who cried wolf, by Passenger. Beautiful beautiful songs.

#weeknotes 4: a short week, yoga, MVP

It was a short work week this week as I took Thursday afternoon and Friday off for a much needed break, hence shorter weeknotes.


I started my week with the team starting to plan out our MVP for beta. There were some great discussions, along with some challenges but the whole team are working really well together so it was a good session and a good outcome. We started by sharing our peaks and pits of the weekend — it was interesting that so many of the peaks involved spending time with family and friends, and reminded me how much we all have in common and why I think it’s so important to get to know people, and everything that they bring to work.


I also went to talk to our IT colleagues about our digital roadmap and how I see us working together to support the organisation to transform. It was a good session, with lots of great questions and discussion. They’re split over three sites so are making innovative use of skype for business to get together.


Was a really busy day — lots of meetings but I did find time for a really useful discussion about benefits mapping with Kate, our transformation director. At the end of the day I made it to yoga @rebelstudio. I’ve written before about how yoga helps me calm down and relax — often I have a lot of different ideas/thoughts/tasks in my head at once, and I find it useful to focus on just the breathing at yoga.


Busier than it might have been because I was trying to clear various things so that I could take the rest of the week off. We also had our second in house yoga session — Philippa and I have organised 8 sessions as a pilot to see what happens. This week we had 9 people (pretty much the max we can fit in) which was brilliant.



I managed to fit a lot into Thursday morning — including a skype call with Curtis, who’s mainly based in Nottingham at the moment, and a coaching session with Sarah Gornall. She is AMAZING and has been incredibly helpful in helping me work on all sorts of challenges and areas of development since last January.

Last but not least I had a catch up with John who’s joining us on secondment from a different team in Acas to train to be a content designer. One strand of our digital capability strategy is to train existing Acas people with new skills so that we grow our own talent. We’re doing this at the same time as recruiting in some of the skills we need and using digital marketplace to bring in teams to work alongside us. So far this approach has worked really well, and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved so far.


What have I read this week?

Not as much as usual — but I did find an interesting blog post about meetings and how to make them better. I’m thinking about buying the book it recommends — has anyone else got a recommendation on improving meetings they can share?

I read lots of other weeknotes for inspiration for mine — thanks Dan Barrett Sam Villis and @jukesie amongst many others.

#weeknotes 3: digital strategy, this time with more gifs

apparently gifs are integral part of weeknotes (thanks for the feedback!) so one of the things I learnt last week was how to embed them.

More importantly how was my week at work and what did we do?


I caught up with my colleague from IT to collaborate on our digital roadmap for the organisation. We’ve got an ambitious programme of work on the underlying technology — so we’re working together to make sure digital and technology are aligned with each other. Later in the eve there was a governor meeting at Holy Trinity School looking at progress data for each year group — and where we need to be focussing extra effort. I love working with the school (I’ve been a governor there for 14 years) — and it’s really interesting seeing how the leadership team approach opportunities and challenges.

Ok so this isn’t exactly progress data but it is some very cute chicks that Yr2 hatched . . .


Tuesday was ace. I spent most of it with @digi2al team and my team, getting to know them. That even involved a team lunch (yay!), and a great exercise by Kerri based on the where I’m from poem . . . worth checking out. I also got time to read the content audit report on our existing site from Rebecca — it’s really good and thorough, and highlights why we’re building a new site and digital advice service.


Wednesday was also ace (it’s been a good week generally). Sarah Prag and Gavin Beckett came in to see what we’ve done since they helped us create our digital roadmap. I had a shopping list of things to talk to them about — from benefits mapping to digital leadership.



Hmm. Thursday was way too busy. I tried to fit more in than I should have — a common problem I have and one I’m trying to get better at. There were several highlights in the day though including a great chat with our Head of Advice Services about how we can work together. Jess put up some great posters too:


I made a really good decision to work from home again on Friday morning — which meant I could answer all the emails that had stacked up. In the afternoon I caught up with the whole team. It was great to end my week with them all — planning ahead for next week and hearing about everything they’ve done so far.

What I’m reading this week:

Conversations of change, by Dr Jen Frahm. One of the first lines is ‘well hello there, haven’t you got a challenge?’. Nuff’ said, it’s great.

weeknotes 2 4 Feb: preparing for beta, learning from others, working from home

or, my second attempt at weeknotes, feedback welcome!

#weeknotes 2

For the team this week has mainly been about getting ready to start sprint 0 next week, and meeting the new team from @digi2al who are going to work with us . . .


Our newest team member Cheryl joined us today — she’s training to be a product manager. We are all VERY excited that she’s joined the team and so there was cake . . .

Today was all about content design — planning out what our approach will be to retiring existing content on acas.org.uk and transitioning over during 2018 to the new site. We haven’t built the new site yet (that’s what we’ll do in beta) but I’m trying to plan ahead as much as possible.

I also had to make it in time to Woodhouse College for a meeting about the ski trip my youngest is going on next week. But it’s always great to meet (and massively thank!) the committed and enthusiastic teachers prepared to spend 23hrs on a coach to Italy with 27 17yr olds . . .



Loads of meetings today — including business planning for next year, our monthly Transformation Board chaired by our ace Kate Nowicki and in the afternoon a beta kick off with Roo and Aleks from digi2al. Really busy day but a great sense of change happening across the organisation. Crashed into a class at @rebelstudioyoga with not a lot of headspace left, but as usual left feeling much calmer.



The highlight of the day for me was meeting Christina and Diane at Food Standards Agency . The FSA digital team are about a year ahead of us in their digital transformation — and there’s so much we can learn from them and the great stuff they‘ve done. I think we all came away feeling inspired and enthusiastic and looking forward to collaborating with them in the future.


We met up with the digi2al beta team that Roo Reynolds has put together, to get to know each other better before we start properly on Tuesday. They all seem awesome people — and there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the team about getting started next week. This is the first beta phase we’re doing so it’s a real mix of exciting and scary for us . . . I was incredibly impressed at the amazing job Jess and Philippa have done of planning out our first few days so that everyone gets up to speed on what we learnt in discovery and alpha, why we’re doing this, and how we will all work together.


I managed to work from home on Friday morning — which meant I smashed it on the paperwork I’d been avoiding all week AND gave myself some space to think ahead. Curtis and I caught up on skype — he’s based in Nottingham much of the week at the moment so it’s good to catch up on how their project is going. Then off to City Hall to meet Mina and Martyn — again, really good learning and sharing of experiences, which will lead to more opportunities to collaborate in the future. I’d never been inside City Hall before either so Mina gave me a quick tour — it’s an inspiring building to work in.

What I’m reading this week (thought this might be useful but let me know?):

Grit by Angela Duckworth. Hard work and perseverance vs talent. How often do we put success down to luck or talent when it isn’t . . .

London Rules — Mick Herron. No 4 in a series, v funny, v acutely observed novel.

So that . . . — very useful blog post by Sarah Prag

Team space, digital inclusion and #anothergreatweek my first weeknotes 28 Jan

We’ve had another great week this week in the Digital Innovation team so I felt inspired to try writing some weeknotes. I don’t know if this will be a regular thing, but let’s see.


Most of the team got together today to look at our digital roadmap and think about what micro actions we can take to engage our colleagues in what we’re doing and why. We’ve taken the idea of micro actions from our @oneteamgov colleagues — thankyou!

We’re about to start the beta phase for our digital advice service which means adding 6 more people to our team for a few months via a digital outcomes contract. Where to put them? Desk space is a challenge so as a temporary measure we’ve created a shared workspace by clearing up an area that wasn’t being used, and asking our admin team to lend us some tables. It’s not perfect but it’s a start and means we can all sit near each other.

Welcome to our touchdown space


I had a lot of different meetings on Tuesday but the lunch and learn session from @gavinelliott stayed with me all day (and for the rest of the week) and generated loads of good conversations with colleagues about mental health in the workplace. He blogs about his experience here — def recommend reading it.


Our Nottingham colleagues demoed their first alpha prototype to us — a packed session with great questions and discussion. They’re working on improving the user’s journey into our Individual Conciliation service, alongside a team from @MethodsDigital. I’m really impressed by what they’re doing, and our team are learning lots from the project.


I was really looking forward to this morning as it was our first digital skills volunteering session @bromley_by_bow centre. Once a month we’re supporting people who are learning to get online. It was incredibly rewarding, educational, and to top it all their social enterprise cafe does a mean veggie curry.



We went to catch up with our digital colleagues in the Office of Product Safety and Standards (part of BEIS). They’re as keen as we are to see where we can work together and share learning and resource — so one of them is going to spend some time shadowing our content designer, and come on some in house training we’ve organised.

Finally Philippa Newis and I have been working together to organise some yoga sessions for Acas staff, so far there’s been lots of interest. I’m curious to see whether this will be successful or not.

Trying something new . . .