#weeknotes 9: review, recap, engage

This week has been hugely busy. Too busy really — I was already trying to fit a lot in when Ofsted rang on Monday to say they’d be coming in for an inspection to the school where I’m chair of governors. We’ve been prepared for this visit, and the school is in really good shape, but equally it’s a thorough review of every aspect of the school, and that includes how effective the governing body is . . .



This week I’ve been working with our submit a notification team on preparing for their GDS assessment next week, and starting to think about the scope of the beta phase so we can ask GDS for spend approval. I left early (ish) so that I could get ready for the Ofsted inspection the next day. I’m the chair of governors so it’s my responsibility to make sure that we’re all prepared, and can demonstrate how we’re effective in supporting the school.


On Tuesday morning we hosted Chris, Joe and Leighton from GDS who are doing user research on the draft Government Service Standard. It was a really interesting discussion — good to see the draft standard and have a chance to comment, and useful to see how they approach user research and their techniques. Hopefully we gave them helpful insight from our perspective. At lunchtime I dashed to the school for our meeting with the Ofsted inspector, then back again to work with Noel and his team on their assessment evidence.


Today was our sprint review day, and the start of sprint 3, and we had Dan Barrett visit us. We also welcomed Michelle Bayley into the team which is very exciting. It was a great day. There were of course cakes. . .

Gluten free . . .

As ever I was hugely inspired and impressed by the outcomes of sprint 2 – a great first prototype and really useful insight from our first round of user testing. The content design team have done a great job, and the design is looking awesome. More importantly – users fed back that they trusted the information they were reading – and that’s a key product goal for us.

We haven’t got everything right yet though – user testing showed that ‘leave year’ isn’t a phrase that users understand so we’re going to look again at how we can make that clearer. And then test again in the next sprint.

Dan Barrett’s talk at lunchtime was excellent — really interesting, thoughtful and thought provoking. Lots of people came from various teams, and it’s sparked further conversations. Thank you Dan, and thank you to Charlotte for organising it. Oh and he didn’t get stuck in our revolving doors either, which was a bonus.

At the end of the day we had in house yoga – if I’m honest I arrived like this:


And left like this:


Thankyou Jacqui for restoring and reviving me. I can absolutely recommend organising yoga sessions at work – all it took to get it off the ground was a meeting room booking and a trello board. And knowing a great teacher!


Three of us went to volunteer at Bromley by Bow this week, helping people get online at one of the centres regular drop in sessions. Always a highlight — this month I worked with two women who were practicing their online skills. It’s a two hour session — which is a long time for the users to be learning for.

Lunch in their great cafe did not disappoint:

Veggie curry, yum

In the afternoon it was our sprint 2 show and tell — a good turn out to this, and the team were able to show the prototypes and what we’d learnt from our testing to our colleagues.


A trip to Birmingham to attend a one day workshop with the rest of the Acas leadership team. Useful to catch up with colleagues I don’t see very often, and to have the chance to share ideas, challenges and successes across the organisation. Philippa did a fab job of presenting our work on the digital advice service to everyone — an opportunity for colleagues based in other offices to talk to us and hear about what we’re doing.

What am I reading this week?

A seat at the table, Mark Schwarz

This book is great so far. I’m still on the bit where Mark Schwartz describes all the problems (quite depressing) but am looking forward to practical solutions and guidance in the next chapter. . .

Kit Collingwood wrote a brilliant blog post this week which articulated lots of what I’d been thinking — especially around diversity of teams that we’re bringing in on contracts. Jenny Vass wrote about a week of self care — really good advice on what could help when things are feeling too much. . . .

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