Weeknotes 17 — team space, amazing Kate(s), thankyous

A landmark week in lots of ways. I can feel that the emphasis is shifting for me now towards preparing for my new role. There’s still lots to do at Acas but the team are moving on without me and that’s good. And I’ve got some leave coming up whilst my Dad visits from Australia which means I’ve only really got a couple of weeks left before I start my new role at Hackney.

This week was Kate N’s first public weeknotes and they were great. We’ve been talking together for a while about the importance of working in the open, and why it matters in the context of change so it was lovely to see her taking the plunge.


So what happened this week?


We’re finally in our team space – and it’s looking brilliant. We’ve designed it to be as collaborative and open as possible, with shared tables and small open meeting areas. There’s still not enough room for everyone every day but with some organisation between teams I think we’ll be able to manage. And it’s a big improvement on where we were camping out before. Most excitingly the mobile wall/storage has arrived (I’ve been coveting one of these since a visit to the new GDS offices last summer).

wall space and storage combined, a thing of beauty

In the afternoon we had a final practice run through our ‘show the thing’ section of our assessment. Really useful – and I got some valuable feedback from my colleagues that mean it ran smoother on the day.

Paul and I caught up about priorities for the next month – focusing on building up an emerging devops capability and for me, ensuring a smooth handover to my successor*



To be honest I spent the day feeling nervous and also croaky with a sore throat so not feeling that productive as a result. There was a definite sense of focussed and purposeful prep across the team both from those who were presenting the next day, and from the rest of the team providing us with brilliant support.

We had a good session with our policy and comms colleagues working out a first go at ordering the topics we’ll work on during public beta. There’s lots of factors to take into account, with user need and business value delivered being the key ones. It was really valuable for John and Rebecca to show colleagues how they’ve been analysing the existing content using ROT analysis (redundant, out of date, trivial) and for us to collaborate together on a plan.

To help de stress in the evening I went for a classic, and effective, combination of yoga followed by junk food. . .

Wednesday — assessment day

we’re all smiling — we think it went well

A post assessment download in the pub. Awesome team, who did an awesome job telling our story to our Cabinet Office colleagues. Thankyou Philippa Newis, James Abley, Aleks, Cass and Jonny. And thankyou to everyone back at base who’ve been working so hard — Luka Alexander Michelle Bayley Cheryl McMillan Sarah, Julian, Charlotte, John, Anton, Jess and Curtis. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved.

And of course huge thanks to Luke, Sam Villis and the Cabinet Office team for taking time out of their busy day to put us through our paces, and ask us insightful and thoughtful questions. They gave us some good pointers to think about — developing our use of data science as we go forwards, publishing any Drupal updates to the community, and reaching out to bengubbon.

We don’t have our assessment report yet but the lovely Sam Villis said really nice things about us in her weeknotes which made us very happy.


Philippa Newis and I went to volunteer in the morning at Bromley by Bow community centre helping people get online. It was quite a busy session and we reflected on the way back that a lot of the barriers we help with at Bromley by Bow are down to poor content design on top of language and literacy barriers.

I had the afternoon off — but saw Cheryl and Philippa later on for our final coding class. It’s been great (and challenging) learning something new — and being taught by the lovely, calm and knowledgeable Rosie. Well worth reading her blogs, and about her journey from art history to coding . . . I’m even contemplating doing the next course as a result.

James Abley shared this link with me. I think regularly learning something new, whatever that is, is a really good way to appreciate other people’s skills (and a good way to remember that there’s always new things to learn!)



I worked from home for most of the day — but I started my day at Hackney, with a quick meet up with some of the team to talk about roadmaps, and engaging with stakeholders. It was great to spend some time with people, and listen to their ideas for what we might do around this in July. I’m really excited about the new job — and looking forward to starting at the end of June.

What did I read this week?

I thought this blog from Katherine Vaughan at Citizen’s Advice was really good about design and rethinking your approach based on user research.

This round of research taught us a lot. One important point is that as user researchers, we need to dig beneath what users like, to understand what they need.

Giles Turnbull wrote about agile comms in a really insightful and useful way. As someone who’s moved from comms to digital it articulated a lot of what I’ve been thinking for a while now:

You probably don’t need any comms principles

The government design principles aren’t just about “design”, they’re also widely applicable to almost anything else, including comms. If you use the design principles to guide your comms work, you’ll be fine.

*we are as excited as Kate McCaul at the news that she’s joining Acas. Cue lots of lovely tweets between the team and Kate. She will be an ace addition to Acas and I’m really looking forward to welcoming her in June 🙂

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