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Weeknote: Consolidating accessibility resources, Storytelling and Team well being

tobiogunsina Product management, weeknotes Leave a Comment

Hi! This is my first weeknote in a while!  I was off work before the Easter break, then sick for a bit after that. My time off was great until I became sick, it felt so good to be at home, have childcare and just spend my time chilling, decluttering and such. I should definitely take more time off with no real plans.

Here are four things that happened, the highlights since I’ve been back….

4 things that happened

One – Consolidating Accessibility Resources

One of the insights from our last research was that people are not sure how to find accessibility resources when they need it. They are available in many different places, on wikis and on GOV.UK, making it hard for people to find what they need. 

We believe knowing where to find accessibility resources will empower people to create accessible products and address accessibility issues. 

To fix the problem, we had a kick-off session to look at the needs, accessibility resources that are already available and where they live ( i.e on GOV.UK, in wikis), the information that’s missing from each source. 

This helped us identify a few actions to take to consolidate more internal facing accessibility resources like tools available to use, events and accessibility crits etc

The accessibility monitoring team already did a good job of creating a collection of available guidance in a new guide – guidance and tools for Digital accessibility. We’ve seen that there are a few gaps like no links to role-based guidance or WCAG explanations. These things already exist in other places, for example, the DWP accessibility manual is an excellent source for role based guidance so we’ll just fill those gaps with already existing information.

We also thought about how to measure the success of our efforts so we’ll do a survey to benchmark how people find information. 

We met with Craig Abbot, the head of DWP accessibility to talk about their accessibility strategy, which is brillant. We’ve found a lot of similar issues and been trying to do a lot of similar things. The Accessibility manual definitely saves us a lot of work so we’ll just be contributing to that. We may also be able to reuse some of the training they are designing. Yay for collaborating across Government. 

We hope to talk to other departments like HMRC and Homeoffice who also do a lot of work to champion accessibility.

Two – New team member on the publishing team and a lesson on story-telling

Our little group that has been working on structured information discovery has gotten a little bigger – we now have a designer! We spent some time providing context and talking to him about the work done so far. 

It has helped us realise just how complex it all is and how we should do more work to make our documentation and narrative so far easier to understand 

We also had to do our first official team check-in with the management team with very short notice. I worked with our new designer, Conor, who is great at storytelling to refine the narrative about the work we are doing now, how it fits into the publishing workstream as a whole and what our priorities are. 

What I found interesting was how illustrating the core narratives through images really helped tell the story better and helped the message hit home. It certainly reminded me to not forget the power of images and to approach each slide with questions like – what is the actual message I’m trying to pass here? Will it land? Can it be more concise?

Three – Drafting Objectives for the year

For the first time in a long time, I actually started drafting my objective in April, you know, the month where you are supposed to draft them, haha. 

I thought I would hate the process but I’m actually enjoying defining them early because it helps me really proactively think about my development objectives and corporate objectives too. I’m also helping my line report review his, which in turn helps me think through mine and make them SMARTer.

My development objective this year is easy to define because I got into the GDS ‘leading for success’ programme, which is designed to support people in GDS to prepare for bigger and more stretching leadership roles and is expected to cover inclusive leadership, strategic management, change management with some opportunity to practice what we learn. 

I’ve never gotten into any Civil Service talent program so I’m actually excited.

Four – Team wellbeing and a task master game 

On the GOV.UK accessibility team, we’ve done quite a lot to support each other. Trust and psychological safety are very important in a team and through constant conversation and deliberate effort, our relationship as a team has become truly amazing. 

We’ve done a lot of things to make that happen

  • Optional Daily fika so we have more opportunities for conversation 
  • Manuals for me and quizzes to make sure we actually read them
  • Listening hours where anyone could talk about anything they wanted to share and others could just listen or contribute. 
  • Fun social events like a taskmaster game where we did challenges like ‘turn yourself into a rock star’ or “look like you are at the beach”

it has meant that we are very supportive of each other, know a lot about each other and as a result work well together. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so close to people I work with in this part of the world and I’m quite pleased because It’s taught me the importance of cultivating such a supportive culture in a team. 

I can’t take credit for organising any of these things though – Craig, our delivery manager is great and team members organise. 

In addition to a great team, I also have a very supportive line manager who believes in me, gives me constant feedback and advocates for me in rooms I’m not in. I feel grateful.

What I experimented with

For a while now, I’ve been trying to spend 70% of my time on Accessibility and 30% of my time on publishing work. I’m not sure how well that has worked because I’ve not split my time properly between the 2. Now that work on publishing needs to move at a faster pace, I’m trying out a 50/50 split. 

To do this better, I’ve decided to have a clear split of when I spend time on both things – I am doing 2 full consecutive days each week in both areas. This makes it easier for me to compartmentalise my time, prioritise what I can focus on and be realistic about what I can get done. It also means each team knows when I am available. In reality, I am always available but having these boundaries help me focus and reduce constant context switching.

Working as the only product manager on 2 different products where both strategic and tactical product work is needed is quite hard but the time split has been effective so far.