Hi! Long time, no weeknote.
I thought I was going to just skip a week but then the longer I didn’t write, the more motivation I needed to get back to it. This is an important lesson in getting back to a habit quickly because the longer your break is, the harder it is to gain your previous momentum again.
I’ll be trying out a new format where I’ll focus on one or two main things that I’m excited about, how I’ve felt this week and then other things that happened.
Leading for success programme launch
I mentioned in my last weeknote that I got into the GDS leadership programme called ‘Leading For Success”. It’s 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.
The first cohort has only 12 people so I feel grateful to be part of it. We had our launch call this week which introduced us to what the program will cover and what to expect. It’ll run over the next 7 Months and we are expected to commit at least 10 days worth of our time to the programme (apart from the project work at the end).
In the beginning, we’ll take some psychometric tests and collect 360 feedback which should help set clear goals for our time in the programme. I expect to learn a bit more about myself.
During the programme, there are several modules, prework and reflection related to those. There’s also peer coaching, one on one coaching from organisers, action learning groups and opportunities to work on projects to practice what we learn.
In the launch call, we also had some conversation about having a Learning mindset and how children approach learning. It’s all very exciting so I’m going into this with an open mind. I feel in my heart that this will be a significantly valuable experience for me. Yay for growth!
Accessible documents requests
We have to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people when they are needed, for example, by providing the information they need in another more accessible format like in Braille or Easy Read.
We know there are some issues with the current ways for making these requests. Our designer, Nikin and I have been looking at the current processes and we put together a kick off brief and had a kick off session with the team to make sure we all have a shared understanding of the problems.
We’ll need a user researcher to take this further so we can talk to users who often need to make these requests and departments who get a lot of these requests. In the meantime, we’ll be talking to Jim Smith at DWP who has been looking at the same problem space and has even done an experiment to improve the process.
I’m excited that we have started exploring this problem because it’s a problem that most departments have and a centralised and consistent solution will be great for users.
How I’ve felt this week
There were 2 feelings that dominated my week – Overwhelm and Gratitude
Most of this week, I had that dreaded feeling of being overwhelmed – having a lot to do but not quite enough time, feeling like you are not bringing your best because you are doing too many things, not having enough headspace to think and reflect. As a result, it made me anxious.
It’s why the first part of the article by Rebecca Pendleton on feeling overwhelmed resonated so much with me. I’m already quite ruthlessly postponing anything that can be done tomorrow but I also need to have a proper review of the things I’m doing, reprioritise and consider what I can let go of.
Another contribution to this feeling is the feeling of missing out I get because of all the brilliant articles (Product and work related) I’d like to read but simply can’t make the time and my list only gets longer and longer. I’ve decided to take the minimalist approach and I’ll only retain a subscription to 3 newsletters that focus on one thing, not the ones that collate links for you to read. That way, I have a limited list that comes to me and I can go look for any other information when I need it.
The second dominating feeling this week is gratitude
I had a conversation with another Product Manager about what inspires me as a PM. In one phrase – it’s the impact of my work. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done in GDS – on Digital Marketplace and GOV.UK, the sheer impact and scale of it. I feel very lucky to be doing interesting, challenging and meaningful work that has a significant impact on the lives of people.
I recently read How will you measure your life, and the authors talk about 2 factors that impact Job satisfaction or dissatisfaction: hygiene factors and motivating factors. Hygiene factors are associated with dissatisfaction and they are the things that if not done right will cause dissatisfaction (for example, compensation , job security, company policies), if hygiene factors are great, you won’t love your job, you just won’t hate it any more.
Motivating factors are associated with satisfaction and they are things that if you get, you’ll love your job, for example, interesting, meaningful and challenging work, recognition, responsibility and personal growth.
I feel grateful that I currently have those motivating factors, that feeling of accomplishment, of learning, of being a key player.
Other things that happened
- GOV.UK gave a presentation to the Department for Education about what GOV.UK does, our roadmap and strategy. I joined 8 other people on GOV.UK and represented Publishing.
- I sat in on the managing editors meeting where we talked about accessibility, the problems with PDFs and what our team can or cannot help with
- There’s been lots of feedback about HTML attachments and content formats on GOV.UK, this is a space that definitely needs work so I’ve started thinking and talking to a few people. I’ve not quite had enough headspace to make any noteworthy progress but I’m hoping to make some progress soon
- On the publishing team, we started trying to illustrate what one of the approaches to structure information might look like in practice. This will help us get a clearer picture of what needs to be different about the publishing workflow or our technical and content architecture. We’ve chosen to start with an approach that is significantly different from our current set up so it will give a good view of what needs to be different, which is our goal
- We’ve also been thinking about what a persistent team looking after a publishing service might look like and started conversations about this. This gives me so much hope because it’s signs of good things to come
- The accessibility team has continued working on consolidating accessibility resources and running a survey to understand how people find accessibility information so we can help benchmark current experiences
- I’ve been talking to different communities about how to embed accessibility practices in their processes and spoke with the content and product community this week