Weeknote: The other side of the table

tobiogunsina Product management, weeknotes Leave a Comment

I spent a lot of this week doing interviews or interview related work. I’m helping with the recruitment of product managers for GOV.UK so I was on 2 interview panels for that. 

I was also part of the staff engagement exercise for the deputy director role for GOV.UK. They are to assess the candidate’s ability to engage with a wider audience and suitability for the role. It gives a good view of how SCS recruitment works and it was a good opportunity to contribute to shaping the future of GOV.UK.  

It got me thinking about how one of the best ways of getting better at interviews is probably being on the other side of the table and seeing exactly what works well and what doesn’t. 

I generally struggled with work this week because of the current situation of Nigeria which got worse during the week with several people being killed. Please check on your Nigerian colleagues.

Apart from the interviews, here are the other highlights of the week

What went well

One of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria is that pages on a website can be found in multiple ways. The intent is to make it possible for users to locate content in a manner that best meets their needs. Users may find one technique easier or more comprehensible to use than another. 

For example:  someone with a cognitive disability may prefer to browse a sitemap to locate content, whereas someone using magnification may prefer to use search instead of scroll through a lengthy navigation block.

During the GOV.UK audit, we found that some pages cannot be found in more than 1 way. I did some work on exploring the pages that were affected to find patterns that may mean other pages on GOV.UK are affected too. 

I found other ways to find some of them that the auditor didn’t know about, then spent some time with her providing context, asking questions about exemptions and checking that some ways to find things qualified as another way. Next steps will be to determine how to make sure those left can actually be found in another way. 

We had a check in with the management team, this happens once in a month to talk about achievements, challenges, next steps etc. It generally went okay. We are having a meeting with them next week to talk about the roadmap, decisions, recommendations and some of our needs. 

We had a meeting with people working on accessibility content across GDS to think about how we can make it easier for people across Government to find accessibility guidance. It was a good opportunity to introduce the idea of kickoffs as a way of creating alignment and making sure we are focusing on the right things. 

I also spent some time planning our next sprint where we’ll be focusing on doing some work to turn our roadmap into a backlog of work – we’ll be auditing our front end apps to find templates that are out of date or not using components when they should. We’ll also look at problems with confusing heading structures, prioritising some accessibility issues and get started thinking about how we might prevent some accessibility issues before they get published. 

I spent the rest of the time in lots of conversations either providing or getting context/advice or helping to move things along

  • I talked to the Product Lead for Equality & Inclusion for Test and Trace offering some advice on accessibility and language issues in the user journey. 
  • I met with a new Content strategist for GOV.UK to talk about her work and What we’ve been doing on publishing so far to provide context
  • I had a handover session with the former line manager of the person I’ll be line managing. 

What could have been better

I seem to always underestimate how much time is needed for things like interviews and block only the interview slot in my calendar but should definitely start blocking more time to read cv/cover letters before, to write up thoughts and do the wash up. 

In other news

We welcomed a new front end developer to our team so I spent some time with him talking about our work so far and explaining the roadmap. 

I met with ‘my PM circle’ and we talked about the challenges of learning and development as a product manager which definitely has me thinking about how to be more deliberate about it. 

I’m currently reading and loving ‘So good they can’t ignore you’ by Cal Newport 

It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence

– Cal Newport