Week notes: 1-12 November 2023

Nothing doesn’t go in here, imposter syndrome, choosing to work in pre-internet organisations.

Hello, you.

I’m writing this from a proper greasy spoon in Selhurst while Joel does his weekly film class at The BRIT School.

The coffee is instant and cheap, but I like it. They were surprised I didn’t want sugar, let alone that I got a laptop out.

Blog introspection 

This blogging lark seems to be going alright. It’s validating to get nice mentions here and there. I’ve furtively told a few colleagues. Paradoxical to put things on the open web but be all shy about telling people in real life. But as one colleague said “it’s quite soul-bearing”.

It’s doing me good I reckon. I’m more conscious and connected – meeting the needs I had for it. Thanks again to Dave (and others) for the nudge. 

After two bumper month notes I’m switching to week-ish notes. Or variable-timespan notes, there are no rules! Plus article and scrapbook posts in between. I like that old Merlin Mann line on keeping messy, multi-purpose notebooks: “nothing doesn’t go in here”.

My week

It started with a bang, with some indoor fireworks. A family tradition – they’re amusingly lame.

I was croaky and under the weather this week, which contributed to some low mood. That and the GDS nostalgia trip had me feeling a bit wobbly at the start of the week about my fit and effectiveness at the BFI. 

But by the end of the week I realised it was just illness plus your classic imposter syndrome bullshit we all deal with, and I’m now back to full health, feeling like I belong, and super-motivated again. 

Things that shook me out of my funk and helped me reconnect included: 

  • Giving the BFI welcome speech to a bunch of new starters
  • Spending a day in the office 
  • Seeing a classic film in NFT1 – always good for the soul
  • A chat with a supportive confidante
  • Seeing some exciting green shoots emerge: pitch decks from shortlisted UX agencies vying to iterate BFI Player’s website; some pin-sharp clarity on our digital roadmap; and plans for a momentous design sprint.
  • This opening salvo from Public Digital’s new BlueSky account:

“Our founding belief is that the technology changes of the last 30 years – including the internet, smartphones, and AI – have so radically changed people’s lives that organisations have to continuously adapt to meet ever-rising expectations.

Organisations founded long before the internet was created often face the greatest cultural and business challenges in redesigning themselves around this new reality.” 

Public Digital

🤦 Those being the very organisations where I do my work! It helped remind me how much I love that mission and challenge, and choose it over working in a Spotify, Google or Deliveroo. And why it can be a lot

It also helped to get a little reminder how hostile an environment Croydon was to do that work! The reminder came thanks (but seriously – no thanks) to The Cronx’s local blogger, who sullied my lovely, brilliant friend Opama’s reputation (and mine a bit) with yet more of his wrong-end-of-the-stick, nasty shitposting. Local government – especially when in recovery from a section 114 – is challenging enough without some wannabe Guido Fawkes character repeatedly misrepresenting all your hard, heartfelt work for clicks or to plant the occasional story into his beloved Private Eye.

There was more GDS nostalgia on Thursday with my visit to Reddit in the former GDS building in Holborn. I shared some pics on my Instagram, passing on the nostalgia to ex-GDS friends.

That Holborn WeWork has a fab coffee bar staffed by Deaf baristas, a great initiative in partnership with I Love Coffee. An iPad screen teaches folks in the queue how to order in BSL. (Something about BSL really warms the cockles – I occasionally flirt with the idea of learning it. Maybe one day, in my dotage).

Unexpectedly, my wonderful ex-GDS bestie Jen Allum also popped up online with this rare glimpse of the inner workings at Alphabet’s moonshot factory, where she now works – and it was just so lovely to see her and be reminded of her remarkable, improvising brain.

Dylan finished his GCSE mocks this week, and we toured another sixth form. 

I ate a Pret Boxing Day toastie, a Sainsbury’s Christmas pudding for one, and a mince pie – let the Christmas food commence!

I also joined a gym.

Inspiring bits and bobs

Let’s all go and work in Sweden – or better still, copy them.

3 nice metaphors for innovation/discovery/agile (including Jen’s interview) which I grouped together here 

“Changing how we change” by Public Digital is an instant classic. Further posts to follow on putting it into practice in your operating model – fantastic!

A reminder that Audree wrote this other belter on organisational self-sabotage.

Can see myself sending lots of people Sarah Drummond’s page on “full stack service design” to show the layers that make or break user experience. 

One page, one hour – I do this by default I reckon.

20 traits of stellar leadership teams – oops, I think I do antipatterns 2 and 6 of this by default too.

Maintain, Fix, Equip, Create or Involve. Eddie has written several versions of this post now and they’re all worth your time.

Emily Webber is amazing, as is her newest site: Communities of Practice

Reading, listening, watching, playing

Can recommend Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything, coming to cinemas later this month. The title made me giggle (EVERYTHING!)

How to Have Sex is jolly good (and reminded me of extreme TV of yore).

Rewatched (and loved) Sicario, and Animal Kingdom. Jacki Weaver is brilliantly terrifying as the matriarch of a family gang falling apart as Guy Pearce’s corrupt police team closes in.

Black Narcissus on nitrate. The cinema technicians in my bit of the BFI did brilliant work last year to update skills, safety protocols and fire-suppression kit to be able to show nitrate prints as part of the Film on Film Festival. This is the first time I’ve managed to see one. Or anything in the current Powell and Pressburger season. Magical. 

Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance on BFI Player. Grisly! Problematic twist, but I’ll take that over boring any day of the week.

NYAD, The Eternal Daughter and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. They weren’t for me, but see them and make your own mind up. 

Listening on heavy rotation to Nautilus by Anna Meredith and On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter. Also this: Camo & Krooked & Mefjus (DJ Set), Live From A Boat

Played the final wave of new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC courses, got thrashed by Dylan as usual. 

Still reading Big Beacon. Still trying not to write like it. 

And finally

I’m just happy they didn’t say Directgov [BlueSky]

Villains falling to their deaths [YouTube]

Pies in a bowl [TikTok]

Thanks for reading all this, you are lovely. I’ll try to make them shorter.


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