Chris Witham

Weeknotes s01e07

Posted by: Chris Witham - Posted on:

TL:DR; When things don’t work, it’s really frustrating, but there is huge potential to improve.

[week ending: 19/02/2021]

The good

Back to work this week after my concussion. Feeling much better but taking things carefully. I’ve been a bit more selective about which projects I worked on this week and particularly focussed on managing energy not time. As a result, I’ve felt really energised throughout the week and I’m finishing the week quite pleased with what I managed to achieve.

I’ve had several conversations with Marcin and Tony in my dev team this week, doing some problem solving and kicking off some work on a new service we’re going to be building over the next few weeks. It’s really enjoyable to get into the code again and solve development problems not paperwork problems. We explored the Gov Notify service as I’ve really been enjoying using it on my Covid deployment and I think it’s got some useful design patterns for the admin interface that we can reuse. I also discovered that Ishani in my team has previously worked on the Notify API, yey for common components!

Off the back of the work with Notify and some recent conference attendances, I met with two of our NEDs this week to share our thoughts about events we’d been to. This really got me thinking and I’ve written a blog about some ideas for open standards in patient communication. Hopefully it’s another good discussion starter and I can find some like minded people that we could maybe take this idea forwards with in an open source solution.

The sun peeks through a cloudy sky above a mist filled River Severn valley.
I only made it out once this week. Less than 4 miles walked. My walking buddy was on leave, usual service resumes next week hopefully.

The bad

My walking buddy has been on leave this week and I conned myself into taking it easy on my return to work. So I only got out before work one day this week. Still something to improve next week.

There seems to be so many exciting things to work on at the moment. Lots of new publications to read and people to talk to. There’s just a lack of time. Some planning and prioritising needed. It’s a great place to be though.

The ugly

I had to connect into some work by a government department this week and I was trying to ensure we made it really clear that this was a new service and people would be choosing to sign up under a different privacy policy than they had been engaging with us on. I think we did well in the end, but it was rather frustrating that, although willing, the department were unable to make the requested amendments to the process as they were using a third party forms system and the contract didn’t allow for any more than 3 amendments to be made. This seems like a really bad way to be writing govenrment contracts and really bad behaviour from suppliers.

It also didn’t help that after the brilliant layout of the GOV.UK start page, the user journey decended into said form system that didn’t make use of the Gov Design System. It was a terrible experience.

It did however lead to a good conversation with Kevin. I think there’s definitely a huge opportunity to have an open source solution across Gov and the NHS for this kind of thing. After some discussions on the UK Government Digital Slack it was great to discover there is some work happening in the open around this already.

Notable conversations

  • I met Rox for the first time this week. She joins our digital team as Learning Content Production Manager. We had a great chat about the work we’ve done over the last 8 years and where we’re heading in the next 12 months. Rox brings a great energy and lots of great ideas to our team and I’m really looking forward to working together. To help Rox understand the different parts of our team, I came up with a transport related analogy. I’m planning to write it up as a blog post as it seems like a helpful way to explain what we do.
  • I had a few conversations with colleagues where we had a planned topic and agenda, but just spent some time actually connecting as human beings and genuinely enquiring how each of us was doing. How we’re experiencing lockdown and how we can support one another. It’s easy to get caught up in rigid days of packed Teams calls. But we need a to remember we’re all human and look after one another.

Things I’m reading and watching

  • I miss my barTom flagged this background noise generator to us this week. Bring your own Spotify platlist and pretend you’re in the local. I usually listen to Brain.fm during the day, but a change of (audio) scenary was quite welcome.
  • Greyhound – Classic Tom Hanks. A harrowing story that keeps you on edge. Well made and engaging.
  • How we hosted FOSDEM 2021 on Matrix – a huge undertaking but a great outcome. Some really interesting insight for anyone who is looking to run huge online events that allow loads of interactivity.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *