Pen Portrait

Someone at work asked me to write a couple of paragraphs about myself, and I’m feeling very silly, so here’s my first draft:

Jonathan looks after the strategic side. He’s part venture capitalist, part market strategist, and part four of a three part trilogy about frogs. He works closely with everyone, trying to identify opportunities and threats arising from the continuously evolving landscape that is unique to government. He focuses on return on investment, value chains, market fit, and other meaningless collections of syllables best left to consultants. 

He has never yet been a consultant, but has previously served as the CTO to an international start-up, the Private Secretary to the Cabinet Office’s Chief Digital and Information Officer, and Assistant Head Bartender at the Copacabana lounge (Aberdeen). He used to write code for a living, having built components for GOV.UK and the Digital Marketplace, and now does it for fun, like a retired boxer headbutting cars. He is tragically knowledgeable about government, having been in or around it his entire professional life, and has a strong network of ex-colleagues, friends, and – dare I say it? – disreputable acquaintances, all of whom he can call upon to achieve the varied and nefarious aims of whichever team he’s currently in.

He is capable of translating between French and English, machine and human, and business to business. He is capable of leading ragtag teams against odds that are overwhelming, underwhelming, and beyond scary. He has been applying Wardley Mapping for about three years and is eager to share his knowledge, because he is both a raging socialist and bored of reading documents that are dressed up as strategies but are really a government edition of madlibs.

He is deeply sorry for the silliness of this portrait, and assures you that you will find him grave, serious, and industrious in real life.

S08E03: Let’s talk about death

Alright, so you remember how last week – shut up, time is weird in the pandemic – last week I talked about how my organisation’s hiring rules meant I might be moving soon? It happened. I’m moving. Specifically, I’m moving to a small arm’s length body of another department to write code. I’ve got enough time, just, to close off all the things I’m doing and write good handovers for the rest.

I’ve also just finished Bojack Horseman, and it’s weighing on my mind.

So. Death, and finding meaning. Let’s go.

Content warning: I’m going to talk about death and grief in a metaphorical way. If that’s not for you right now, give it a miss.

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S08E01: These are for me, actually

Okay, so last week I said I was going to take 8 weeks off to focus on the thing I was doing. I assumed this was because I would be too busy to write about what I was learning.

Then Sam – who is wise – pointed out that I’d written a good reflective thing last week and I realised that these are for me, actually. I love you, reader. I do. You give me the endorphins I crave. But that’s not why I write these: I write them so I have somewhere to come back to and reflect on what I’ve learned.

Anyway. Here comes season 8.

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S07E16: Rapid Response!

This week I was offered an opportunity that may seem deeply boring but I’m quite excited about: developing a business case at pace from scratch. Well, scratch-ish. From itch, maybe? Anyway, it’s a great way to end the season: an exciting cliffhanger, with your hero hunched over their laptop.

I’m not really hunched. I’ve actually got a really lovely setup. But it adds drama.

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S07E15: another good week

This week I applied to a speculative position to write speeches, which is both my dream job and the thing I fear most of all in the world. You can read my application at the end.

I also pushed harder than I’ve ever pushed before to fix (in my opinion) the biggest, most boring problem in my organisation. If you’re in my organisation, you know what it is. If you’re not, it’s the lack of cats.

Finally: I had another great week at work. I completed my first automation commission, and I’m waiting to see what the ‘client’ thinks about it. I had a couple of meetings where I actually felt confident I added value, which was an exciting novelty. And I iterated my objectives, improving them, and making it clearer to myself what my next steps are for my long term goals.

Really, an absolutely fantastic week. Well done everyone.

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S07E14: a reminder of why we do this

I had a great week, and it’s reminded me of why I do what I do. Thinking about the big picture stuff, and helping other people take a step back and think about it, is such an exciting way to spend my days. Plus, I had some genuinely interesting meetings and progress is happening in certain quarters. Basically, it’s been a great week, and it’s reminded me of why I do what I do.

Not that I can tell you what I do, of course, but let me reassure you that’s it fun.

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S07E12: What happens next is up to us

This week has been hard. Really, really hard. I went into the office twice. It was everything I hate about open-plan offices. I am autistic. I find overlapping conversations distracting, distressing. I do not like these things. I don’t know if they are necessary.

I am well suited to being Head Librarian, but I am starting to worry that I’m ill-suited to being senior enough to be in the room when it happens. The social model of disability is good for reminding me that it’s not my fault, but I’m not about to fight the battle of trying to stop conversations at work.

I also got turned down for another work thing, so I need to take a break from applying for things because all these rejections are really grinding me down.

I hope this post gets cheerier. Onwards!

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