Weeknotes S01 E05

The one where I’m doing way too much

I’m going to try pulling out themes this time, rather than going day by day. Let’s see how it works out.

Jobs: I interviewed for the CTO position at work. The board organised a number of interviews, some of them with significantly more technically savvy people than me. I’ve got my fingers crossed; hopefully I’ll find out in the next couple of weeks. Time’s now running out, because on Friday I got high-level details of my next role in the service if I do stay. I’ve got to hand in my notice in the next two weeks — otherwise I’ll be letting down a department, and I just don’t think that’s fair.

My belief in fairness is what got me into the Civil Service, and it may turn out to be the thing that prevents me ever leaving. I can’t work out if that’s ironic or not.

I also refuse to spend any time arguing about it

Retro: The delivery manager for our dev team returned from a well earned vacation and was thrown immediately into a retro. We had a really good discussion and reflected on what had happened while he’s been away. A couple of important things fell through gaps that we hadn’t noticed he’d been plugging, so we discussed what we’d need to do to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. I talked about organisational change, because I bloody love organisational change, and we agreed a draft timetable for future sprints. The devs will spend more time researching and reflecting and less time actually coding, which I’m hopeful will result in less code being shipped with bugs in it.

Culture: Tied to my disruptive love of organisational change is my singular belief that people are really all that matters, and that people make culture. So I spent a solid afternoon making our culture more explicit, sticking things on walls, and turning our processes into visual aids to help new starters. And me. I love a map.

This is an inverted Gall-Peters projection map AND I LOVE IT

I’ve also written a job advert that reflects the new culture. All of this is incredibly presumptuous, because I may not actually have the job — but if I don’t, I’m hopeful that whoever comes in next will take it and run with it.

My culture obsession was further fed with a great training session on Friday. Although I felt terrible leaving the office, because it left my boss running the show solo, it did me good. The group and facilitator were great, and we all seemed to come together well: not too much talking over each other, space given to expand on ideas, and short detours into whether UBI means pure communism or capitalism, whether nuclear submarines are more complicated than the Department for Work and Pensions, and how we can make our culture more explicit, especially for people who (for example) get parachuted in for six months and then have to move on. I suggested people started writing a list. Like this one:

Making your culture explicit makes your employees more comfortable and you more accountable. SO JUST DO IT.


Intent-based leadership, which requires the team to have technical competence and organisational clarity. Oh, and absolute trust.

Ruby (The Hard Way) in part because it’s the language my company uses, but also because it looks like I’ll be learning Scala in January as part of my MSc. Scala is close enough to Ruby that I think Ruby will help in both work and study. If you want to learn to code get The Hard Way books — they’re free online and the minute I’ve got spare cash I’m throwing it at Zed, because I only know how to code because of him.

The Russian alphabet, ahead of my two-week immersive Russian course. I’ve also learned that when, as a civil servant, you say “I’m doing a Russian immersion course” people will immediately assure you’re a spy. To be clear: I’m not a spy, I’m just a terrible person who’s only just got round to learning his partner’s first language.

So until next week: До скорого !

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