Weeknotes SE02E07, 08, 09
Bumper issue this week folks! Apologies. It was a short week this week and last, and yes, I missed the week before…as much as writing these notes is a critical part of my own practice , for improving and working out where things go wrong, sometimes you need to pare down your life to the barest of bones.
To the people who noticed, and get how important this little weekly thing is to me, and therefore worried about me, I’m sorry for worrying you!
Moving house after just over 4 years to a smaller house, and there’s a lot of accumulated and inherited stuff — so many precious things and collections on the part of the kids, and well, a lotta stuff I didn’t really want to deal with from me :) No time like the present! The movers come in the morning, and I’m typing in a mostly empty house, devoid of everything except comfy furniture and the internet, so…
What did you do?
These past three weeks were all about the environment, scope, people and organisational context — I work across two teams — one is called ‘enabling services’ and the other ‘capability’, and so you can see in both of those teams, my focus is going to be on getting the environment right — meeting people not yet doing user research or human centred design, or just starting, and wanting to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together, how research operations can help. There was a lot of this kind of work the past few weeks as the demand for user research and human centred design grows.
Over the years, I’ve come to a habit of writing out as much as I can about my thinking. It can feel a little ‘waterfall’ to write out exactly the scope of a thing, what you’re aiming for, what your strategy is to get you there, what the thing you’re doing is for, who it is for. What your reckons and assumptions are, what you know already, what you’ve learned — especially when you are using the Service Design Delivery Process. But I’ve found the act of having to communicate a thing forces you to interrogate your thinking and for someone like me with a lot of thoughts, that’s a valuable thing to do indeed. The most common queries I get about what my work is, come back to scope, so having an articulate and clear answer helps us have the conversation, and then move on. So I sat down and just wrote last week for a little bit. It ended up being very long, but hey, I answered my own questions. Now I’m ready to go find everyone else’s.
On top of that, in the Capability team (Mariam, Adrian, Anuj, Finn, Gabby, Julian we’ve been working on our handbooks for our disciplines. For me that’s research + ops, ably assisted by the amazing Bill Makin. Mostly, it’s been an absolute delight to get to hang out with so many talented and passionate people turning our work this way and that, like building a 3D puzzle of how all of our disciplines come together, and how do we best get people to what they need in the simplest way possible.
This week, Alzbeta from our new end to end service team and I got together to noodle on research-as-a-team-sport — how we best support people completely new to the craft, and also, how a loose conceptual framework can help. Looking forward to workshopping that with her, and also Chris in the coming week or two.
I’ve been on a bit of a discovery the past month or so with various people from across the department on how we measure success in a human centred way. Not much to report for this particular pillar of the 8 pillars (that these weeknotes are shaped around), except that as I was having my writing spree (in scope, above), I decided to follow that up with writing everything we’d learned about measuring success and the sorts of measures others use. Again, writing it all out helped immensely with communicating the why, what, who, where and when. I think of short papers like these as an enabler of deeper conversations and decision making.
This week, the Research and Design guild added a few new faces, yay! I saw some of the chat through the week was on the democratisation of service design, as Bruce shared an article he saw by the NHS, It takes a village to design a service. I forgot to reply at the time, but just did (sorry Bruce!) and shared some things I’ve read from the research end of town. Behzod Sirjani wrote a brilliant article last year that I often share, Democratisation is our job, and there’s another brilliant read from Saswati Saha Mitra, on Undemocratising User Research. Both compelling, reads. My answer — it depends. Finn keeps prodding me to get off my fence on this, but I’m finding it really hard.
I shared with Bill some ideas on career paths for ReOps — and yes, I love that there are career paths, and they are so incredibly diverse!
Recruitment and admin
Not much to report on this pillar — most teams are in planning, or have their participants all lined up. It is about to explode again however, but this time, we’ve got a pathway, and that seems to be a healthy place to be.
Data and knowledge management
In amongst my scope work for the past week or so, I’ve been doing some work on a maturity model for this part of Ops. We know what good looks like but what are the stages, how long will it take to get there, and what do we need?
Governance is on my sprint goals this sprint, but not much to report, while all the rest has been going on!
Tools and infrastructure
The lovely and amazing NSW design system pals really helped us out last week, with our equally lovely (omgawd honestly, the people I work with) Adrian Yee doing testing with them looking at the differing features, benefits and constraints of (insert design tool here) subscriptions. The tools we use as designers and researchers often have a subscription, and each level comes with its pros and cons. We want to work in the open and transparently, but we also have to make sure we are adhering to government administrative requirements. There’s a lot to know! Above all, we’re mindful that we want our team to work as they need, when they need it, but the decisions we make now have a long term impact on the department, so we want to do it right.
What are you thinking about?
Today, I had two separate conversations with absolutely lovely, intelligent and knowledgeable team mates about imposter syndrome. I didn’t mention it at the time, so I’m adding it here, just in case either of these people read my weeknotes (they said they do!) that imposter syndrome isn’t a real thing. We are taught that ‘good’ looks, behaves and sounds a certain way, and if there is a way to be, then there is a way we shouldn’t be. The consequences of being how we ‘shouldn’t’ in a group can be severe. No wonder we shy away from being on stage, presenting a talk, writing a blog! The question, if we are privileged enough to be able to ask it (i.e. the risks are not too severe), is who said this was what good looks like? And should it look like that? here’s a very good article about that for women, written by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey.
One of those people asked me about weeknotes, and said they couldn’t stand for people to think they thought they were an ‘expert’, and they wouldn’t be comfortable writing one until they felt they knew all they had to know. I said, I hope you don’t think I think I know everything! Quite the contrary, I a) assume no one is reading (turns out they do!), and b) use it to figure out what I think about something. It is a reflexive practice for me. I believe in continuous improvement — in all things I guess, but especially in our brains and spirits, and how we see the world. I think we’re all on a journey of continuous improvement — I see you building your Cirrus SR22 and flying it too, and I’m over here, waving from my half built Voyager saying, ‘oh hey, I figured out, if I turn the knob a little to the right, it makes the plane go to the right, just in case that helps!’…not an expert, just figuring it out, just like I think we all are. If my discoveries and thoughts help anyone doing this work, or something else, then that’s good. If I’m just here by myself, figuring it out, that’s fine too.
In another, hopefully convincing note, I’ll say the ways in which you help can be not obvious to you. The other day someone told me when I wrote this: ‘we exist for and with each other’, it got her through a hard day at work. That’s good enough for me to keep writing, expert or no.
If you know me, you’ll know I love living in Tasmania. I’m immensely proud of the amazing things Tasmanians do, and I feel so very grateful to get to live in lutruwita, on lands of the palawa nation. The Tasmanian government released this beautiful website about being Tasmanian, and sharing our stories. It seems like a good way to start the weekend, and who knows, sometime soon, you can all come visit. For now, enjoy.