Well, Hi there!
This is the first of (hopefully) many more weeknotes to come. What am I working on? My current “product” is related to the creation of digital-ready policies but more on that at a later date. Why weeknotes? It’s a great way to reflect, order thoughts, and also a way of working in the open (public money = public code style) - but just read about what Steve Messer has written about weeknotes and working in the open I can’t put it in better words. Furthermore I am super excited that I will enlarge the group of people that write them at the DigitalService as Martin already sets an amazing example here: http://verwaltungsgestaltung.de/notizen/.
Coming back after spending one week enjoying the swiss alps while riding my road bike, I played catch up in the first couple of workdays.
Before my vacation I already blocked focus time to do that - but that did not go as planned, as many of these blocks were resigned to collaborative work with our governmental counterparts. As a team we start to see the benefits of this, as we build:
- a shared understanding and vocabulary
- build acceptance for our human-centric based approach
- willingness to take part in interview and test sessions
On the other hand, we struggle with this approach, as it consumes precious focus time to deeply think through things.
Another interesting theme of the week: Design.
Designers are often described as the people that “make the thing look pretty” - especially in the public sector - but that’s only a tiny part of their expertise. This week I was lucky to see many other facets of this profession in action:
- An “aha” moment in a co-creation session with our project partner as a visualization focused our discussion tremendously.
- Was fascinated and inspired by an internal talk about an update of our DigitalService corporate design. Much thought goes into creating the rules of how to use logos, colors, and fonts so our visual appearance underlies (often, I guess subconsciously) with clarity our culture here at the DigitalService.
- Listened to Sabrina (Service Designer) at the Service Design Drinks as she explained some of our learnings in the context of digital-ready policy structured by a service landscape and also tested a digital-ready policy canvas with the crowd.
Being able to work closely with (service) designers, is inspiring and simply put, one of the things I appreciate the most about my job.
That’s why I felt especially lucky to share some thoughts about all of this in a talk to some Tech4Germany governmental project partners at their “halfway through the fellowship” meet-up this week.
On Wednesday our team took half a day “off” to work on the way we give each other feedback. Facilitated by a wonderful external coach we used methods inspired by the nonviolent communication framework - I especially liked that the session was super hands-on and we could try out different formats while already feedbacking and learning from one another.
With a lunch session by former Estonian CIO Siim Sikkut, a great but exhausting week slowly winded down. While his input would be worth a whole blog post alone, I want to share his 3 thoughts on “Getting things done in government”:
- Being relentless on delivery
- Deliver actual value for the people
- Build the better thing
- Lasting change (What happens if you leave) - think about it from day one
- Create a culture so your people don’t burn out
- 📝This. Feels good to allocate time to writing and reflecting.
- 🧢A role and responsibility workstream with our growing team - as I was the only full-time person on the util five weeks ago, we have quite some untangling and relocating of responsibilities to do. I am excited to create a more sustainable work set-up, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of responsibilities.
- ⌨️Using the Apple keyboard auto-replace feature to automatically get rid of some of the many governmental abbreviations I use in my written communication.
As pointed out by a colleague not using abbreviations helps create a more inclusive communication. The auto-replace feature is a win-win for this, neither does one lose time nor is the communication exclusive - neat! Thanks for the tip!
Left me with puzzles?
- This week was intense, mostly because I was returning from a vacation and much happened in my absence - but I need to figure out how to get my working hours back on a sustainable track. First thoughts:
- Ruthless prioritization framework for my tasks: Leverage Neutral Overhead
- So far we struggle with creating early buy-in with project counterparts in government about our style of focused, agenda-driven, timeboxed meetings or the “divide and conquer” tactics to create products. Aligning two different working cultures takes a lot of time and energy, we need to get better at this as a company!
- We use OKRs in our company for strategic alignment - but during reflecting on the ones from last quarter, we (as our “product” team) had to admit to ourselves that we did not pay too much attention to them. Luckily we are still on track, but moving forward we need to overthink our way of integrating them into our team operating model.