Starting a four-day week thanks to the public holiday celebrating the unity of Germany was refreshing. These weeks always get me thinking about moving to a four-day work week full-time. I used the “free”-time to finish a small shelf-building project as well as by relaxing and enjoying nature on the road bike with a friend.
Recharged and full of energy I started into Tuesday, a day with a surprisingly empty calendar. I filled the time with some “leverage” tasks. First I finished listing all the achievements of the project team so far (a request by our governmental counterpart). That was a fun reflection task, leaving me with a small puzzle (check out the last section) and a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for how everything ties together. Besides that, I spend time iterating (by reformulating) different parts of our prototype. That was an ongoing task throughout the whole week. Looking forward to the seven testing sessions to see if our assumptions are correct.
Wednesday started with a long workshop together with an external consultancy that also works on the product. Due to several reasons our two work streams are not aligned, this workshop’s goal was to change that. To be honest, that failed - nevertheless, it helped all of us to understand the different directions and duties that come with them. Still left me puzzled about how we will move forward, especially with the immense time pressure we have on the product overall.
After four hours of collaborative working and the followed up debrief my energy level was down, and it was convenient that two colleagues of mine proposed to take a break from product-related work, enjoy the sun and reflect on meta challenges we face in our everyday work within the administration. Much appreciated and eye-opening exchange! We are always coming back to one topic, the vast stakeholder landscape we need to navigate in order to create what Steve Messer described as “Boring magic” - digital services that just solve the thing a citizen needs or must do. Looking at the different products we build as DigitalService this is a learning that each team so far has shared with the whole company. Still, every time we start a new project or new hire joins a team (that have previously not worked in the public administration context) we get overwhelmed by it (another puzzle).
What else happened this week? Thursday and Friday were mainly focused on presentations and stakeholder meetings (see the previous paragraph). It was exciting to see how our governmental counterpart and a colleague delivered a presentation that I had written the story. To my surprise it worked pretty well (far from perfect though!) - the talk sparked a great Q&A session with thoughtful questions, and that’s what I aimed for while writing. Another meeting with a very important stakeholder went in a different direction than anticipated (which in this case was highly positive). Instead of talking through the status of the prototype and the affiliated governance, the discussion evolved into a session on how it would be possible to enable this through the legal and processual setup of the German administration. Very, very interesting (and challenging…). Hope I will be able to share more about it soon. Besides that, we got some positive feedback from Ottowa Canada, as Christina our CEO briefly talked about our approach to digital-ready policy (once again I am fascinated and impressed by how precise she can pitch our approach, although she only has sporadic touchpoints with the whole team). More importantly though - more international contacts with people working on the same problem! Besides all this, I shuffled along the preparation of another co-creation session with stakeholders of different ministries that will be happening Monday.
- Inspired by the discussion about how to anchor down our “iterative” governance in the legal and processual setup of the German administration, the team is doubling down on the governance of our product - exciting!#
- This week I also had the chance to make a little bit of room for exchange and sparing with some Tech4Germany fellows - something that is super important to me, as it was the program that started my journey through the ups and downs of working with the German administration. Trying to give something back here.
Left me with puzzles?
- While writing the “list of achievements” I really got upset with the structure of our confluence page, it was a lot of sorting to bring everything in a somewhat chronological sequence. There must be a better way to do this…
- As already mentioned last time - our governmental context is complicated (this weeknote focused on the stakeholder aspect). I struggle especially with how to pass on learnings so that not everyone has to learn by making (the same) mistakes over, and over again…
- Part of our product needs to “check” if things were done previously (while somehow being inspiring to do these things at a way earlier point in the process…) - we always cycle back to the checklist format - although we feel like there needs to be a better way… Ideas? Hit me up!