Weeknotes S02E12 — Essex Life

Black and white photo of a Post-It with ‘Essex Life’ written in black marker
Black and white photo of a Post-It with ‘Essex Life’ written in black marker

Monday

I was off sick on Monday with some pulled neck and back muscles, which translated into a migraine. Sometimes I can keep migraines at bay if I act quickly enough when I start getting the ‘sparkly eyes’ but not this time…

Tuesday

I joined a great presentation on our Advice Content Strategy given by one of our Content Strategy Managers and one of our Legal Leads. It was great to hear about the work that’s been done to map our existing advice content and create a map around the wider advice landscape. We’ve got some brilliant dashboards now, which will be handed over to a new Data Scientist, and the teams will also be looking at areas such as gaps in our content, signposting and the current advice market.

We also said goodbye to our Lead Front End Developer Oliver. I’ve really enjoyed our fortnightly meetings, chatting about everything from line management and leading a discipline, to Communities of Practice and setting up multidisciplinary teams to succeed. Good luck with your next move Oliver!

Wednesday

Matt and I spoke about our resourcing (or workforce planning) process at a meeting with our Service Designers, User Researchers and Product Designers. You might have seen from Matt’s blog that we’re hiring a Portfolio Lead to join the delivery function (woo-hoo!) who will be working on lots of this stuff but we spoke about some of the history and context around how we’ve done resourcing to date.

I also talked people through a series of workshops I ran late last year to create a vision, supporting principles and five-stage process for us to follow in the future, and the Trello board, deck and visual designs which were produced as part of that.

A great idea which came up to support the new process is a ‘playbook’, so that whoever owns certain steps and stages is super clear about what needs to happen — almost like a ‘checklist’ for things like managing expectations and stakeholder relationships, how to ensure our people ‘end and start well’ in new teams, and ensuring there is clear and consistent communication with all involved parties throughout.

Thursday

Neil Vass (Digital Skills Practice Lead at Co-op) joined us for our monthly Community of Practice Delivery Lunch, talking about delivery/ agile consultancy, coaching methods and approaches, top tips and more! It was ace — I always love these lunches — and provided me with much (all together now…) ‘food for thought’.

I also joined a Demo & Outputs session run by our Casebook team (who look after our case management system) to showcase what they’ve been working on during a two-week experimental spike/hackathon. Thanks to Manish Lad (Tech Lead) for giving me the go-ahead to share a little more information about the focus of the hackathon!

The team’s goal was to address the following problem:

  • We currently do not have a common, simple and secure way for clients to provide us with their documents
  • Our advisers rely on a number of different, potentially insecure, or externally controlled systems, including email and WhatsApp, to receive personal documents from clients, and manually upload these into Casebook.

On the call, the team showed us how we can enable clients to directly send us their private documents via a secure and easy to use portal, which integrates into our existing systems and provides a seamless experience for both our clients and advisers.

There were loads of us there and it was a great chance to ask lots of questions. One element of what the team used during the hack was this consequence scanning Agile tool — really interesting! I’m hoping to invite Jake, who led on trying this out, to talk to our Community of Practice about how the team found it and see if it’s something we add to our Delivery Toolkit!

Friday

I had a quick intro meeting with Maz Hamilton this morning, our new Programme Director (Content, Strategy & Delivery). I’m already excited about what this new role will bring for our Expert Advice and Content Design teams and some of the ideas we spoke about.

I also enjoyed indulging in some personal nostalgia, based on the fact Maz worked for Archant early in their career. One of my first roles after graduating was as an (unpaid) writer for the Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire Life magazines! Oh those heady days of spending 8 hours writing about obscure villages with nothing more than a postbox and a derelict pub, then going straight into an evening shift waitressing at a pub until midnight, spilling roast dinners into people’s laps (and always taking home the least tips out of everyone — waitressing was not my forte!)

An old article about the village of Witham which I wrote for Essex Life magazine.
An old article about the village of Witham which I wrote for Essex Life magazine.

Launderettes, penknives, creative writing and other stuff…

Black and white photo of a penknife collection in a glass box
Black and white photo of a penknife collection in a glass box

This week I successfully made the tagine (which regular readers may remember exploded on me during my first attempt) and it was delicious!

In some bad news, the hoover fell on the display case for my penknives (wah!) and smashed it, so after clearing up yet MORE broken glass in the flat and rescuing the penknives from the shards, I’ve ordered a replacement. The image above is from a while ago — I actually have even more of the beauties now!

And in other Essex/ Hertfordshire related news, I’ve dropped the price on the flat this week, so fingers crossed we’ll get some interest soon and be able to start planning for our relocation to Bishops Stortford! (which straddles the Herts/ Essex border).

Delivery Lead at Citizens Advice. Ex-Stonewall and UCL digital person. I like launderettes, collecting penknives and doing my best to step up as an ally.