I really enjoy watching a message coalesce in an organisation. I didn’t know that until recently. I like seeing a thing come together that defines the company’s perspective for a while.
The Transformation programme was my first at GDS. Government as a Platform was a good one after that. Sprint 16 was fun for that too. The latest is Sarah’s talk for O’Reilly (yep, like all good talks there’s a version done as a blog post).
It’s the moment the threads of what IF is and how IF talks come together.
It’s also (probably) the sign that things are about to jiggle a bit.
At GDS, these moments would be the end of a journey. We’d have written it after playing with different versions of the messages in it for a few months. The talk would spell out the mission for the next year or so, and form the basis of the script for the senior team.
But for my lot (‘Creative’, basically) it’d also mark the moment we’d move on to different problems. We could, broadly, trust that people would stick to the script in the wild, quietly thinking about the next thing in the background.
I gave a version of Sarah’s talk at RightsCon earlier. It went well! I’ll do a version of it at the next event, and the event after that. And I’ll help the rest of the team use something like it at the events they attend over the next few months. Meanwhile, in the background, it’s time to think about the next one.
A good thing: Ann and the One Life Left/Marioke gang made a Charity Christmas single. It is silly and sweary and brilliant. It’s in support of Asylum Aid, work to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the UK from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. Watch it and donate to Asylum Aid.
Have a good Winterval.
I’m joining IF.
Earlier this year I left GDS to try out a bunch of different things. In the last month, my jobs at IF have touched on transparent organisation design, R&D for consumer advocacy groups, describing governance models for automated decision making, plus writing talks for new people. Later today I’ll be standing out in the cold with a prototype to learn about things I can’t see. Different things = ✓
As I’ve said before, the team’s great. I’ve already been snapped typing with my headphones on in the middle of a corridor (I think about four colleagues at GDS took that picture at different points) which is a very good sign.
I’m properly excited.
I spent a bit of the day watching parliament.tv for the oral evidence on the Digital Economy Bill. Exciting, right?
These things are (can be?) interesting. A completely alien format to most people, these committees are how law gets unpacked in the UK. And mostly they look like this…
…a bit like a court case.
I was mostly tuning in to watch Sarah from IF, but I dipped in and out of a few sessions, including one featuring Jeni Tennison from the ODI and my old boss Mike Bracken.
All of them made me feel differently stupid. There’s a lucidity to a clarity to their arguments that makes me think ‘Oh, man, that’s obvious. Why didn’t I see that?’
I forget, when I watch, that the things they tell the MPs on the panel are the results of chats and work and arguments and a bunch of reading. That there’s rigour in this stuff. That each of them are the eloquent endpoints of a stack of reckons.
(Then, after Sarah’s session, a little snippet of audio picked up by the mic…)
Recovering from a heavy cold and an excellent holiday. The northern lights are insane, and Iceland is full of lovely people.
Doesn’t Ste look creepy in that photo?
I joined IF part time last month and it’s been great. Three projects – two we’ll be talking about soon, one building on the work I did for them earlier this year – each very different and asking new things of me.
On top of that I wrote a speech and started work for two new clients. That’s probably about my limit as far as context-shifting goes (six chunks of my brain spinning roughly in tandem) and it’s been good to see that and not add another job to my plate.
Some of that’s about taking time out. Holidays, and little moments.
It’s nice being back by the river. I moved to London twelve years ago and spent every day walking back and forth across Waterloo Bridge, from halls to seminars or work, and it’s nice having the Thames in the rhythm of a day again.
(If I’ really thought about it, I’d have nabbed a screenshot, but…) I’ve just finished a quick session of No Man’s Sky, a game I’ve been playing a few hours a week since release. This last session involved finding a broken ship and repairing it, a knotty exercise in resource management and pointing a gun at stuff.
I had a pretty chill time, and by the end I’d sort of achieved something and sort of hadn’t. But the feeling I’m left with is not quite like being satisfied and not quite like being bored.
Using other feelings to try and triangulate the sensation doesn’t really get me anywhere. Like, it’s not ambivalence. It’s not irritation. It’s not delight. I don’t feel like I won or lost anything, and I haven’t come away with any residual sense of novelty or wonder.
At the same time, it is a little bit like feeling all of those things.
I don’t think I have a word for the feeling I’ve got, and that’s remarkable because it doesn’t happen very often. It’s happened a few times playing this game though, which makes me wonder if it’s something people who play things like Sunless Sea or Eve get used to. Those hours where the goal or mission gets suspended for a while, and you just exist somewhere that isn’t a place.
You know, not much to update. August has been relatively quiet. The few bits of speechwriting and talks I’ve been doing have gone slowly as people go on holiday or spend time with family. The same’s been true of most of the bits of copywriting and spec work. A lot of people warned me about that: August and Christmas can be the times where the income sags a bit.
That said, I’ve been setting up work for autumn. Two new clients, really different projects for each, and a regular arrangement with IF that’ll point me at new problems. I’m excited about that.
After last month’s griping I managed a few nights and days off, including an excellent couple of nights in Knepp. Late this month I’m heading out to Iceland for a week off. Feels good!