Weeknotes S01E02: happy Friday, everyone

Six weeks in, and I feel like I’m moving from:

say yes to everything, because everything is a chance to learn

and more into

think carefully about what I get involved in and spend my time on

It feels like a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure it was Monday week that I spoke to some people working in other local authorities (Greenwich and Durham) about the work they’re doing on their Intranets. We’ve done a little bit more discovery work than they have, but I still learned a lot, and it was interesting to see how. And it made me realise (again) how much I value being able to talk to other people working in local government.

We won’t kick off an alpha for the Intranet for a few months. But everyone in the organisation needs to know about how we’re going to work in a world where we don’t have to do all of our work in the office, and they need to know soon. That information needs to live somewhere.

We don’t have a new Intranet where that can sit, and the old Intranet isn’t a great answer either, because of the problems we found out about. Other people in the team are thinking about this too, and whether we can do something quickly that still gives us learning in the long run.

Notes on a whiteboard, with user needs for the intranet: “I need to find job-related resources & information so that I can do my job without asking others for help” etc. If you want full alt text for this image, please email me at keelan.faddenhopper@essex.gov.uk.
Notes on a whiteboard, with user needs for the intranet: “I need to find job-related resources & information so that I can do my job without asking others for help” etc. If you want full alt text for this image, please email me at keelan.faddenhopper@essex.gov.uk.
Scribbling on a whiteboard helps

Linked with this shorter-term demand, I had a chat with a couple of companies that offer off-the-shelf Intranet products. We’re still not sure if we should buy a product or build something ourselves from the ground up, but these things might help us in the short term. These conversations reminded me of things I’ve thought about in the past, but they’re still not easy questions to answer. How much control do we need to have? How well do our users’ needs align with those in other organisations, given the other tools that they use?

Whenever I have these conversations, I also worry about focusing on solutions too early. So I went back and reread some of the notes from discovery about what our users’ needs are, and wrote some of them on my whiteboard. I like writing things down, because it helps me understand things better, even if I do wipe it off again. This helped me ask the right questions and I got a lot more out of the sessions with the companies because of it.

  • Am I doing the right things?
  • Am I any good at this?
  • When we work well, we can do some really good stuff
  • I am happy doing what I’m doing
  • I’m glad it’s Friday because I need a rest

Lots of other stuff happened this week. I worked with Ed on mapping some stakeholders. I spent a while delving through different local authorities’ eligibility criteria for the Energy Companies’ Obligation (wow, this stuff is complicated!). I attended another local authority’s event engaging with families of people with special educational needs and disabilities (and learned a lot, but wow, this stuff is complicated!). And I had some good conversations with people about how best to work together and organise what we do (no surprise, complicated too).

A good thing about being new(ish) is that you can spot jargon easily.