Weeknotes No.20 - the 2019 review
It’s been a while since I last wrote, I used Purdah as a chance to recharge my batteries, read over my past notes and see where I was, where I am and where I wish to go and do a 2019 review.
It’s been a wild year, (spoiler alert) over the year my daughter turned 4, my wife upped her business to another level, we had an election and I changed jobs and the big one - I GOT A NEW KITCHEN!
At the start of 2019, I started to feel a little lost in my career - feeling “itchy feet” is a strange feeling when you are happy and content, but I felt I wanted to offer more and do more, more than I was currently offering.
Personally, I felt I was not giving 100% to the job, which I had done so much for, I had run at the job at 100mph giving 100% and really wanted to make a change to the design culture there, learning as much as possible from an incredible manager and sharing even more, looking back at my time at Sky Bet, I did achieved this and would not change a thing, and I feel really proud of my time there, the output of work by the team led to a lot of accolades (getting to number 1 in the App downloads for Sky Sports Super 6 game, gaining more players for Sky Sports Fantasy Football and working on relationships with stakeholders are things I am really proud of).
As a note - anyone who is thinking of joining and working at Sky Bet, I recommend the experience and can confirm you will learn so much there and the people are really top notch.
In May, I decided to leave Sky Bet to move to a place I was very familiar with - DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), citing a change of career direction and to really push my skillset to the limit. I knew the potential of someone like myself working there, and felt if I take everything from Sky Bet to here I could really make a change.
If you follow my weeknotes, you’ll know I found the change of culture and work very tough to dive into, it is a total change of pace - whereas at Sky Bet you work fast and change things at speed, at DWP you need to plan, you need to research, and you need to talk to a much bigger audience (be them stakeholders or users). THIS is the challenge I have always wanted, I want to manage workloads, I want to influence people, I want to present in front of a room that is full of the most intelligent heads in the industry.
During this time, I have also changed how I design - I care a lot less about the aesthetic and more about content, the why and how someone will use the page (not in this order). I care about the research (I always have), I care about the cost, and I care about the end user and the end result and more importantly - I care about the service we are putting out, is it the right service?, can it be better?, should we be doing the service? and 1005 other questions, which I am more than happy to voice and challenge with the knowledge that this is a safe approach and the teams I work in not only expect this of me, they welcome it.
Bobbin and Bumble launch:
This year my wife Emma proudly re-launched her company with new branding and a new name. Gone is xMimiMakes and welcome Bobbin and Bumble, this turned out to be more work than we expected due to relaunching the Instagram account (starting from 0), updating and making new sales points (Etsy and a website), and finding manufacturers that would do what Emma needed them to do, and when she needed them to do it.
This was also alongside teaching Emma how to use design software, which was actually really easy as she has the ability to just “keep going” on her own and working it out herself.
Watching my daughter grow up into a strong independent person who has her own ideas, sayings and jokes whilst being so eager to learn and listen has been a journey I was not expecting, but one I’ve enjoyed a lot - she has reminded me to be more open about being creative (reading books in silly voices or emphasising certain words actually helped me do more public speaking for example), and obviously she had made my life a hell of a lot more fun!
2019 brought on our first parent’s evening - which she did so well on and was labelled a “role-model” to the younger children coming in as she takes care of them, she did her first play (she was a donkey!), she rode her first bike, she reminded me how much she hates football, she still doesn’t know what I do for a job (but neither does her mother), and her favourite film of 2019 was “Peter Rabbit AND it was the first year she knew properly what Christmas is, and got overly excited on Christmas eve (demanding she goes to sleep as soon as possible before Santa finds her awake).
What’s in store for 2020?
The past 6 months, I have felt very different about my career - my duties changed and the ways of working changed.
Whereas before, it more user-conversion led and quite an one-directional approach (idea-research-design-launch-next), I am now working in a more “Service Design” role and leaving the side of design that I fell out of love with and this new role feels a good fit.
I want to talk more, share more and work with a lot of differing roles to spread ways-of-working efficiently and effectively - using past techniques that have worked, I also want to know what can we, designers do better to help make relationships and working a lot easier and smoother for all.
I want to empower designers to make decisions, hard decisions and call out things when they are wrong.
I want to feel valued, I want design to feel valued and I want people to know enough about design as they can do without feeling overwhelmed or undervalued themselves.
Can I do this in a year? Maybe, maybe not - but what better place to do it that here, with the support of many I am going to give it a good go.
On a personal level, the election was a tricky time - due to the services I am currently working on I got to see some of the people directly affected by past and current voting, which in turn did affect me in a way I didn’t expect, but I do believe those that are working on these services are the best and as a team, we will do a great job - it might be a struggle, we might lose people on the way but we will succeed and we will make a great difference to a lot of people.
So, all in all an interesting year compared to 2018 – I’ve learned and changed a lot, seen my family grow and seen a lot.
I hope you enjoyed your 2019, and if not – let’s make 2020 the best one, however sometimes tough that might be.
Also, 2020 I want to get back into giving back, so please feel free to get in touch, I have a successful past in mentoring many different people, all at differing stages of their career - be it a total fresh start to wanting advice on becoming more senior.
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