It’s good to be back, having that week off has meant I have come back fully rested (enough as you possibly could be walking 30k each day in New York), but this also means the teams I work with have had to endure questions about everything, from things they’ve done to everything I’ve done.
Sometimes/always its good to take that time out to reevaluate everything done, especially as this project is one of the most important ones in the country (and incredibly.. topical).

Monday
The snow has arrived and totally broken my bus, meaning its a WFH day.
This gives me time to catch up and arrange (more) meetings to see how some-very-important-meetings went during my week off, I never fear anything with this team though!
A couple of heavy meetings today, running through priorities for this “period of work/year”, which is important in building direction and togetherness, sharing our issues and seeing if we can put them to the front of the queue to “fix”.
But first…. stand-ups.

Bobbin and Bumble update:
Emma is now working from a regular daily to-do list, which is helping her manage her workload and anxiety of having tons to do, she is attending and has a stall at MamaMeets in York, so there is a lot to get ready before then - designing, planning and sorting out the things I would forget (like how to take money from a card..) and finally.. update all the products!

Tuesday
Back, amongst the people physically after a week and a bit away. Loads has been done and done so well.
A catch up about a Workshop I missed last week, discussing the outcomes and review of the Service Map with the external partner and today is just meetings and catch-ups and supporting colleagues in 1:1s and performance review write-ups.

Reviewing the Service Map and some minor parts of the process after a week off has been interesting, a lot more questions (new ones) and challenges to feed back to the team - showing and reminding me of the power of having that time “out” to help work on the return.

1:1 meeting after a while, good to catch up.

Also, in the evening I wrote a blog post about “giving the power back”, it is something that I often remind people in the design industry and something I am quite passionate about.

Design is complex, but we’ve made design a mystery, where there is no mystery.

Give it a read and let me know your thoughts</a>

Wednesday
Wider Interaction meeting in the morning - working with differing locations means technology is stretched, but this morning we got lucky and it worked.
I presented, sharing an introduction into the “new” team I’ve joined, the purpose and goals of the team, my role, how I ran the co-design workshop and finally whats next.
I also asked a question about working together - content and interaction and how to make it an easier ride (was a general question, the content designer I work with is ace, a little mad but ace).

Speaking of content, I ran her through the process map and purpose of the team as shes newly joined (the team not DWP), and sold the dream, as expected and loved - she asked 105 questions and within 20 minutes provided vast value by just questioning things. Working in a safe environment works!

The latter part of the day - working on user needs, this is often something that can be misused as (business) assumption led and often “desire to understand”. Wish me luck!

Also, I was approached by a colleague to mentor them, which is great!

Thursday

First meeting with my new mentee - enjoyed getting to know her, she’s really interesting and motivated to learn as much as possible. This is where I asked one question and then listened, listened as much as possible to her sharing her journey, her wants and where she’d like to be in the future.

Shared my thoughts on the user needs, swaying the team away from thinking user requirements as the same as user needs, and there is a plan for a workshop for a “proper” session. I am also mentoring another person in the team, she will be leading the workshop, which I am incredibly excited to see how she will do (which will be incredible). We have discussed the goals, purpose and outputs required from the workshop, this will help the team hugely during the discovery phase, get us back on track and allow us to find “the truth” in all needs and requirements to shape and size against the current MVP process.

Also worth a mention was the design community meet up which happens weekly, hosted by the new Lead Content Designer - Sir Andy Long. I have long supported Andy, and I couldn’t be happier knowing he’s at the helm of content designers and I can see his skillset, influence and management skills a great fit for DWP.

It was a great meeting discussing accessibility with another great - Calei Smith, another one who got a well deserved promotion.
Loads of GOOD opinions, in a totally safe environment with all levels and differing job types representing.
More of this please, in fact, loads more of this, please.

Friday
Half day flexi - yessss!
First thing, helping out a colleague with a CSS fix - it was around moving one prototype to another, quickly. I have to stress this often to many who get stuck - a prototype is never production level (and if it is.. you aren’t doing it right), so I just bodged it to the highest level of a pure bodge. It worked the first time and I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the meeting.. nothing ever works first time! It’s really great that people come to me now, asking for help, support and advice - I feel incredibly valued and I also know I can provide help and support, but more importantly they know if I don’t know the answer I will go get it and don’t mind looking stupid finding it.

I also had a meeting with all Senior Designers within DWP, this is my first since joining (technology escapes me so much..), I loved this, knowing most of the people in the meeting meant I could crack the odd joke whilst updating the team on my progress, issues and get updates of their progress too.
Obviously, knowing this… I opened up with “all right fam”.

Good week, loads done, loads to chew over and LOADS of co-designing.

Good things
Returning back to find the team has upped themselves and really covered a lot of ground in a week and totally smashed it. It’s an interesting time, and it can also be incredibly testing on morale, but we seem to really support each other and that has to be more important than any output at the moment.
I know the workload will eventually be too much, but the feeling of working out of my comfort zone is really pushing me to learn more and it feels a good place for my career.

Learned things
As ever, taking that step back and looking from the outside makes things so much clearer.
Working with Emma means I can’t just say “oh you should do this” when I don’t have the bigger picture AND I’m not on the “shop floor”. This is a move which I’ve seen a lot and it is a terrible habit to get into and claim to be a hero.
Judging before having the full picture is something I need to learn, will learn and will keep reminding myself.

Difficulties
Finding my pace, the pace of the team always changes and I have struggled this week with jetlag, finding the latest update and also trying to pull the team back from running away with “progress”.
I think it’s important to review where we are, and where we are heading instead of going silo just to get things done. I did disagree with somethings that were done, and upon me explaining my views they did too - we quickly realised, and will now quickly fix with a workshop.

Achievements
Having a “cold” email from a colleague whom I have spoken to once before, asking if I could mentor her. Word of mouth and recommendations has led her to myself, which I’m incredibly proud of and I really do enjoy mentoring.
She has incredible potential, and I’m excited to help her to move forward in her career (if possible) and let her grow however she wishes.


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