It’s been a while since I have tried or been in a position to keep a weeknote but with my renewed commitment and ability to work out loud it seemed as good a way as any to capture thoughts and track some progress.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to read further just know that this was an absolutely brilliant and invigorating start to 2024.

Keep a note of everything

Before I get in to the weeknote proper I wanted to be open that I’m keeping a far more detailed weekly tracker as part of my ways of working.

I can’t recall where the inspiration for this came from other than it was someone on LinkedIn (sorry) but given a golden opportunity as I started a new role I’ve made a recurring appointment with myself to spend the last 30 minutes of each working week reflecting and planning.

In this session I note down key actions, challenges, next steps, and where I need support against each work stream. I then look ahead to the next week, form the outline of a to do list, make sure any meetings I’ve identified are scheduled and generally get in a mindset of explicitly recognising progress and what I need to do my best in the next working week.

The notes are really useful to helping with this mindset but also act as a great memory nudge in 1:1s or other update meetings, and help to keep multiple plates spinning (mostly) successfully.

Longer term these notes can show just how much you’ve achieved and challenges faced and overcome. Sometimes you need that for yourself and your work wellbeing, and sometimes it has a more practical use when you come to and annual appraisal, updating a CV or going into turbulent employment periods.

Personally I am also finding it a great way to rebuild my professional confidence and let go of some fear accumulated about my abilities over the last couple of really unsettled years.

If you’re looking for a new work habit for 2024 then keeping a note of everything and making that time with yourself each week might be one for you to think about.

3 things about this week

Only half the working days this week than as usual for me but a lot packed in:

  1. Hybrid working is right for me, right now.

    A welcome surprise for me that I’m enjoying dropping into a physical office now and then and doing work in person with others.

    It’s lovely to feel the energy of a workshop and find myself in serendipitous conversations, but just as wonderful to know I’ll be able to decompress working from home the next day (introverted not anti-social all the way).

    I’m glad that I’ve been able to make adjustments for myself to make this not just possible but welcomed, and keen to keep supporting others around me to work in the ways that work best for them whether that’s in person or not.

    I’m also surprised and delighted that the place I found is most set up for hybrid working and seamlessly blending in-person and remote participants in sessions is local government. Which leads rather nicely to point 2…
  2. Hold space for people to be their best selves

    Serendipitously while writing this note I drifted over to LinkedIn and saw a post by Angela Cox, author of How To Be Kind To Introverts. She said: “The best leaders and the best teams hold space for people to be their best selves. They make it safe to be authentic and open.” The post goes on not just to note what best selves might look like, but to celebrate it.

    It resonated hugely and finding myself in teams and with leaders like this is something I’ll never take for granted or stop appreciating – it really does make an amazing difference individually and in the work that we do.

    There’s a lot to be said for knowing yourself well and therefore understanding and being able to communicate how you operate as your best self. It can (I know) be absolutely brutal to ask for what you need and be ignored, dismissed, or ridiculed but in the right team with the right leaders being given the space and support is transformational to how work can feel.
  3. You can’t change the past but you can try to influence the future.

    When things go wrong, or there’s bad surprises it’s natural to want to dig in to how it ended up that way. This is somewhat of an inbuilt bias as it’s rare to find the same drive or energy to interrogate successes for what went right and how we can replicate.

    Whether it’s from failure or success there’s a real skill in keeping enough distance to be objective so understanding is turned to learning, which becomes adjustment to (ideally) avoid a repeat in the future. A culture of accountability paired with commitment to continuous learning is needed for that skill to shine, and be picked up as the way to work by the many.

    And I think getting number 2 in this list right, really helps with developing the skills and culture I’m talking about in this point.

Connection conversations

When I first joined local government 20 years ago Nick Hill and Carl Haggerty were the first people I met from outside the organisation I was then at, Derbyshire County Council.

It was at an event Nick had put on in Sheffield and was a meeting which has led to many collaborative pieces of work for the sector, as well as brilliant friendships too. It was nicely cyclical that they were the people I spoke with this week as I set off on my 100 Conversations for the year.

And what amazing, inspiring and reflective conversations they were…

Nick Hill, founder Public Sector Digital Transformation Forum, and LocalGov Digital / LocalGovCamp

There’s always lots of laughs catching up with Nick and although it’s been years since we chatted it felt (for me) as if no time had passed at all.

Among the life catch up and laughter it was good to hear more about the last few years at LocalGov Digital and the LocalGovCamps Nick has been co-ordinating. There was even talk of some upcoming events…but more of that in due course I’m sure.

I’ve said in nearly all of my recent posts how keen I am to get back more involved with a network and generally in collabs across the sector and chatting with Nick just super-charged my excitement for that. I’m not sure LocalGov Digital is the right network, but I’m keen to explore that further (pleeeeaaassse can I be let back in to the Slack…?) and also reflect on the journey it’s had since it’s conception back in 2012 (or was it 2011…?) and particularly in the time I’ve been off doing side quests in different sectors.

You can find Nick Hill on LinkedIn.

Carl Haggerty, Devon County Council and co-founder LocalGov Digital

It was and absolute joy to reconnect with Carl and find the solidarity and spark of inspiration in our conversation was as bright as ever.

I think I’ll end up blogging separately about some of the things we reflected on but we of course talked about LocalGov Digital, and shared what we knew of the current activity and purpose of the network we founded.

We also talked about the pace of change, and the different energies from being on-the-edges agents to centralised resources, and the meta version of that in terms of informal networks becoming formalised and how influence and action differ in those states.

We talked more generally about networks and what we understand of our own needs and the benefits of networking. A couple of key challenges were surfacing for us – in a more connected world that we operated in even 10 years ago it still seems hard to find your tribe; and that the tribes you do find seem to be aging (no offence to anyone, after all aging is a priviledge).

I have always found conversations with Carl to be invigorating and thought-provoking, and filled with solidarity and kindness. I really hope we have more of them over the course of this year.

You can find Carl Haggerty on LinkedIn.

Let’s connect in 2024

I’m looking for conversations and opening my calendar for opportunities to connect across 2024.

I’ve added a few slots to my Calendly so if you’d like to have a short chat then please take a look. If you’re a vendor please check out the latest news on my employer before grabbing a slot – these conversations are not an opportunity to try and sell to me. And if you do work at the same organisation as I do reach out on Teams so we can say hello!

If none of the dates or times work for you then drop me a note via one of the ways on my get in touch page and let’s see what we can arrange.