Weeknote 16

Weeknote 16

Well that was a WEEK.

A week of really good - work. And a week of absolute shitness - Dilys has slipped a disc and has been in extreme pain and deteriorating symptoms. More in the pupdate below.

I’ve been to Newport more times than is possibly healthy. And another trip to London which was marred slightly by train nonsense.

My diary is groaning under the pressure of running multiple large pieces of work and taking on the delightful admin elements of being a senior partner. That saying of “be careful what you wish for” is very true.

These notes may be a bit high level this week due to extreme tiredness.

What I’ve been doing


Monday, I took a day out to recover from the weekend’s endless trips of the emergency out of hours vet and total lack of sleep. I also got beaten up by my physio again to try to deal with the sciatica that plagued me last week and the shoulder that still hasn’t healed from the January ice slip. Had acupuncture for the first time.

Tuesday morning was our town hall with lots of business updates and more on the recent internal changes that we’ve been going through.

The rest of the day was a series of catch ups with people with a bit of frantic work sandwiched in between. And a really good prioritisation session in the afternoon with the digital and policy teams. Things are becoming clearer in terms of what’s important and when things should happen.

Wednesday was also lots of bitty meetings throughout the day. Some admin related, some biz dev and a lot of checking in with folks. The highlight of the day though was the Planning Data team internal show and tell - amazing the volume of work the teams are managing to get through! So excited to get more into this space.

After another night of sub four hours sleep, I was up early and off to London to spend the morning with the one and only Paul Downey, Emma and Steve (with my partner in Planning Reform crime, Natalie). We spent the day talking through challenges - work, teams, etc. It felt like a really good grounding session for us to move forward together. Everyone is feeling really positive and excited. Now to get those next statements of work together....

I left London early and I’m so glad I did. Dilys has deteriorated badly during the day and was struggling to walk and to toilet. Back to Newport and the emergency vet. They gave her another jab of the good stuff and got an urgent referral in for us to Bristol Vet Specialists for 9am the next day.

Friday was a mix of an early morning dash down to Bristol. Meeting the amazing Jon, a neurosurgeon in the team, who was very reassuring, very clear at communicating with us; and mostly he listened to us and what we wanted for our dog. We left her behind for imaging.

Came home and managed some calls and catch ups before my brain dropped out of my head. Ended things early to get out for a walk and a change of scene. Will most likely try to crank through some of the backlog of work over the weekend. I wouldn’t normally, but I’ve got a few bits that really must be done by Monday.

What I’ve been thinking about

How much digital teams in government have lost the culture of moving at pace and working a bit quick and dirty to get value to users. We’ve lost WHY we worked this way. Something is missing.*

Disco/alpha/beta/live is a hindrance now. It’s a process. It’s stage gates. It’s waterfall all over again. It’s lost the spirit of why it was started. Everything feels bloaty and too big. Too polished.

Everyone is hung up on releasing perfection. I’ve got some things in my head I’m trying to work out about the role of service design and design perfectionism here. Don’t quite have the words, but keen to have some chats.

I think we need a return to a stronger product focus.

Teams are desperately struggling to move out of discovery/alpha and into continuous delivery of value.

*I am fully aware of the damage move fast and break things has had on the industry and on a lot of folks who worked in the early days of GDS. I’m not advocating for that. But something needs to shift from where we are now.

What I’ve been reading

Why am I still doing this to myself. I think for now, I’m going to retire this header.

What I’ve been watching

The last season of Discovery has started. It feels exactly like every other season of Discovery - an intergalactic treasure hunt.

I think it’s time has run out.

Gutted to hear Lower Decks has been cancelled. What is Paramount up to?!


Dogs do important work. They don’t get enough week note exposure.

This isn’t the pupdate I wanted to give this week. Not at all.

Dilys slipped a disc again. A different disc to the previous 2 discs. We’ve spent a fortune in vet bills.

We’ve been trying to treat this conservatively, again. With full rest. But last night when she could barely walk and was unaware she was pooing was the final straw.

She’s had an MRI today that confirmed how bad this new slip was and was taken directly to surgery to deal with that disc and remove the material that was compressing her spinal cord. And to fenestrate the surrounding discs - essentially opening little windows in other discs. It’s a preventative approach that is starting to gather some good evidence of it reducing recurrence.

She was out of surgery at 3 and able to take some tentative first steps at 5pm. She’ll be home for strict rest at some point this weekend. But recovery from surgery is faster than recovery via conservative treatment.

So relieved that the vet was as proactive in his approach as we were. And grateful beyond belief to our wire-haired dachshund community on Facebook (literally the only reason I’m on that hellsite anymore), many of whom have been through this themselves. I would strongly recommend that if you have a breed of dog that is prone to certain medical conditions, you find a community like this.

What’s blooming

Spring is sprung, despite the chill still hanging the Welsh air.

All the tulips. They are glorious.

The cherry tree of pink fluffy dreams is in full fluffy glory.

The lampreys have returned to the stream.

The willow is taking.

And the bluebells have started in the woods.