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Weeknote 39/2020

Tux sticker for Windows key on keyboard

It’s been a busy week, yet here I am at 05:30 on a Saturday morning writing my weeknote. Why? A combination of having a cold, an increasingly weak bladder, and things swirling around my head.


I shared in a previous weeknote that, although I’m at my desk in my home office between 08:00 and 16:00 every day, of a 37.5 hour working week, I’ve been getting paid for around 27.5 hours. This week, I knocked off early at 14:00 on Friday, reducing the total number of hours I was available for work to 35.5, and I got paid for 34.25 of them.

I’m sharing this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, any time you track numbers and try to make them go up, you can do so. Second, a few people have asked me recently about our co-op’s model for getting paid, so I thought I’d write a few words about it here. I will just add a disclaimer that it’s always a work in progress, and this might have changed by the time you read it if you’re not reading this in September 2020.

As, we are open, an overview of what I’m about to say is available on our wiki. Basically, from the day rate we charge clients, we take off 25% as a co-op ‘pot’ for a range of activities. This includes paying for:

  • General expenses (accountant, admin support, various platforms)
  • In-person meet-ups (remember those?!) and monthly co-op days
  • Business development at an agreed internal member rate
  • Internal projects (e.g. updating website) at an agreed internal member rate
  • Relevant stuff that members want to do (e.g. events, professional development, CoTech fund)

I mentioned this is always a work in progress, and we’re only just now (four years in!) agreeing a lightweight process for internal projects over £1k. In general, we generate processes in a ‘just in time’ rather than ‘just in case’ kind of way. Other than ones we’re legally required to have, of course, like safeguarding, privacy, and various fairness policies.

All of which is a round-about way of saying that one of the reasons I got paid for most of my hours this week was that I got paid at the agreed internal member rate for business development.


Another reason was that I spent a good deal of time setting up things for the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response project that I’m leading from our side. We kick off on Monday with an full-day session for a cohort of nine youth-focused charities and non-profits, teaching them how to do discovery work. This is an intense user-focused four week process where each organisation:

  • Identifies a problem to be solved
  • Performs some user research
  • Comes up with some potential solutions
  • Tests one or more solutions

There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, and the main thing is to try and prevent organisations jumping straight to ‘solutioneering’ (as I’d call it).

Mercifully, I’m not alone in doing this for our co-op, otherwise I’d collapse like a flan in a cupboard. There will be four members involved in this project, plus my lovely wife, Hannah, who will be joining in to help support organisations through the user research phase.


Other co-op work kicking off at the moment is some web strategy work for Greenpeace International, which I’m looking forward to getting involved with. Greenpeace is a network of organisations, with National and Regional Offices (NROs) ensuring that global campaigns are translated and contextualised for the areas they serve. They also run their own campaigns.

Some of this work will build on what we’ve been doing with the Greenpeace Planet 4 team over the last six months, and Laura has been doing with them for the last five years. It’s great to be involved in work like this that has the potential to make such an impact at scale.


I’m also continuing to be on loan to Outlandish, another CoTech co-op which contains absolutely lovely and talented people. I’ve been working on productisation with them, and developing the soon-to-be-renamed Sociocracy stream of work with them. I’ll have to go down to one day a week in October due to everything else that’s on, but I’m hoping to continue working with them into 2021.


On the home front, our son had a cold at the start of the week which, because he’s asthmatic, meant he had a cough. The upshot was that he had to have a COVID-19 test, which of course came back negative, but did mean that we all had to isolate for 24 hours until the results came back. It’s going to be a very disruptive school year for our two children, I think, but at least their schools are upping their remote learning game a bit.


Due to all of the above, I didn’t do as much writing as I would have liked, only managing to publish a short post here entitled Running with the wolves, and the following on Thought Shrapnel:

As a side note, my decision to only auto-post to Twitter a few months ago means I’m a lot calmer and less anxious than I would have been, I think, about the state of the world. I mention this because I logged in for the first time in a while to check something and realised just what a doomscrolling hell pit it’s devolved into in the past few years.

The advice I’ve been giving those wondering how to quit mainstream social networks is:

  1. Connect to the people you care about via other means (e.g. chat apps, email)
  2. Tell people you’re going to be quitting the platform at a particular date
  3. Delete the app off your phone
  4. Limit the time you spend on the social network and try to post as little as possible
  5. Deactivate your account

Once you’ve deactivated it, you may, after a period of reflection, do what I did and turn your account into broadcast-only mode. You can use services like IFTTT and Zapier to auto-post from pretty much anywhere.


This weekend, I’m going to focus on getting better. Specifically, although I feel rubbish when I don’t do any exercise, it also tends to delay my recovery from cold and flu symptoms. So I’m going to try and do as little as possible.

Next week, as I’ve mentioned, I’ll be working on Catalyst Discovery, Outlandish, and Greenpeace stuff. It’s good to be busy!

Finally, for those wondering, this post took almost exactly an hour to write, as it’s now coming up to 06:30. Time for me to go back to bed…


Photo of a Tux sticker (Linux mascot) that I bought to replace the Windows logo on my keyboard this week. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that bother you the most.

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