Open Thinkering


Weeknote 10/2022

For some reason, I suppose due to (post-?)pandemic malaise, I take far fewer photos than I used to. So few, in fact, that I sometimes struggle, as I am doing this week, to find one to illustrate and add a bit of interest to my weeknote. So instead, I will do without. My words will have to suffice.

This week has felt like a bit of a rollercoaster. But not one of those rollercoasters that make you go upside-down and loop-the-loop. Rather, a more gentle rollercoaster, one that might cause your hat to blow off in a downhill section and then perhaps the whole thing ends with a water splash.

A conversation this week confirmed something that I had been starting to realise as 2022 progresses. I guess you could say that the realisation was the ‘water splash’ referenced above, and constituted acknowledging that… client work is kinda boring. Whoah. There, I said it.

Let me immediately put a heavy caveat on this. Some work that we do through WAO, although technically paid for by a client, feels like a partnership. I’d definitely put our work with Participate in this category (which is best accessed through our new MVP website I’d also put the work that I’m doing through Dynamic Skillset with the Bonfire team on the Zappa project in the same category.

I guess this begs the question: what’s the difference between client work and partnership work? The answer, I think, comes in the way that both sides approach working together. Instead of one side having the money and power, dictating terms to the other, it’s a negotiation. There’s a shared vision, and a better world to work towards.

The conversation I alluded to earlier was with Cade Diehm, founder of The New Design Congress. The way that he explained they way that they’re working to have organisation partner with them on a roadmap that they’ve already agreed upon was so refreshing. Laura was also part of that conversation, so we’ve got some conversations to have. (One of them might be over dinner as we’ll meet IRL with our partners in Amsterdam next weekend for the first time in over two years!)

Hannah, my wife, was away in London this week for a couple of days for a meetup with her NHS Digital team mates. She’s recently been told that her contract is being renewed for another six months, which is great, but she hasn’t had the actual contract through yet. This is a little frustrating as a great house was put up for sale just around the corner from us this week. Although our current home isn’t on the market yet, it could be quite quickly — as it was for a few weeks just over a year ago. The area and price bracket we’re looking at for our next house is unbelievably specific, so to (probably) lose out on this one, is annoying.

There’s a chance that I’m a little bit more irritable than normal given that I haven’t slept very well this week. This is likely due to parental hyper-vigilance while Hannah was away, but also the start of hayfever season. For the last few years, I’ve become used to being on daily Loratadine from March to September. Weirdly, this corresponds with the time of the year when I have most energy, so I associate taking tiny hayfever tablets with productivity!

Another reason I didn’t sleep very well on Tuesday night was after I attended the second Tethix pilot fellowship session. It was pretty intense and, as it’s running between 20:00 and 23:00 local time, my brain was buzzing as I tried to get to sleep. Coupled with birds singing the dawn chorus from on top of the dormer window next to our bed in the loft conversion, and the whisky I drank while collaborating during the Tethix session, I was a little groggy on Wednesday morning…

The main thing that’s been on my mind this week has been preparations for going away to the Netherlands next week. I’ll be away for eight days which doesn’t sound like a lot until I point out that I’ll be in four different places during that time, and that I haven’t been on a work trip for almost exactly two years. I had logistical questions to figure out, not only in terms of travel between places in the Netherlands, but also in terms of entry requirements. Thankfully, it looks like I just need to do a Covid test in Newcastle airport.

I also had some sartorial questions to answer. I haven’t bought anything other than hoodies and jeans for the last couple of years, so I needed to think about things to wear for the four sessions I’m running. What does smart casual look like in 2022? Let’s hope what I’ve ended up buying arrives on time, looks like it did online, and goes together in a way that lets people assume that I’m dressed that way on purpose.

Some people might be amazed that I’ve got this far without mentioning Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Well, there’s literally nothing I can do about that, and getting micro-updates about the war isn’t good for my mental health. Instead, I have an ambient awareness of what’s going on, and also read my subscription to the print edition of The Guardian Weekly. I’ve also donated just over a quarter of my crypto directly to the Ukrainian government, which you can join me in doing by following the guidance in this article.

Next week, we’ve got a rearranged co-op half day, as one of our members was sick last week. Then I’ve got 2.5 more days of work at home, before heading to the Netherlands (and in particular Leeuwarden) on Thursday afternoon. I’m meeting Hannah in Amsterdam on Friday night, and we’re staying there until Monday.

I’m looking forward to my time away, but also I’ll be pleased when it’s all over and completed successfully. I’ll then be able to focus on my next trip, which is walking Hadrian’s Wall with Aaron. We finalised booking our accommodation, which is a mixture of camping and hostels, earlier this week. I’ll probably need to buy some more clothes for that trip, too!

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