Open Thinkering


Weeknote 28/2023

Leaf with water droplets

I’m lying on the sofa writing this absolutely stuffed after Sunday dinner at The Dirty Bottles in Alnwick. On TV is the men’s Wimbledon tennis final which is still in the balance. My son and I went swimming this morning and helped a neighbour lay their patio. We’ve also had a couple of house viewings.

Yesterday, thunder and lightning swept over the North East of England. It affected my wife, Hannah, who was doing a 26-mile MacMillan Mighty Hike with friends, as well as my daughter’s football tournament. Her first match was abandoned, yet the team still went on to reach the semi-final. She scored a screamer in the top-right corner of the net, but it wasn’t enough to prevent them losing 2-1.

It’s been a funny old week, work-wise. Last week, I mentioned that I was giving a presentation on Wednesday, which was actually part of a job interview. A few weeks ago, I saw that the position of ‘Head of Digital’ at Northumberland County Council (NCC) was advertised. I’m not particularly looking for a job, but it sounded interesting, so I applied. It turns out I got an interview.

The selection process itself was run very professionally, with candidates giving a presentation then being interviewed. My presentation (slides) went well, although I slightly over-ran. Afterwards, one of the 10 people who had been in the room introduced himself as someone I’d got to school with 29 years earlier!

When I went back in, there was an interview panel of three people. Long story short, one of them was the guy to whom I’d been sending slightly angry emails about the traffic diversion situation near our house. Awkward.

While it was a positive experience, there was plenty of talk both on the day and beforehand during the chats I’d had with Will Callaghan and Dave Briggs about ‘resource constraints’. I would also have had to line manage a bunch of people. I’ve got a good thing going with WAO, so the next morning, I emailed to withdraw from the process. I’m having a coffee with Chris Thompson, who is Director of Digital & IT at NCC, so something positive may still come of it.

The interview and preparation for it took up a lot of the first half of the week. A lot of the rest of it was taken up with user research interviews for both and Bonfire. My wife is a user researcher and, while I wouldn’t want to do it full-time, I have been enjoying meeting people and finding out more about them.

For, the Member Learning group is trying to find out what members of the federation of co-ops want to learn. For Bonfire, we’re testing a prototype of the ‘composer’ — the place where you create your message and choose who can see it, interact with it, etc. I already knew this from my product manager days, but ensuring something is ‘intuitive’ to use takes time and effort.

The rest of my time was spent doing work on the project we’re running with Participate, preparing for The Badge Summit, and working on a free email-based course that we’ll be launching properly there called Reframing Recognition. I also updated a bit.

On Friday afternoon, after I forced my son agreed to walk the second half of The Pennine Way with me, we went shopping. I bought him a one-person tent, as well as a few other things. I won’t be beasting myself like I did doing the first half of it in April, but we do need to get it done in a week.

There are plenty of logistics to sort out, as after my trip to Colorado, I’m back for one day before heading to Center Parcs in The Netherlands with Team Belshaw, then Devon, and then doing our walk. We’re dropping off our rucksacks at my sister’s on the way down the country, and then picking them up on the way back.

This coming week, Laura is away visiting family and friends in the US before heading to Colorado for The Badge Summit. So I’ll be working with John and Anne a bit, and also doing some stuff by myself, such as synthesising the insights from user research interviews. I’m quite looking forward to taking some time off, TBH, even though it won’t be particularly ‘relaxing’ 😅

Photo of water droplets on a leaf taken by me on Saturday morning.

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