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Category: Weeknotes

Weeknote 43/2020

Eroded cliff face (Cresswell, Northumberland,)

This has been a good week. Among other things both at work and outside it, the highlight perhaps came on Friday morning when I went for a run.

Picture the scene: I get my running gear on, head downstairs, pick up my phone and open the Spotify app. It notifies me there’s a new album out by Faithless. I stretch, and start my run just as the sun is beginning to rise.

As I run the bypass route around Morpeth, the sky changes from purple to pink to orange to yellow, while a magnificent sonic landscape emerges, and my endorphins surge. Perfect.


In parenting news this week, we confiscated my son’s smartphone for a week due to his consistent, albeit reasonably low-level, flouting of family rules. When he persisted a bit, I banned him from the PlayStation for the weekend as well.

The above isn’t usually something I’d share here, but I watched The Social Dilemma this week, and thought it was so good that I watched it with my son at the weekend. Although the whole thing is a warning about the dystopian mess we’ve got ourselves into, it was nevertheless gratifying to see my own position vindicated.

Not only have I retreated from mainstream social media, but I’ve also insisted that our children go nowhere near it either. Their screen time is limited, especially compared to other kids their age. I wasn’t surprised to learn via The Social Dilemma that the those involved in Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. do likewise. I remember reading that Steve Jobs was particularly zealous in that regard.

I wrote a rare post on my literaci.es blog about this after watching the film, which I entitled Notification literacy? Being very intentional and strict about notifications is, I think, the single most important thing you can do to improve your (and your children’s) relationship with their devices.

The funny thing is that, after a few days away from his phone, my son (as usual) finds other things to do, and is generally just a much nice teenager to be around. Funny, that.


On this blog I wrote:

Meanwhile, on Thought Shrapnel, I published:


On the work front, this was the final week collaborating with a cohort of nine charities as part of the Catalyst Discovery programme we’ve been funded to work with over the last month. It’s been great, and they’ve all really enjoyed it too, giving us fantastic feedback and all rating We Are Open Co-op as either a 9 or a 10 out of 10 in terms of an NPS score.

Other work has included a bit of work on a new Greenpeace project, mainly reading and suggesting ideas while Laura is away. She’s leading the project, but is currently away for a couple of weeks, sailing around the Mediterranean with her husband and scuba diving. Not that I’m in any way jealous.

The third bit of work I’ve been doing is to continue helping Outlandish with productisation and their new Building OUT programme. The sweet spot between the two is the playbook I’ve started helping them with, demonstrating how they add value to organisations by sharing the resources they use internally and with clients.


It’s half-term for our kids now, and we’ve booked a couple of nights away next weekend just over the border in Scotland. We’re on the verge of a Tier 3 lockdown in the North East of England due to the pandemic and numbers rising in certain areas. If those restrictions are introduced, we won’t be able to go, so fingers crossed!

If we do get to go, I’ll be taking Friday off, but either way I’ll be taking it a bit easier next week to hang out with my family and decompress after a reasonably-intense few weeks.


Image from the cliffs near Cresswell, Northumberland, where I took my laptop to work on Wednesday morning. There’s a lot of fossils around there!

Weeknote 42/2020

This was a four-day working week due to my taking Wednesday off to celebrate my wife’s birthday. It was a ‘significant’ one, and I’ll be turning 40 in December too. Oops. Sorry Hannah.

We had a great day. I’d been a lot more organised than usual in my gift fiving and, given we’ve been together more than half our lives, I focused on the things that I know she likes. That includes walking on the beach in the sunshine, and ordering small plates from a gastropub.

It was lovely to spend the day together and a great reminder that before Moodle I used to work four days as a consultant, taking Wednesdays off. I need to get back to that.

One of the places we ended up wandering around was Barter Books, one of my favourite places, particularly because I always come away with an unexpected find. This time around, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places jumped out at me, and I’ve loved randomly dipping into its contents.


Talking of work, this was Week 3 of a four week Catalyst-funded discovery programme with nine charities. It’s gone really well, mainly because we’ve got a lovely cohort, and I took my ‘benevolent dictator’ role seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disciplined with a project!

Other work this week has included the kick off for a top-secret Greenpeace project that is going to both be exciting and challenging. We ran a pre-mortem as part of a mini thinkathon with some senior Greenpeace staff, and although we’ve totally got the talent and experience to deliver, by the end I was a bit 🤯

The third block of work I’ve done this week has been with Outlandish. My work with them has been squeezed a little this month due to my other commitments, but I’m looking forward to spending half of my time working with them on productisation and Building OUT from the start of November.

A couple of Outlandish blog posts this week mentioned me. The first was a quick update about what I’ve been doing with them over the past three months. The other was a really interesting post from Abi documenting a couple of hours in the life of Outlandish where a lot of consent-based decisions were made. It’s definitely worth a read, especially if you’re in an organisation that struggles to make decisions.


My therapy session again focused a lot on the internal drama within our co-op. One particular thing came out of the session was that I, like many people, look to other people for reassurance. As my therapist skilfully helped me to realise, this is doomed to failure for a couple of reasons:

  1. We don’t necessarily receive the kind or amount of reassurance we require from others.
  2. Even if we did receive the right kind and amount of reassurance from others, it’s only a temporary fix.

As such, we must look within ourselves for reassurance. For me, this is reminiscent of a Stoic idea that I’ve always found challenging: we should be so indifferent to the world that our happiness is independent of our current circumstances.


While I didn’t write anything here this week, on Thought Shrapnel I published:


Next week, I’ll be finishing off Catalyst stuff, diving more into the Greenpeace project, and spending time on Outlandish work. We’ve got a couple of nights booked just over the border into Scotland for the weekend after next, so we’re hoping the North East doesn’t go into Tier 3 lockdown…


Image of Dustanburgh Castle from the beach at Low Newton, Northumberland.

Weeknote 41/2020

Traffic cones in a large puddle

This week has been much like last week — busy, somewhat fraught, and involving lots of thinking about the future. It’s been typical autumn weather, with bright sunshine one moment and a torrential downpour the next!


I applied for a role at the Wikimedia Foundation entitled Director of Product, Anti-Disinformation after a few people I know and respect said that they thought I’d be a good fit:

The Wikimedia Foundation is looking for a Director of Product Management to design and implement our anti-disinformation program.  This unique position will have a global impact on preventing Disinformation through Wikipedia and our other Wikimedia projects.  You will gain a deep understanding of the ways in which our communities have fought disinformation for the last two decades and how this content is used globally.  You will work cross-functionality with Legal, Security, Research and other teams at the Foundation and imagine and design solutions that enable our communities to achieve our Vision: a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

As a result, I ended up writing about my issues with Twitter’s attempts at anti-disinformation in the run-up to the US Presidential election.

On Friday evening, a recruiter for a different global product director role got in touch seemingly slightly baffled that I’d applied for it, given my career history and credentials. I suppose it’s easy to undervalue yourself when various people chip away at your self worth over a period of months during a pandemic.


I’m very much enjoying working with Outlandish at the moment. It’s particularly nice to work alongside people who not only work openly and co-operatively, but are genuinely interested in improving communication, trust, and empathy within their organisation.

During October, due to my commitment to a four week Catalyst-funded discovery programme with nine charities, I’m only working with Outlandish the equivalent of one day per week. However, from November to January, I’ll be spending half of my week (2.5 days) divided between two things:

  1. Helping them productise existing projects, and training/supporting new ‘product managers’ (although that role will look slightly different initially)
  2. Working on helping them expand their ‘Building OUT’ programme which stands for Openness, Understanding, and Trust.

One of Outlandish’s values is that they are ‘doers’, meaning that the space between verbally proposing something, gaining the consent of colleagues, and getting on with it is really short. It’s so refreshing, and meant that on Friday I was able to publish the MVP of a playbook using existing Building OUT-related resources.


On Thought Shrapnel this week I published:

Here, I published:


Other than the above, I’ve been making final preparations for a milestone birthday for my wife, Hannah, next week. I’ll reach the same age as her in a couple of months’ time, so at the start of 2020 we’d begun to draw up plans to celebrate both birthdays. Those plans went out of the window due to COVID-19, so I’m trying to make the day as nice as possible, with an eye on a belated celebration later.


Image of traffic cones in large puddle at Morpeth, UK.

Weeknote 40/2020

I like the balance in the numbers of this week’s weeknote 🙂

Bluebell Wood, Morpeth, Northumberland

This week has been pretty intense, in lots of ways. It’s been the first week of a four-week Catalyst-funded discovery programme, with We Are Open Co-op as one of 11 digital partners helping 103 charities. The aim is for them to have identified a problem area, done some user research, performed some ideation, and prototyped an idea.

It’s going well, and although there wasn’t enough lead-in time, we’ve got a great cohort. The hardest thing, I think, is for them to think of something which isn’t a huge change management project for their organisation, but rather something testable and achievable inside the month-long window.

Another thing that has led to this week’s intensity was the short notice I had to present a proposal to the Outlandish members circle about working with them up to the end of January 2021. Thankfully, a number of them had already helped me frame it, so the proposal passed and I’m looking forward to continuing helping them with some productisation.

There’s yet another thing that has added to this week’s intensity: the huge spike in COVID-19 cases around where I live. It’s got to the stage where we’re wondering whether to send our two children to school next week. I don’t want them to get ill, and I definitely don’t want to get infected myself. After all, I don’t get sick pay.

Finally, there’s ongoing tension within our co-op. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but mediation has proved unsuccessful, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen next.

Due to the above, I didn’t end up writing anything here this week, but on Thought Shrapnel I published the following:

Next week I’m primarily focusing on Catalyst stuff, although I’ll also be adding some Outlandish and Greenpeace into the mix.


Image of Bluebell Wood, not too far away from where I live in Morpeth, Northumberland, England.

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.

Weeknote 38/2020

Doug while writing this post

This week has been a rollercoaster, especially towards the end. Among other things, it’s featured:

  • Lockdown being announced in the North East of England (where I live)
  • Success in a bid application We Are Open Co-op submitted to Catalyst to support charities doing discovery work
  • Being shouted at for the first time in a while (they apologised, it’s cool)
  • Conversations about productisation at Outlandish going well
  • Progress on an updated version of the email-based course on openness
  • Wrapping up a 6-month contract with the Greenpeace Planet 4 team in a retrospective meeting
  • Taking delivery of a new tumble dryer
  • Sunny weather making me feel better about everything
  • Both of our children being off school (on different days) due to having a cold
  • Playing more Star Wars: Battlefront II than usual to blow off some steam (with Sean and Adam)
  • Shaving my hair off again, just because I felt like it

Sometimes I think back to life just over a decade ago when I was working full-time as a senior leader in schools, with a baby at home, and getting up at 4am to work on my thesis. I’m not sure I could do that now.

But then, I’ll probably think the same in another decade’s time about this pandemic. It’s certainly tough, but I’m also thankful that, fingers crossed, things haven’t yet affected our family and town as much as elsewhere.

Background anxiety and stress levels are high, and I feel like I’m on high alert all of the time. This must be having a long-term effect on our bodies —and I’m not just talking about the increased weight we’re putting on and the extra alcohol we’re consuming.


I’ve published three posts here this week:

I’ll probably add a couple more things to Thought Shrapnel before the newsletter goes out on Sunday morning, but here’s what I’ve added there so far this week:

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to end support via Patreon and switch to a ‘bitesize updates’ model, pulled together in a weekly email. It’s more enjoyable for me to do things this way, and the mailing list is growing again for the first time in a while!


Next week, after being concerned that I wouldn’t have enough work, I’ve got so much stuff to get on with! I’ve got the upcoming Tech4Good event to finish planning with Erica, a new Greenpeace contract to get started on with Laura, a team to put together for the Catalyst work, Sociocracy work at Outlandish, and internal projects to keep ticking over.

Remaining unmanaged, whatever name you give to it always seems to be feast or famine, but the great thing about being part of a co-op is that you can balance out the work between you a bit. Get in touch if we can help!


Selfie taken while writing this post, at home, using the Retroboy app.

Weeknote 37/2020

I saw this illustration somewhere this week, but just as the days and weeks are indistinguishable at the moment, likewise my digital channels bleed into one. Every day, it seems, is: get up, spend most of the working day at the computer, switch screens for ‘leisure’ time, and then go to bed.

As Mark Frauenfelder reports for BoingBoing, perhaps it’s not just me — everyone’s in the same boat:

The issue with 2020, particularly with everyone in lockdown, is that we’re all stuck in the same four walls. And even though there are stressful things that occupy our minds, the fact is we’re not laying down very distinct memories, largely because we’re not moving around to different locations. Everything blurs together because every day looks essentially just like the last one. So when you look back, you think, We’ve been in lockdown for… how long? What day is this?

David Eagleman, via BoingBoing

I’ve been reflecting on Oliver Burkeman’s last column for The Guardian, which I shared via Thought Shrapnel last week. There’s so much condensed wisdom in there, but, like Austin Kleon, I found the framing around ‘enlargement’ when making life choices extremely useful:

When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness. I’m indebted to the Jungian therapist James Hollis for the insight that major personal decisions should be made not by asking, “Will this make me happy?”, but “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?” We’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy: the question swiftly gets bogged down in our narrow preferences for security and control. But the enlargement question elicits a deeper, intuitive response. You tend to just know whether, say, leaving or remaining in a relationship or a job, though it might bring short-term comfort, would mean cheating yourself of growth. (Relatedly, don’t worry about burning bridges: irreversible decisions tend to be more satisfying, because now there’s only one direction to travel – forward into whatever choice you made.)

Oliver Burkeman, The eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life

I haven’t talked much publicly about what went down when I left Moodle, nor will I, but it’s fair to say that I well and truly burned my bridges there. But the great thing about it is that I feel enlarged by doing so; I stuck to my principles, was supported by the team I’d put together (who also quit) and have moved onto things which make me happier.


For various reasons, I’ve started tracking the amount of paid work I do, and how much it earns me. Different clients, contracts, and types of work earn me different day rates. Sometimes this varies quite a bit.

Most days I spend from 08:00 to 16:00 in my office doing some form of work, with about 30 minutes for lunch. This adds up to a standard working week of 37.5 hours. However, over the last month I’ve been paid for the following:

  • Week beginning 17th August: 27.9 hours
  • Week beginning 24th August: 26.2 hours
  • Week beginning 31st August: 28.16 hours
  • Week beginning 7th September: 25.25 hours

That means, on average, I’m spending over 10 hours per week on things I’m not paid for. This week that included some pro-bono work for an Open Source project (which I’ll say more about when it’s got a proper web presence), replying to emails, research, blogging, admin, having a chat with a client about upcoming work, and a one-hour therapy session.

The latter was particularly welcome this week given some low-level drama going on in our co-op. For the last few months I’ve been working on my avoidant tendencies, which includes often apologising for situations in an attempt to make them go away. My therapist suggested that, this time, it might do me some good to just allow the dust to settle rather than trying to hastily fix things.

I’m particularly enjoying the work I’m doing with Outlandish at the moment, as I feel I’m able to apply some of the product skills I’ve developed over the past few years. There’s more wider ‘productisation’ work there, but also specific help I’m helping with related a stream of products and services related to sociocracy. I overhauled the workshop page for the

The initial contracts for those of us on loan from fellow CoTech co-ops were to the end of this month, so I’m not sure if I’ll be working with them after the next couple of weeks, but either way it’s definitely been a positive experience. Working with Aaron has been a highlight, and we overhauled the workshop page for Sociocracy 101: consent-based decision-making this week, among other things.


Other work this week has involved:

  • Helping Laura with a slide deck as we wrap-up a six-month contract with the Greenpeace Planet 4 team. We may remain engaged with them in some way over the next few months, but also have two contracts with other Greenpeace teams starting soon!
  • Updating learnwith.weareopen.coop to make more publicly-accessible a course on openness we initially put together for the Planet 4 team. I also ensured the new We are Open branding and logo is featured on that site. Our main site will be updated soon.
  • Drafting a post for the co-op blog about the Catalyst and Social Mobility Commission-funded work we finished recently. Erica Neve and I will be presenting about this at an upcoming Tech4Good event in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Talking with Ken McCarthy about some work I’ll be doing with Waterford Institute of Technology after they were successful in a grant application. Fun fact: Ken has not missed a day in 10 years of writing at 750words.com!
  • Catching up with Erica to do a bit of planning around our the event session mentioned above.
  • Deleting my Slideshare account after downloading the 83 presentations I’d uploaded there between 2008 and 2017. I didn’t fancy having my data mined after Microsoft sold the service to Scribd. More details here.

I wrote three posts on this blog as part of the #100DaysToOffload challenge:

…and posted eight times with a variety of links and quotations from things I’ve been reading over at Thought Shrapnel:


Next week, guess what? I’ll be at home. I’ve got some Outlandish, Greenpeace, and internal co-op work to do, but am also available for more work! I’ve updated my hire me page specially. I think ideally I want to spend my time doing more product stuff. It’s enjoyable and I think I’m pretty good at it.

Weeknote 36/2020

Trees and path at Thrunton Woods

This week I got into a new rhythm with Thought Shrapnel, restoring it to something approaching its strapline – i.e. a stream of things going in and out of my brain. I’m pleased with the result, although it will evolve and change as I do.

As a result of that focus, I only wrote a couple of posts here, which both happened to be framed as questions: What’s the purpose of Philosophy? and What do we mean by ‘the economy’? They’re part of my ongoing contribution to the #100DaysToOffload challenge, and I’ve been enjoying reading contributions by other writers. There’s an RSS feed if you choose your reading (rather than have it served up algorithmically by social networks) 😉

This week featured a Bank Holiday in the UK, so it was a four-day working week. Team Belshaw spent Monday in Thrunton Woods, which we’ve never been to, despite only being 25 minutes away from where we live. Of course, we decided to do the red walking route, despite the fact that our two children were on their mountain bikes. Cue me and our son having to carry bikes up a very steep section, broken up with tree roots. Still, it was fun, and we went out for lunch afterwards.

Despite the four day working week, I managed to fit in the same number of hours of paid work as usual. I ended up doing four half-day for Outlandish, continuing to help them with productisation and in particular developing what they offer to help teams work more effectively. There’s only a couple of places left on their upcoming Sociocracy 101 workshop.

For my home co-op, We Are Open, I’ve been mainly focusing on business development, submitting three funding bids on Friday. We’ve got some things to work through internally as the co-op expands and grows. That can lead to difficult conversations, some of which we’ve been having this week.

Those connecting with me via video conference in the last few days would have seen something new behind me in my home office: a full-size dgital piano, and a tiny Korg NTS-1 synth. Inspired by Mentat (aka Oliver Quinlan) I decided that it’s been too long since I tried making my own music. 25 years, in fact.

The piano was my parents’ and was at our house while my two children had piano lessons. Given our eldest gave up a few years ago and our youngest decided she no longer wanted to play during lockdown, it’s been sitting in our dining room gathering dust. I noticed it has MIDI ports to the rear, so I’ve hooked it up to the Korg synth and experimenting with the noises I can make. And they are definitely ‘noises’ at the moment…

This weekend, my wonderful wife and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. We’re pretty much middle-aged now, so celebrating it by going for a child-free long walk and having coffee and cake. Our children will be at my parents’. It’s a shame we can’t really go away, but on the plus side the pandemic has meant we’ve explored many more places locally than we have previously!

Talking of children, they were back to school this week, both starting new schools. They seem to be really enjoying it, especially being back among their friends rather than mainly connecting with them via Fortnite.

Next week I’ll be working a couple of days for Outlandish and getting started on a new piece of work for Greenpeace through We Are Open. Other than that, I’m still looking for a bit more work, so hit me up if you see anything Doug-shaped!


Image shows path through trees at Thrunton Woods

Weeknote 35/2020

Road being resurfaced with lorry

I’ve spent this week looking forward to this Bank Holiday weekend. I’m not employed as such, so there’s no particular reason I have to take Monday off, but not only do I want to, I feel like I should. After all, public holidays were fought for by previous generations.

I spent the majority of Sunday afternoon with my neighbours at a pot luck on the back lane behind our terrace of houses. Thankfully, the sun came out after the wind and rain earlier in the week!

On the work front, we had the final deliverable meeting for the work we’ve been doing for Catalyst and the Social Mobility Commission. It’s a series of linked resources relating to charities taking their programmes online: a quality framework, benchmarking survey, and toolkit of resources.

For Outlandish, I’ve continued with the productisation work, thinking particularly about the product manager role in a co-operative, and about upcoming products and services around Sociocracy.

I had a chat with a couple of large tech companies this week about roles with them. One flat out told me I was over-qualified for the role I’d applied for, but it looks like we might get some consultancy through the co-op with them. The other is a work in progress.

I made the decision yesterday, after much deliberation, to delete my Patreon account. This means I’m no longer supporting a bunch of creators, and also means I’ve told the ~50 patrons of Thought Shrapnel that I’m taking it in a slightly different direction.

Other than that, I’ve been playing quite a bit of FIFA 20, going for a run and on our exercise bike, and hanging out with the family. One thing that’s had quite a big impact on my life over recent days is workmen re-doing the road surface right next to my home office. The noise!

Next week will be a four-day working week due to the Bank Holiday. I’ve got a couple of days lined up for Outlandish, and then will be applying for a couple of pots of funding and doing some business development. Let me know if you see anything Doug-shaped!


Image shows road being resurfaced next to my house.

Weeknote 34/2020

This week has been another good week. Let’s start with last night’s wild camping in Northumberland National Park: it was windy.

My son and I, after walking a couple of hours from where we parked the car, and carrying everything in our backs, got soaked through by the rain and wind coming at us down the valley.

Mercifully, it stopped raining when we got to the place we’d decided to pitch, but the wind continued to howl. In the end, we we erected the tent behind a cow barn and then moved it into place carefully, being very careful not to become a human kite.

The wind howled all night, but we’d brought our headphones and each put on different variations of ‘sleep’ music to get some rest. I decided to sit in the entrance of our tent from 05:30 to watch the sun rise, which was pretty magical.

After some slightly disappointing tea and toast, we packed up the tent and walked back to the car. On the way, we stopped to have a look at a memorial to the servicemen killed in the planes that came down over the Cheviots during the Second World War.

I like mini-adventures, especially given we were back home by 10:00 on Saturday, giving us most of the weekend to spend with the rest of the family!

On the work front, it was again split between the work I’m doing with Outlandish, and that which I’m involved with as part of a team for the Social Mobility Commission and Catalyst. The latter is wrapping up now and looking great now that we’ve applied the official style guide.

For Outlandish, I led a ‘Theory of Change’ session for the new Products circle. We used Miro, including for the video conferencing aspect, which worked well! I’m hoping to stick around beyond my initial engagement with them to the end of September, and indeed have drafted OKRs taking me to Christmas.

Our children were at athletics camp for three days this week, which is unremarkable in and of itself. What made a huge difference is that it was the first time since March that my wife and I have been in together by ourselves during the day. It was nice to be able to have lunch together and do the crossword as we used to.

Next week, I’m going to be writing a couple of bids for funding from Catalyst and the Ford Foundation. It’s the final week of the Social Mobility Commission work, and I’ll be continuing with my productisation activities at Outlandish.

It’s also the children’s last week before they start school a week on Wednesday. Due to the three-tier system in Northumberland, they’re both starting new schools, so I may work slightly less so I’m around for them.


Image of our tent in Northumberland National Park.

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