Open Thinkering


Tag: work

Weeknote 42/2023

Aha! The same number weeknote as my age. Awesome.

This time next week we should be partly moved into our new (temporary) house. Thankfully, it’s not next to the River Wansbeck, which very nearly overwhelmed the flood defences installed after the events of a decade or so ago. The tree being swept away by the river in the above photo used to stand at the bottom of the garden of the house mentioned in this post. That sound you hear is of us dodging a bullet in deciding not to go ahead with purchasing it πŸ˜…

I’m composing this post pretty early on Sunday morning having just done some last-minute edits to Thought Shrapnel newsletter #444. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Or maybe you do, which is why you unsubscribed. Or maybe you use the RSS feed to get the posts without my additional solo waffle? You do you.

This week I have been mostly:

  • Completing a badged course in preparation for the postgraduate study I’m starting next month. I wrote about that here.
  • Pleased that Laura is back from her three-week sailing holiday. She seems to have had a good time and is well-rested. Laura’s moved her excellent newsletter to Substack, which you can subscribe to here.
  • Having a Covid booster jab. I’m in a ‘vulnerable group’ because I’m asthmatic, which means I get extra protection. I’m not complaining, although I feel a little achey this morning.
  • Packing boxes, given that we’re moving next week. We… have a lot of stuff and we’re moving ourselves by hiring a van. The house we’re moving to must only be about 500m away from where we currently live, as the crow flies.
  • Helping my daughter prepare for, and then interview, my parents about some family history. I wrote about it in this post.
  • Planning for the first Community Conversations workshop that WAO is running with Participate. We’re using the ORE community as an example to talk about value cycles. It’s free, so please do sign up!
  • Setting up a new project with MIT Digital Credentials Consortium (DCC). We’re getting onboarded and then helping with documentation and asset-creation.
  • Catching up with various people and talking to others I’ve never had the pleasure of talking with before via my virtual coffee calendar slots. Please do take one if you fancy a chat β˜•
  • Getting involved with our monthly WAO co-op half-day. We did some reflection and planning, which was useful.
  • Attending a great SI Networks session entitled How to Communicate with Systems Maps. This is going to be an important practical part of my upcoming MSc, so I wanted to get a head start. There are some really interesting people doing some fascinating stuff!
  • Viewing some houses. People are still being a bit unrealistic about pricing, I think, given the state of the market.
  • Putting together a significant follow-up to Part 1 of Using Open Recognition to Map Real-World Skills and Attributes. In Part 2, which I’ll publish after my colleagues have added their thoughts and feedback, I not only provide a flowchart for the system I’d like to build, but wireframes for the main user experience workflow. I’m looking forward to publishing it, because I want someone to build this!

My children’s football matches were called off this weekend due to the storm, but my son’s basketball game went ahead. They absolutely smashed the opposition, and he scored three baskets and made three assists, playing Point Guard. I’m saying that as if I have any clue about basketball; I don’t, but enjoy watching him play, and he played well.

Next week, we’re following up some potential new work with Greenpeace, starting the work with MIT DCC, and running the workshop with Participate that I mentioned above. I’ve also got plenty more packing and logistics to get sorted, and then on Friday we should be exchanging contracts on our house and getting the keys to our rental. We’ve then got a week to move everything across before completion.

I may get some time to work on MSc-related things, in which case I might have a go at the Mastering Systems Thinking in Practice short course through OpenLearn. I do like a badge, after all πŸ˜‰

Weeknote 41/2023

Aaron looking into the distance in Northumberland National Park

I’m sitting typing this on my laptop while sitting in my car at an EV charging point. I’m knackered.

The above photo was taken a few hours ago in Northumberland National Park during a walk I did with Aaron Hirtenstein, who lives on the other side of it to me. We had a great conversation over the few hours together, including idly wondering whether taking people up to see these amazing sights we almost take for granted would be something people would be interested in doing. It’s the perfect place for the kind of conversations you can’t really have anywhere else.

I haven’t felt great this week, either mentally or physically. I wrote about the former in a post entitled All aboard the U-shaped curve, and I’ve done daily Covid tests for the latter, all of which have been negative. I may just have a lingering cold, but my Garmin smartwatch keeps telling me I’m stressed, so I suspect my body is fighting off something.

Laura’s back next week, which I’m pleased about as three weeks without the person with whom you work most closely is a long time. I’ve enjoyed working with Anne and John, of course, but I’m looking forward to Laura bringing some energy back from her time off.

I’ve been setting up new client work (more on that soon) and working on existing client stuff. I’ve had a few very pleasant virtual coffees with people. You can book a slot here.

The ‘body battery’ on my smartwatch currently stands at 11% which is well below the 66% my car is on. I’m going to publish this, have a little snooze, unplug the car, and head home for bed.

Weeknote 40/2023


Time horizons are funny things. Although we can zoom out and see the bigger picture to do long-term planning, in my experience, most of our lives are spent with time horizons of just a few weeks. Mine is currently the end of this month.

By ‘time horizon’, I mean the span of time beyond which it’s difficult to focus on with a level of clarity or granularity that can spur immediate action. This time next month we will have moved out of our house and living in rented accommodation. It’s temporary, and will put us in a better position in the current housing market, but it’s still a bit of a leap into the unknown.

Some people are better at dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity than others. I’d put myself in that category, as I expect the world to be somewhat random, disordered, and chaotic. Which is why I’m not a Tory: the world is not as depicted in a Richard Scarry picturebook.

This week, I succumbed to the cold that the rest of my immediate family have had. It’s annoying, because I think I could have avoided it had I not gone for a run on Tuesday when I felt on the verge of being ill, and should have known better. Tuesday, in fact, ended up being a bit of a self-induced day of failure in which I managed to drive around in a futile manner looking EV charging points and plan a running route that crossed the A1 during rush hour.

So I haven’t felt physically on top form this week, which has a knock-on effect on my work and outlook on the world. What has cheered me up is having a virtual coffee with a few people after I shared my calendar for them to book a slot. If you’re reading this and would like to do likewise (my Weds/Fri afternoons) please do so. I’m a good listener.

A ‘good listener’, as I point out in this post on mapping Open Recognition against skills taxonomies can be conceptualised as ‘active listening’. This is something I’ve really enjoyed working on recently, as it seems to be getting back to the original revolutionary vision for Open Badges. I’m working on a second part to that post, and you can preview the workflow I’m suggesting in this discussion thread.

Talking of blog posts, I also published one wrapping up Season 7 of The Tao of WAO podcast which I co-host with Laura. She’s got one more week of holiday left, sailing around Greek islands with her husband and sharing photos of beautiful secluded beaches. I’m definitely not jealous or counting down the days until she’s back.

I’m back in my routine of posting daily to Thought Shrapnel, and have moved the weekly newsletter to Substack. It’s amazing the difference a platform can make: new people are actually subscribing rather than existing people unsubscribing!

I got confirmation earlier this week from The Open University that my registration is complete for my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. My first module is TB872: Managing change with systems thinking in practice:

This module is about effecting systemic and systematic change in uncertain and complex situations, change that can transform situations for the better. It views change as inescapable in managing everyday situations ranging from personal to workplace to society in general. Rather than passively accepting change, this module will equip you with skills to shape the nature and direction of change. It will develop your abilities to manage change with others to avoid systemic failures and improve joined-up actions amongst stakeholders along supply chains, in projects, or even in social activism. It’s about learning to use systems thinking in practice to help you engage with and make change, and act accordingly in recognising the interconnected nature of organisations and environments.

Although this will be my fourth postgraduate qualification (I’ve already got an MA in Modern History, PGCE, and Ed.D.) I don’t take anything for granted. It’s been 12 years since I completed my doctoral thesis, and the world has moved on.

So, although I don’t start until November, I wanted to get myself sorted. This included getting my university email sorted out (ugh, Microsoft 365) and getting a grip on document and reference management. Although I didn’t do a bad job of this with my other courses, I always felt like I could do better.

After some research and feedback, I wrote this post outlining why I’ve chosen to go with one platform/app. (Spoiler: it’s mainly so I can use my awesome e-ink tablet.)

I’m up early today (Saturday) so just getting this weeknote out of the way. The rest of the weekend is the usual kids sporting activities. Hannah’s aunt and her husband are visiting the region so we’ll be going out for Sunday lunch with them.

Next week, Hannah is in London and then Leeds for work, and then it’s her birthday. I’m a little concerned about her travel, as we don’t get our Covid vaccinations until the week after, and I’ve heard of plenty of people getting sick after going to gatherings recently. Being ‘feak and weeble’ (as someone I knew used to say) while we move house would be… sub-optimal.

Also, Long Covid would destroy what little semblance of ‘career’ I have left πŸ˜…