2022 annual review

What I did and didn’t do towards my goals in 2022.

I rethought my goals, from three quite practical goals to one more philosophical goal/way of life. Both approaches align with my principles, but the practical goals offer more structure and a consistent way to reflect on what I did in 2022 to achieve them.

Contributing to the digital transformation of the the non-profit sector

Working at a national non-profit organisation to embed product thinking and practice

I’ve been in my role as Product & Delivery Lead for a year now. I’ve really enjoyed it, but there have been some challenges, including figuring out what it means to manage a team that you don’t work with, and having too much focus on delivering projects and so not having enough time to work on the environment where product managers can create valuable, feasible, viable products.

Some successes:

  • Recruiting really good people to the team. They’re all fantastic.
  • Introducing an approach to continuous improvement for products that uses the theory of constraints and data to make decisions.
  • Establishing more robustness around security, infrastructure and management processes for both that help us have the solid foundations we need for creating great products.
  • Starting work on a strategy for managing technology that brings it closer to organisational objectives – something I think is essential for a digital-first charity.

Some failures:

  • Not being able to support the team in the ways they need.
  • Two projects failed, which I think could have successfully delivered value if they’d been approached in a different way, and I feel responsible for that not happening.

Participating in online communities for social good, innovation, product and digital

This has proved the toughest goal this and previous years. As an autistic introvert I find it really difficult to participate as part of a community. I want to contribute, I just need to find the right way.

Continually developing my knowledge, skills and practice

Completing formal education courses

I haven’t completed any formal courses this year. I had a few courses on my list that I’m interested in, but the only courses I started was British Sign Language and GitLab’s Remote Working course, neither of which I finished. I think not wanting to spend money was part of it but also appreciating spending so much time relaxing on beaches after doing an MSc last year stopped me from signing up for other courses.

Informal learning through side-projects

The first four months of the year had a focus on side-projects. Some quickly dropped out and some carried on in one way or another. I tried to focus on just a few in the last few months but without a great deal of progress.

I had a little bit of clarity when thinking about side-projects, that it’s actually exploring ideas that I really enjoy, not trying to build a product or diversify income streams, so I wonder if maybe this goal needs to be re-written to include writing/blogging (which is how ) or whether I should think of that as a side project.

Regular reflection on progress and barriers

I wrote weeknotes most weeks to help me reflect on what I did, read and thought about. Even after more than three hundred and thirty editions I still find it helpful to think back about the week.

I also did fairly regular retros and delivery plans to try to get into a cycle of learning from how I did in the previous month and deciding which things to work on next month. It didn’t work as well as I’d hope in focusing me on the things I want to work on, but not doing it definitely isn’t going to help so it just needs some refinement.

Living an intentional life

Following a nomadic lifestyle

It was a great year of being a nomad. I spent April to October living in my car and travelling along the west coast of Wales. I made it up to Holyhead, which I see as the turning point from the west Wales coast line to the north wales coast line. I still find it hard to express what an amazing lifestyle it is and how much joy it brings me.

Improving physical and mental well-being

Leading a very simple life and walking on a different beach every day makes it hard to stressed about anything. It helps me deal with the confusion I struggle with at work.

I started to understand my autism better, and to reflect on how it has affected/affects my life. Looking back at problematic times and situations, I can see how the way it turned out was because of how my brain works and how I understand things, and how I’ve failed to see that others see things so differently. I can see how my life would have turned out very differently if I wasn’t autistic, and maybe that way of life would have been right for a different Roger, but this Roger wouldn’t want a life without all the adventures I’ve had.

I walked most days, some times for hours, so my physical health was pretty good. I never managed to make running stick, but that’s because I never really found the motivation to get over dealing with the practicalities.

Maintaining financial security

My runway is up to 43 months, which puts me in a good position for next year.