Week notes #190

This week I’ve been doing:

Trajectories over alignment 

For obvious reasons, it’s been a week involving lots of things changing at a fast pace. We are all adapting to new ways of working, different pressures, and an uncertain future. In the short term, we still need to find ways to support young people and, for the medium and longer term, we need to think about how to be a more digital charity, to deliver services that young people need in ways that fit the world and times we live in. Getting alignment between individuals, teams, objectives at a time of such flux is futile. Instead we should try to have trajectories that mean we are all aiming at the same goal but expect that we will take different routes to get there, and that if things change for a team they don’t become ‘unaligned’ but just change trajectory. My team has been talking about how we do this so that one part of what we’re doing can change without affecting the other parts.

In control

I’ve had a few discussions this week broadly around the same topic of feeling like you don’t own your own schedule and not letting others to set your priorities and focus. It’s a tough cycle to break out of but it’s important for us to feel in control of the things that we can control. I’d say it’s even more important in times like these. 

Digital nomad

I’ve taken the opportunity of remote working to become nomadic. As I can work anywhere, that anywhere might as well be somewhere nice and be different each day. Luckily for me I have no intention of going where people are so I’m also self-isolating whilst getting lots of fresh air, and getting more focus in my work, study, and writing. 


This week I’ve been thinking about:

Redesign over resilience

The coronavirus seems to have greater second, third and so on order effects every day. Organisations of all types and sizes are either shutting down or trying how to continue to offer their services at-a-distance or online. Some organisations are undoubtedly trying to weather the storm and hope that everything returns to normal soon enough. I think that the organisations that manage to step out of crisis-mode and redesign their business model and reshape what they do to deliver value will be the ones that succeed in a post-coronavirus world. It’s day one for these organisations. If you were starting something completely new, how would you go about it to avoid reliance on past ways whilst not being over swayed by reacting against those ways?

Anti-social distancing

Uubs, restaurants, gyms, etc., are being told to close. The British Heart Foundation shut all it’s shops. Office workers are working from home. ‘Social distancing’ is surely going to be added to the dictionary by the end of  2020. Some people have tried to make the point that the term is inaccurate and we should be using ‘physical distancing’ instead to indicate that we need to physically stay away from each other but socially and emotionally become closer. I’m completely behind the idea of ‘social distancing’ (as a way of life, not just a response to a virus), as a means to flatten the curve of infections. It makes me think of Pirsig’s static quality patterns and how social patterns and behaviours have a moral right to overcome a biological pattern (such as a virus). 


This week, people I follow on Twitter have been saying:

Digital support for charities in times of crisis

Lots of people have been working on how to help charities that are being affected by the coronavirus. It’s really good to see people willing to help and the diversity of things they are developing. I think decentralised, distributed help is a better approach than one organisation trying to own it and organise everyone else.

Kylie Havelock tweeted, “Digital, design, and tech folks @cmmonknowledge needs your skills to help support local COVID-19 Mutual Aid community groups across the U.K.

Ross McCulloch tweeted about his zoom call to “help charities think about how they can deliver information, support and other services online using livechat, video and other tech.

Bobi Robson tweeted asking for anyone “interested in helping to share techniques and skills to help organisations pivot at this time” to sign up 

I wonder what problems they are seeing. And what range of solutions they are coming up with. Kylie also wrote about how crisis massively increases cognitive load and even looking in from the sidelines I can see some of the impact having to deal with a drop in funding, not being able to support service users, having to make people redundant, and all the other difficult things charities are dealing with, and affecting the people having to make those difficult decisions. Whilst I absolutely believe that digital can offer some new ways of doing things, I would if us digital people might be guilty of trying to apply known solutions to unknown problems.

The end of capitalism

A few people on Twitter seem to think that coronavirus spells the end for capitalism. Clearly this isn’t going to be the case. Whether you go by the crisis model or cycles model of capitalism, globalisation was a spatial fix to reduce costs. But globalization has issues, such as aiding the spread of viruses, and Digitization seems like the likely next big fix capitalism will apply to counter these issues. If digitization causes a shift from a ‘move the people to the work’ approach to a ‘move the work to the people’, and along with this organisations shift to measuring people by value delivered rather than hours worked, then perhaps we are moving further away from the wage labour basis of capitalism, but probably not the end of it


Quote of the week

It’s digital’s time to shine

“It’s digital’s time to shine; to help people (who are literally stuck) needing help, entertainment and life-saving information… Our digital delivery has arguably never been so important.” 

Joe Freeman