This week I:
Work this week has mostly been about digital safeguarding, getting the platform set up and tested, and double checking that all the processes are in place. Next week I’ll be training our new moderation team and getting the platform live so young people can join.
I’ve also been working on a few other projects where I’ve tried to be bring more focus on knowing what we want to achieve and how we’re going measure the objectives. It’s too easy to get into conversations about doing things without a shared understanding about why we’re doing it or how we’ll know if we’ve succeeded. We should always start with what problem we’re trying to solve, I hope I can bring some robustness in that kind of thinking.
Danger close, kids
Teenagers and trains don’t mix. I saw some standing on train tracks, waiting for trains to approach and then running off the tracks. I called 999, the police came and went off looking for the kids. I carried on with my walk thinking about the behaviours of teenagers, teenage boys trying to impress teenage girls, how we judge risk and whether the risk is worth it.
Got the first response to my survey about the effects of lockdown on people who live in vans. There aren’t many true vanlifers, and they aren’t easy to find, and even when you’ve found them they aren’t that interested in taking part in research. Turns out that maybe vanlifers mostly just want to be left alone.
I reached 250 stiles in my collection. I’ve thought about creating an NFT for all the stile.style images but I don’t know yet if you can do that with a collection of images that are added to over time. Something to learn more about.
I’ve been looking for people who work in innovation in charities to be research subjects for my dissertation. But it made me wonder what percentage of the UK charity workforce works in innovation, and how that compares to other sectors.
Thinking about thinking
I’ve been thinking about how much I think and how connected it is to how much space I feel like I have in my world. The past couple of weeks have been really busy at work, I’m back out on the road, and I’ve started studying a module on Blockchain for my masters, and I’m doing a lot of reading and organising for my dissertation. All this knowledge logistics doesn’t leave any room for exploring ideas. I miss that.
Show, don’t tell
‘Show, don’t tell’, the phrase that prompts so many ‘show and tells’ and demos of work in progress, seems to have an obvious purpose. People understand better when they see something rather than when that same thing is explained to them. But it also goes deeper. There is a qualitative difference between telling someone things and doing things that demonstrate it. They are understood in different ways. Being told requires an intellectual understanding and acceptance whereas being shown reaches some other mode of understanding, somehow un-verbal. I think I see similar differences in lots of things, where one side is tangible, measurable, explainable, and the other is, well… the opposite. Job titles and descriptions vs. all the skills, experience, opinions and ideas someone has, is a good example. We use the measurable as a proxy for the immeasurable.
I listened to a podcast with a guy who worked at Amazon, about his book called ‘Work backwards’, and which he talks about some of the management techniques they use at Amazon. They referred to a memo Jeff Bezos wrote about how to reorganise the company for growth, and that it relied on teams communicating via API’s rather than meetings. I’ve been thinking about coordination and alignment challenges, and how from the Amazon point-of-view, the answer lies in making teams independent and decoupled so that they don’t have to coordinate people’s time in order to pass information effectively. The usual approach is that as organisations increase in complexity, usually through increasing the number of people, that more coordination is required, but I’m wondering about ways of working that don’t require lots of coordination and how teams can serve as platforms for other teams.
Weeknotes are part of a reflective practice for increasing agility of thinking. They are about writing about some of the things that happened over the last seven days, and reflecting on what you thought, felt and learned. Weeknotes offer a time-boxed regularity and predictability to how much stuff there is to reflect on, and shorter cycles and faster feedback increases agility of thinking.
Agnostic Agile principles
I read the Agnostic Agile principles. I like principles (defined as: “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning.” in case you’re wondering like I was). I refer, almost daily, to the Modern Agile principles, which are less explanatory that the Agnostic Agile principles, but not necessarily better or worse. Agile seems pretty unique in how much consideration is put into it’s principles (does digital marketing have principles, or brick-laying?) which is interesting in itself.
What is civil society?
The Law Family Commission on Civil Society published a report describe what they mean when they talk about civil society. There are lots of interesting things to consider in the report, including the blurred boundaries between civil space and personal space (the example of an online group discussing a local litter issue seems clearly civil to me, but anyway), the definitions of civil space (which range from whether individuals are creating social value to participating in spaces of shared value). The concept of civil society is particularly important in these times of society trying to figure out how the individual relates to the collective, but although much of that discussion might take place in the civic space we must also include the State and the Market in those discussions (the Basecamp thing is part of the same discussion; its about whether a company exists for the benefit of individuals (shareholders in Friedman’s point-of-view) or for the benefit of the collective (employees and wider society)).
Power and ethics in tech
Cat Swetel’s post about power and ethics in tech is amazing. She talks about power-over, power-with and power-to, about how even some actions which looks like they come from a good place can be done in a power-over way, and how people who approach with a power-over mindset struggle to see that power-with or power-to “is an effort to grow the total amount of power available rather than a grab for a greater percentage of a fixed power pool.” Understanding power is a fundamental skill in the modern world.
4 Modes of Thinking
A colleague mentioned Adam Grant’s work on the Preacher, Prosecutor, Politician, and Scientist modes of thinking so I read a bit about it. He talks about how we view our’s and others opinions, whether we assume we’re right or whether we go looking for information to prove or disapprove a hypothesis. I guess there’s a value subtext suggesting that we should try to be more like scientists but of course in practice all modes are required in different situations, so maybe the self awareness comes in knowing which mode to choose.
What is the true nature of reality?
In case you were wondering…
Wisdom to end the week:
I make a journey, you make a journey, we make a journey together