Weeknotes #213

This week I:

Creating guidance

I’ve spent quite a lot of time working through the logging-in process to figure out improvements on the technical side and in the guidance we provide. Guidance content is an interesting challenge in many ways. When the user is on a mobile device they have to switch between the guidance which might be on a web page open in a browser app and the app they are logging into, or between the guidance in an email and logging into a web page in a browser, either way there is lots of switching between the two which makes it difficult to keep track. The guidance also need to check that they are taking the correct step and not just assume that the previous step was completed correctly, otherwise the instructions become increasingly confusing.

Developing a digital mindset

I started a blog post that was meant to be a few quick reflections on the Charity Digital Code of Practice. I’m less than half way through and have already written more than two and a half thousand words. I seem incapable of writing short blog posts, but I’ve definitely found it really interesting how so much of digital thinking in the charity sector is short-term implementation. I struggle to find anyone thinking about the vision of digital charities or the mindsets that will be required of digital charity people in the future. There seems to be the general expectation that we’ll be able to continue to use the same old ways of thinking and just apply them to digital. Anyway, I hope to finish the blog post over the next few days.

Finished hiking the Ridgeway

Last weekend I hiked the final twenty five miles of the Ridgeway. It has taken my brothers and I three years to complete the almost ninety mile route. I don’t spend very much time with my brothers, and this hike reminded me why. I’m quite different to them. They talk about what they’ve watched on Netflix and the houses they are buying. I talk about the ethics workshops I went to last week, my plan to spend the next few years on a roadtrip around the coast of England, Wales and Scotland.

How to hit a moving target

I turned some of my thoughts about achieving uncertain goals into a short course delivered via SMS. It is in part to test whether short courses using delivery methods such as SMS, Chatbots and scheduled emails should be part of our proposition at work. How much value can you really get out of a few text messages? I set up a landing page, and just need to finish writing the course and then get some people to sign-up.

Charity Island Discs

I watched Wayne and Lesley’s video for Charity Island Disc. I think stuff like this is wonderful community-building activities. It makes me think about my mountainboarding days where we tried to do lots of things to bring people into a community. Fundraising, as a function/career-choice/whatever is really fascinating to me. I don’t know very much about the practice of fundraising or the sector, but it seems unique to the charity sector (whereas most of the other function, e.g. HR, Finance, Marketing exist in corporate sectors) both in what it does and how it works. It would make an interesting social graph and might reveal whether there are people in the community who are pivotal to that community. My expectation would be that there aren’t, and that the community isn’t structured that way (like the mountainboarding community was). Given the income distribution of charities in the UK (95% with income lower than £1m) I wonder if the social graph of Fundraisers would correlate with the vast majority of Fundraisers not being part of or even aware of the community, but those involved in the community being more closely connected with the larger charities.

And I thought about:

Mind blowing ideas

In thinking and researching for the blog post I mentioned above I’ve learned a little bit about paternalism in charities, complex systems leadership models where authority is an emergent property rather than being held by a single gatekeeper, the history of usability and user research, especially in helping people use software, how maybe the idea of user-led organisations comes from the social model of disability, and how strong organisational culture used to be considered a good thing but now maybe utilising the strength of weak ties might be better.

All the unfinished projects

I have so many unfinished projects. Some of the ideas were complete rubbish, some were probably ok but I got bored and moved on. I bet so many people are the same. What if there was somewhere where we could all upload the projects, whatever stage they are at, from idea to validated audience or whatever, and then other people to take on the project, progress it a bit, mix projects together, reinspire each other. Of course, I can’t start this because I’ll never finish it.


I still have to write up my thoughts around all the research I did last week around tech ethics, ethics frameworks, a guide for charities introducing decision-making technologies, and probably a bit of a rant about people talking about tech ethics when really they just mean applying their ethics to tech.

Jobs To Be Drunk

I started reading When Coffee and Kale Compete which takes about the Jobs To Be Done framework for understanding that customers ‘hire’ products to accomplish things for them (people don’t buy drill bits they buy holes).

My website visitors

My little website gets about 20 visitors a day, and almost none of them read the stuff I write about, which I’m completely fine with. The steady stream of traffic seems to be from weird occurrences of search results like how my website shows on the first page of google along with Simon Sinek’s website and twitter account for the phrase “what almost every leader gets wrong”.

Screenshot of first page of google search results

I posted Sinek’s video to the Notes section of my website so I’ll be able to find it next time I want it. I wonder if I should add my thoughts about what he says to the page? Nah, I’ve got plenty of other half-finished blog posts that I’m far more interested in.

And some people tweeted about:

Building app when you’re not technical

Janine Sickmeyer tweeted “Non-technical founders always ask how they can build an app if they don’t have a tech team” She goes out to give some really good advice about identifying a problem and customer pain points, prioritising features for an MVP before going into the options of hiring a tech tean, using no-code tools, or a hybrid approach.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well

Dalton Mabery wrote a thread of advice about writing online from David Perell. The advice includes “There are no original thoughts, only original combinations”, “People will follow those who have earned trust, credibility, and authority. Those can’t be bought, only earned over time.”, and “Consistency develops ability”. These threads about writing online whilst writing online get a bit meta but I find the ideas about writing online (in this thread and in general) really interesting as uncovers some of our ideas about how expert knowledge and information sharing is and isn’t supposed to work.

What email service do you use for newsletters?

I bookmarked this thread as soon as I saw it as I knew it would create a really useful up to date list of all the new email newsletter providers which I’m sure I’ll need soon.

Alfie goes paddleboarding