Weeknotes #189

Things I’ve been doing this week:

Service mapping 

I’ve started creating a service blueprint to help explain how things will work in our new enquiry process, and to give stakeholders some confidence around what will and won’t change. It’s been really interesting to document my knowledge in this way. The next step is to validate my understanding with others.

Show and tell

We did a show and tell of the site so far to demonstrate how the pages will look on mobile devices and how the enquiry form will work for young people. As is often the case, it caused lots of questions from stakeholders some interesting points about how agile ways of working fit in with other ways and expectations. I think there is lots of education and socialisation work to do, which I think is going to be a very cool thing to do.


I’ve been preparing for shifting to even more remote working and becoming a digital nomad. I bought a bigger inverter to power both of my laptops and have been thinking about the kinds of places I want to work from. It’s completely coincidental that everyone is having to work from home.

Things I’ve been studying this week:

It’s all about the average 

No lectures this week, and no more until next term.

Finished and submitted my latest assignment.

Got a grade of 73 for my last assignment, taking my average to 71.33.

Things I’ve been thinking about:

The fine line

Dispatches aired a documentary about celebrities accepting large sums of money from charities for endorsements. Note that it wasn’t phrased the other way round, as charities paying large sums of money to celebrities for endorsements, that’s because it doesn’t happen. Dispatches even had to make up a fake charity for the programme because no real charity would take part in their dodgy excuse for a documentary. 

Of course, the charity sector was up in arms on Twitter, but the whole thing made me think about how Charities walk a fine line in the modern age. It’s getting harder and harder to be good at doing good.

On one hand they are held to the highest standards, looked to as the moral compass of society, and expected to always make the right choices. And on the other they are expected to achieve positive impact in a complex world where nothing is ever clear, doing good when all the odds are stacked in the favour of forces that increase hate, inequality and harm in the world.

I wonder what would happen if a charity decided to play dirty, and openly said that they’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission regardless of what people think about how they do it?

Marriage problems

I’ve been thinking about how to think about a piece of work we’ll be doing soon. We want to match young people to programmes or mentors or job opportunities, so I’ve been looking into computer science problems that deal with matching data sets.

The stable marriage problem is described as, “Given n men and n women, where each person has ranked all members of the opposite sex in order of preference, marry the men and women together such that there are no two people of opposite sex who would both rather have each other than their current partners. When there are no such pairs of people, the set of marriages is deemed stable”. This is the kind approach I think we’d take with matching young people to programmes as there is a one to one match, on the part of the young person at least.

The stable marriage with indifference extends the stable marriage problem to be able to accept that “a person may prefer two or more persons as equally favorable partner. Such tied preference is termed as indifference.” Adding indifference allows us to match a young person to two or more mentors and two or more job opportunities. We’d then need a mechanism for choosing between them, but I think that could be handed to the young person to put them in control.

I also had a really interesting discussion with someone about what constitutes effective matching criteria. I realised I had a longstanding assumption that matching could be performed on intrinsic factors such as behaviours and personality traits, but actually wherever any matching goes on, such as in dating app and job applications, it’s always on extrinsic factors such as height and location. In practice both these examples also allow the user to decide which of the factors are important to them in making choices. It fascinates me.

Long form content

I’ve been thinking about writing some of my ideas and experiences in a longer form than I do with blog posts as a way of grouping some ideas together and making them more visually interesting like shorthand stories or Kioken Blocks. Some of the things I want to write about are:

  • My experience of applying entrepreneurial thinking to caring for someone with serious mental illness.
  • Flexible working for knowledge workers, not just more people working from home, but how flexibility changes the labour distribution across society, has intangible benefits for organisations such as creating more permeable boundaries between organisations and society, how becoming more flexible organisations need to shift from measuring people by hours worked and use value delivered.
  • Digital Charity, and how it’s not about getting a new website but about how can charities fight back against the weaponisation of digital in society, and making ethical choices about how dirty charities should play in order to achieve impact.

Things people have been tweeting about:

Some virus is a big deal

Twitter is pretty much full of Coronavirus and not much else (much like the rest of society).

Taylor Pearson wrote an article about it. The Exponent did a podcast about it. The UK government had a strategy based around the idea of achieving ‘herd immunity’, then 200 scientists said it wouldn’t work, then the immunologists and virologists on Twitter said that they’d never heard of those scientists and that they didn’t know what they were talking about. Then someone in Japan tested positive for a second time, which further undermines the herd immunity approach. At this stage the only thing that seems clear is that no one anything for sure. I bet my old Zombie Squad buddies are laughing themselves silly about all of this.

Quote of the week:


“I tend to describe agile ways of working as “tendencies” that run counter to what might initially be intuitive (to perfectly rational/sane people). Not hard and fast rules. Not a glorified cure-all. Not something you transform to/be/do. Not something you “certify”.”

John Cutler