I haven’t written much this year about what I’ve been working on.
I work on product strategy and delivery in both public and private sector organisations. This can involve things such as: collaborating with people to change how they approach work; investigating and articulating the needs of users and customers; mapping; creating frameworks; telling stories; and building services based on research and data.
It’s difficult to say much in a public forum when client work isn’t for wider public view. Non-disclosure agreements mean I sometimes can’t talk openly or in detail about work. Yet often bigger patterns can be abstracted across organisations and sectors. There are common themes on people, building capacity for change, technology, and leadership and collaboration. Talking in the open about these patterns is something I want to do more of.
This post is a round up of what I’ve been doing this year to tie up some of the loose ends and give a prod to start writing more* in 2018 (where I can) about those patterns.
Throughout 2017, the biggest project has been strategy and delivery work for a large retailer. It’s covered a good mixture of listening, understanding, doing, and delivery over the past 12 months.
I’ve also been working on a few other projects, including a digital development project with 64MA and work with Bird & Gorton on culture in Nottingham and on cultural leadership.
Late this year, I joined a project on digital coaching and mentoring in government. I’ll talk about this in a future post (see caveat above).
At the start of this year, I made some stickers. I grew plants. I had adventures travelling across Europe over summer. Being able to move freely and easily across Europe – and using a mobile without a roaming charge – is superb. I hope none of that changes.
This year felt like a time to get out and meet people, and take action. I went to a lot of design, technology and arts events. I joined in meet-ups including UKGovcamp, Liberty conference, The Fawcett Society conference, TechUK Digital Ethics Summit, Nesta Digital Culture 2017, UK Health Camp, ORGCon17, Democracy Club. Each one gave new perspectives, new voices and new ways of thinking.
Both The Federation in Manchester and Newspeak House in London had a lot of good events happening. Both are important physical spaces for meeting face-to-face and learning.
Next year, I plan to get more involved and find places where I can help with advising and mentoring.
I read a lot this year, both books and articles. Most books have been physical paper editions rather than digital, although I’m still reading a lot of articles online. It was a conscious decision: paper books contain few distractions, so are a good format for long-form text. Reading also became about using and supporting library services. Also after mapping out how I was using my time, I stopped doing some things, cut back on others (mostly social media) to read, write**, take part and create things.
Favourite book reads this year include (in no particular order):
- Radical Technologies – Adam Greenfield
- Content Design – Sarah Richards
- Women & Power: A Manifesto – Mary Beard
- Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari
- How to Resist – Matthew Bolton
- Everything is Obvious – Duncan J Watts
- Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? – Katrine Marçal
- On Tyranny – Timothy Snyder
- Stranger Than We Can Imagine – John Higgs
- The Good Immigrant – Nikesh Shukla
Investing in a decent pair of headphones has made all the difference this year, meaning I’ve listened to more podcasts while travelling. Trains and the Tube can be noisy environments, and defeated my old headphones in the past. Most podcasts I’ve listened to this year have been on human stories and on economics. I don’t know enough about economics. I’m learning.
Max Richter’s beautiful Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works has soundtracked London the most.
Learning and thanks
I learned lots from good people this year. Many people made an impact on what I think and do – and probably don’t know the difference they made. Thanks all of you, and especially Giles Turnbull, Christine Cawthorne, Fi Roberto, James Thornett, Justin Stach, Iain Thomson, Claire Game, Paul Rissen, John Fitzpatrick, Lisa Heledd Jones.
* I’ve not yet got round to writing up the post about flying a 737 at CAE Gatwick. A (late) one for next year.
** I’ve written more letters, notes and postcards this year. Fountain pens turn my scrawl into something half-legible, though Muji’s gel ink Erasable pen in 0.5 Black is pretty good too.
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