I received some lovely feedback about one of our delivery managers this week. This was entirely unprompted. The feedback was specific, generous and well articulated. In short, it was meaningful and given in real-time. I am so heartened by this — that an individual cares enough about the growth and success of a colleague that they took the time to write their thoughts down.
Susan and Jasmine have done an excellent job coordinating the scoring of a complicated procurement this week. This work is shaping up to be an exemplar for future procurements — the rhythm of communication (we tested a weekly stand-up type meeting with procurement colleagues), focused conversations that have helped us progress at pace and excellent documentation, which made the job of scoring much easier.
For a good while I’ve defined some key outcomes for myself at the beginning of each week. I magpied this idea from Matthew Cain. It helps to reduce the white noise of busyness and focus on what’s going to add value. On Wednesday I tried — more through desperation than design — this on a micro daily level. Sandwiched between nine meetings (totally 6.5 hours) I managed to finish three tasks that added strategic value and progressed three pieces of critical work.
I enjoyed getting my brain around “minimal viable arguments” with Matt this week (courtesy of James Plunkett). Matt is going great guns with our policy work drawing on user-centred design principles and agile practices.
Knowing how much to involve myself in the details of project work is tricky. It definitely feels like an art (that I’ll be continually mastering), rather than a science. I’ve been trying to think through the things that make me want to be instinctively closer to some pieces of work than others. Here’s where I’ve got to:
Maturity levels: Is there psychological safety in the team? Is the team communicating its difficulties as well as its achievements? Is it a team that values learning? Is there collective reflection on the work and the health of the team? Does the team ask for help? What’s the experience level of the team?
Visibility: How visible is the work to others? From where else might there be interest/scrutiny? What’s the impact on our reputation? Has interest suddenly piqued? What’s driving interest/curiosity from others? Is there noise the team needs protection from? Are their external factors that I can help to manage or leverage?
Needs of team: Are we close to a decision point? What stage is the team at? How knowable or unknowable is the work at a given time? What kind of allyship does the team need from me?
Comfort level: What is my comfort level? How comfortable are others with agile practices or design-led approaches? What’s my knowledge level? Has something unexpected happened?
All these questions feel like a kaleidoscope — constantly shifting into different patterns. The answers don’t stay the same as work develops, gets stuck or shifts direction. Individual personalities and team characteristics are factors that are highly influential but also hard to pin down.
Getting a contract over line. Making the minutes count this week. Winning the fight of focus vs “busy work”. Connecting on an individual level with a couple of team members and finding a slither of time to do some prep for a thing that’s happening in two weeks’ time.