Don’t worry I’ll do it myself

When something needs doing it is easy to insist it is done the way you know. Which spins into saying to a teammate “don’t worry I’ll do it myself”. They lose agency and you end up doing something they could have done by them and you did that other important thing.

Next time you hear yourself saying “I’ll do it myself” try to catch yourself and see what happen.

Visible or invisible

If you want others to know what you are doing you need to tell them. If you did a good thing at work but didn’t share this with the person you think needs to know then it is invisible. When you go for a walk, do your neighbours know where you are headed unless you tell them, of course not. Your destination is invisible. I frequently hear people lament that their boss doesn’t acknoweldge their contribution and I reply “did you tell them?” the answer is almost always “no”.

In order to get known in your workplace or community you need to show up and when the time is right tell them something that makes you proud. Then on the next thing, tell them again.

Maybe it is through a conversation, an email, staff briefing, a talk or a poster.

You are either visible or invisible.

Pssst being invisible is also a superpower some folks would dream to have.

Improving my homeworking space lighting

Throughout the pandemic I have worked in two spaces at home. Now that I have a permament space in what is a converted garage it is time to make it helpful.

Also during the pandemic I discovered the weekly videos of construction and home renovation work of Ashville which has inspired me. As a quick reminder I am in the camp of people who believe the flexibility of where you work is a good thing and we’re knee deep in the future of work but we’re too close to see where it is heading. More reason to turn a temp solution to a good one.

The room itself is 3.6m by 2.8m and has a window facing the neighbours wall (width enough for a wheelie bin). The space is both cold and suffers from poor lighting with just a single light bulb in the centre of the room.

Ever the one to use the minimum viable product approach I started as budget as I could. I recently purchased 2m of the cheapest LED stripes that Wilko sold to see if it may be a solution. The light from this £15 stripe LED was a massive improvement and proved the concept.

I then spent way too many pockets of time watching all kinds of youtube videos on home LED installs from both professionals and DI.Yers. In conclusion I really still didnt have much of a clue except that:

  • the lights generate heat so fixing them to a proper “channel” will disipate the heat
  • LED density should be 60 LEDs per m if possible
  • shallow channels aren’t as good at diffusing the light (the more diffused the less you can see each individual LED
  • Philips Hue lights seem to be the Rolls Royce of lights but I couldn’t justify the cost for what may end up backfiring

As luck would have it our in-house tech team had just finished installing a revamped event suite for our private hire. In that projet they used LEDs and I could actually understand what a channel was! It also gave me a supplier I could use as there are literally hundreds to choose from online.

Therefore I have just stumped up the best part of £250 (a lot I know!) to buy the channels which the lights will sit on and the fixing bits and bobs. You could skip everything and just use the stripe leds sticky tape to attach directly to the wall but I don’t like the idea of heat directly on my walls…. i may be overthinking on this!

I ordered the below on 30th May 2023 from Ultra LEDS and I’m hoping I will get the time during half term to install.

If this works I will take some photos and share as others may wish to fo similar. Let’s see what we can do together.

Ask a question anonymously

I would love any member of the team to feel confident enough to contact me directly about a matter that they want to raise with me. It could be asking for clarity, a suggestion or feedback. We aren’t quite there yet.  The idea of the trust battery is that every interaction is an opportunity to show people that you can be trusted which in turn charges the trust battery Yet despite regularly saying ” send me an email anytime in confidence, call me or book a private appointment” it was tumbleweed. With 173 people at the Trust it turns out that it will take more than me simply asking. So about a year ago I make a very simple Google form that any member of the organisation can use to ask a question. The form has one field for the question and a send button. 

Every now and again at our weekly staff meeting I load up the form to show people that it doesn’t record anything other than the question. 

I have just received the 52nd question. 

I used to answer questions in the staff meeting but have recently moved to sharing answers on Basecamp. Now each question and answer can be seen by everyone as there is a good chance others have the same idea. 

I hope one day people feel happy to contact me directly. Until then please ask a question. 

The shape of the letter ‘T’ in teams

The museum sector I orbit is facing a short-term period of uncertainly. More than ever we’re all looking at what are our teams need to be in order to adapt to a rewritten rule book. Getting things done at scale is why people come together. We form teams because “Annie” has particular specialist skills that “Jerry” doesn’t and vice versa. In my experience this has a tendency for us to focus too very heavily on 1-2 easily identifiable areas and recruit according to a deep skill.

As an example on paper my specialist skill would be computing related. Yet what I bring to the team is a broader set of systems thinking skills in addition to other skills at various degrees of sharpeness. Therefore if I left the team it would be tempting to say “we need to replace Zak with another person with computing background” which is a reductive way of solving the team gap.

A much better way to consider what a team needs as a whole is to think in terms of T-shaped skills. In this concept we acknowledge that specialist skills are important and these form the long part (or stem) of the T shape but that all the other skills are the cross bar and equally critical. With limited people and budgets it is unlikely we can recruit our way out alone. I was reminded of all the cross bar skills in Seth Godin’s piece on real skills. What if we focused on protecting our stem by strenthening the cross bar instead? could this lead to progression based on your cross bar rather your stem alone? could we focus on the stress points and scale up or down accordingly? can we value consent-based decision making? problem solving?

What real skills can I focus on in 2023 towards enduring the uncertainty?

Reading list 2023

Every year I like to make a record of books I’ve read. I managed 14 in 2022 and have at least that many already sitting ready for this year.

  1. A Brief History of Black British Art by Rianna Jade Parker fnished 1st January 2023. Paperback ISBN 9781849767569
  2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler finished 18th January 2023 on Kindle.
  3. Jerry Saltz Art is Life hardback finished 20 February
  4. Trinity: The Treachery and Pursuit of the Most Dangerous Spy in History by Frank Close finished 13th March paperback ISBN 9780141986449.
  5. Atlas of Prejudice: The Complete Stereotype Map Collection by Yanko Tsvetkov finished 13th March paperback ISBN 97884617956666
  6. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke on Kindle
  7. Stolen focus Johann Hari on Kindle finished 23rd May 2023
  8. The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia on kidle finished 31 July 2023. A short but inspiring read by the founder of Gumroad. No meetings, part time and transparency ties in nicely with my thinking. I’ve been talking asynchronous for years so good to see a real example.
  9. Surviving to Drive – a year inside Formula 1 by Guenther Steiner finished 24th September 2023. Hardbook ISBN 978 1787636279

Got a desk?

I propose that “we” make available our internal hotdesk spaces for others within the sector. We advertise where/when/how and make every effort to reduce the friction to make mi casa es su casa. The results could be to foster new connections, reduce isolation, help each other out and start to make the future of work a reality.

I want to… book a temporary space to work at for a few hours or a whole day at a time at a relateable organisation such as a museum.

So that… I don’t have to work alone at home all the time or because I happen to be out of town.

As a… regular traveler across the UK

When… i happen to be in another town or city with the need to work

Because… I can’t afford to hire a private co-working space or hover in a noisy high street cafe (at least not most of the time).

A boiler plate set of terms and conditions to cover fire evac, desktop workstation assessment and shared values to abide by would keep everyone happy. Oh and let’s have an agreed wifi host name and password.

The “we” above can be any organsiation so that we scale up a network that could be anywhere in the world.

I am part of an action research project with Culture24 looking to how we use the opportunities of hybrid for good purposes. Birmingham will be the first flag of hopefully many.

See you in Birmingham?

A full bag is a full bag

I was recently packing for a few days holiday. I use a North Face Backpack. When I filled it but had more kit I had to prioritise and repack. In parallel I was worried about having lots on at work. A lightbulb moment occured as I realised that just like my bag I needed to prioritise and leave some stuff for another time. Just like that the anxiety disappeared and I remembered my good habits from Getting Things Done.

Reading time

I like to read. Reading let’s me drift off to alternative worldviews. I sometimes get asked how I find the time. One page at a time i guess. Yet for ages i found all sorts of excuses not to read. I’m too busy to read raising kids, working, being a husband blah blah. Instead of spending less time with family I worked around the problem. I played around with different reading times until I landed on reading when I wake up. In the gap between my wife waking and being disturbed by the kids. Some days it’s 5mins or 30mins.

I also purposely read in front of the kids when given the chance to show them reading can be for passing the time.

I can call my reading a positive habit that I’ve fostered.

This week I had the pleasure of taking the kids to the library to choose their own books. An activity that reminds me of my own childhood. I wonder if they’ll remember in 30 years time too.