Staying in the loop

Our staff and my team are distributed across 7 sites so I think of us as being remote workers rather than co-located. Yet our tools are very much configured for co-location. As with most of the world, email is our primary tool yet it’s very poor for communication on projects, or working with multiple people as unless you CC everyone it’s impossible to stay in the loop.

In order to address the shortcomings of email there are hundreds of tools, often badged as “productivity” tools to carry on where email stops being helpful. At our service i’ve been introducing several tools that allow for groups to post messages, review other messages and make informed decisions by being in the loop with ALL key people.  I have been receiving less out of context email, picked up mistakes or potential issues much earlier and after holiday and paternity leave I’m able to jump straight back in to the mix.

I got started by reading the excellent guides on 43 Folders and Getting Things Done by David Allen

We all know email is only one tool in our toolkit, is it time you explored additional ways and means for yourself and longer term to foster a better working culture?

Week 61 at work

Due to paternity leave I was only in Friday. I caught up with some of team, email and reviewed all our Basecamp projects – the progress feature makes this super easy.

Week 58 at work

A significant reduction in emails and meetings means it truly is summer holiday time. Allowing me to:

  • Put out a call for a Marketing and Communication Officer maternity cover post [I’d call it part Content strategist]
  • Finally went on our staff induction tour which was fantastic and led by Ray Barnett.
  • Agreed on our White City exhibition which will run at Bristol Record Office from 7th October
  • Got very close to completing a secret project [better to ask for forgiveness right!]
  • Spent a lot of my work planning activities for the rest of the year. We have finally moved to some better project planning processes and this took up a bunch of the week
  • Agreed our next batch of digitisation work
  • Remembered we’re playing chess not checkers

Not childish but childlike

Recently i’ve been trying to smooth the rough edges around kicking off new projects. Mostly using the GDS service manual as my north star. Yet I keep having a nagging feeling that not all the pieces of the puzzle are sitting in front of me. It dawned on me that although there is tons of great advice on running a project, there is a lot less on the proposal and justification for non-profit projects. I’m often missing the point of WHY the project or proposed method is even being starting. To this end I’ve probably been frustrating people recently by constantly asking “WHY?”. You want to use the exact same approach as last time WHY? Were there complaints and if so WHY? WHY can’t we do this differently? WHY are we committing? WHY if we’re so busy would you want us to do this? WHY can’t I say no?

I want us to be as clear as possible that we’re focused on the core reason for us to start a new project. Asking WHY really helps all of us refine our proposals. Once we know WHY we’re doing something it’s a lot easier to enjoy the ride!

Week 57 at work

Things I got up to this week:

  • Reviewed our current  media licensing activity with collections and documentation
  • Decided how we’d carry out our 400 exit surveys starting next week. This information is critical for accurately understanding our audience
  • Met with Prof John Cook from UWE ‘Arts and creative’ to see where we can work together on ubiquitous computing, people and sensors
  • Kicked the tires on our online shop which we hope to launch in August
  • Finally got the green light on online tickets (may of promised this before!)
  • Agreed how to reduce our digital and audio visual budget by 20% for Moved by Conflict
  • Chopped it up with MA student Heather Hammer about ‘why and how’ for all things image, video and audio
  • Enjoyed a post work social drinks session with some of the service on a boat!
  • Had a demo of Bristol City Council’s new open data platform which is pretty impressive
  • Reviewed current activity for our online collections tool with Mark doing an amazing job
  • Planned and kicked off new ways we resource and running projects across the organisation