It’s been a while — almost a year to the date — since my last weeknotes! Who’d have thought that we’d be where we are a year on since my last post.

I took a break

I took a break from my weeknoting this time last year —looking at my diary from them, I imagine it was because the annual business planning cycle had kicked off. I also remember feeling burnt out from the year and felt like I could not make time for the reflection I used my weeknotes for.

Fast forward 12 months, and here I am writing again, in the middle of business planning and feeling a little burnt out (nearly crawling towards the festive break) but having lived through a pretty unimaginable year. It’s been horrendous for many, but I’ve certainly recognised my privilege in a way I never thought I could or would through the difficulties of this year — and I am grateful of that if nothing more in 2020.

What’s occured?

Aside from the obvious monumental events of the year (pandemic, black lives matter movement, US election etc) some big and exciting things have happened work wise, so here’s a summary:

  • In May this year, our teams came together across technology, data, impact and customer journey to form a new ‘directorate’ of sorts (name TBC still) to help improve working together more closely across the delivery of our products, services and advice.
  • As part of that change, delivery folks who had previously worked into the expert advice and technology teams joined my team, some of whom are now in Jo’s very capable hands.
  • We’ve welcomed a new leadership role in our team in the shape of Giulia Merlo as Head of user Research and Design (leading our service design, product design, user research and seamless customer journey teams)
  • Kylie’s role expanded to include all products that sit across our new directorate.
  • Kate’s lab team joined forces with some of our seamless customer journey team and colleagues in operations and elsewhere to work on our response to the pandemic at a service delivery level.
  • All our face to face services closed, and through incredible efforts, these services were moved online and I have been amazed and inspired seeing the various innovative ways our local offices have and continue to deliver advice to our clients.
  • Our online advice content was visited a huge amount, and continues to have peaks in response to legislative and policy changes (The video below from April was eye opening!)
  • The content design team under the leadership of Simon joined forces with expert advice colleagues to build on the great work already done on delivering brexit advice in an ever changing environment, responding to the huge number of changes in law that ere happening daily at points.
  • Most recently we have welcomed Rachel to the team as our Seamless Customer Journey lead
  • Tim also joined us as our new permanent Director of Technology

I’m sure loads of other amazing stuff has happened, but they’re the headlines that I can remember right now — wow writing that list has been a nice opportunity to take a breath and reflect on all the things that have happened.

I got a dog

If you already follow me on any of the usual social channels, you’ll know this already, but during the lockdown, and with the working from home setup, we finally adopted a dog!

Her name is Dolly (after my husband’s favourite singer and person and my love of the musical Hello Dolly) and she is a beautiful brindle greyhound. Shout out to Kent Greyhound Rescue who were so helpful in the process, where others were pretty rubbish — for example, an instant no from several adoption places simply because we live in a flat.

Anyway, she is gorgeous, kind, gentle and has absolutely saved my mental health during the last five months we have had the pleasure of her living with us.

This week

It’s been tough — lots of back to back video calls, no breaks and a lot to do in between. Part of me re-starting my weeknotes is why I started them in the first place — to remind myself of the week that was and remember that in amongst all the busy-ness, some work got done and some things got progressed. So here goes.

Delivery Community of Practice

Under Jo’s leadership, the community of practice has gone from strength to strength and has found a great format and setup. We had our monthly 90 minutes together led by the excellent Kelly and Lauren. For the first half, we did introductions as we had some new folks in delivery roles outside of my team join us. We spent some time reflecting on a delivery lunch that was organised the week before where Kath Cooper had spent time talking to us about uncertainty in delivery teams.

We then spent time looking at how user manuals focused on our remote working preferences (to build on the excellent user manual work by Cassie here) might be used in our teams to help while we’re all working remotely.

Finally the community looked at creating a centralised delivery manager toolkit made up of templates we use for various ceremonies, meetings and the like so could all benefit from a library of assets for all our needs! I missed the second half as I’d been fighting a migraine all morning and lost the battle half way through, but was glad to see the community working so well together.

Conference time

This week was our annual conference, all hosted online for the first time ever. It was so well organised by our comms and events team — such a huge challenge to move things from what is a large scale conference online and provide a great experience for attendees. I managed to get to a few sessions, but was particularly proud of the session the expert advice (Emma and Kate), user research (Nic) and content design folks (Rebecca and Hannah) delivered on the various ways we’ve been supporting colleagues to give great advice during this pandemic. The response from colleagues in local offices was great and the challenges and feedback are always so helpful for us to keep improving on the work already happening.

Tough Thursday and supportive colleagues

Thursday was a tough day for me as it was the anniversary of my mum’s death — I’ve talked a lot about this, grief and loss in my weeknotes before, but this week it sort of snuck up on me. Luckily, I reached out to my direct team and my peers and got a huge amount of support to get through the day so am super grateful for that.

Friday

I’ve become somewhat hysterical by the time Friday rolls round each week during lockdown, so today has been interesting. A meeting light day, but one highlight was catching up with Lizzy to hear all about how she is getting on in her new role at GDS. Lizzy leaving Citizens Advice back in the summer was hard to take in the middle of this already rubbish year, but I’m so glad to hear how she is getting on and see her lovely face! Lizzy’s weeknotes are always a great read so I’d encourage you to go check them out and follow her for more.

No theatre, so music?

I’d previously use my weeknotes to shout out excellent theatre I had been to see, and so while that is not possible, I thought I would share some new music I’ve been enjoying of late instead.

🕺 Kylie — Disco

The uplifting happy music we all needed this year!

😌 Novo Amor — Cannot Be, Whatsoever

Obsessed with how he creates wonderful rhythms with piano chords

😃 Ward Thomas — Invitation

Easy listening, beautiful harmonies and just very beautiful

🧘Ólafur Arnalds — some kind of peace

The peace we all sometimes need in the middle of the chaos

And finally…

I watched an incredible documentary series called The Vow about an executive success programme that was actually more of a cult — fascinating stuff here. I’d recommend it all and talk to Annie who has thoughts too!

Head of delivery @citizensadvice. Passionate about authentic leadership, people, collaboration and self organising teams.