Weeknotes by Chan #08–11
Happy Monday! It’s been a while ☀️
What a month. Yes, you read right. A whole bloody month since I posted a weeknote. Work has been so busy (the productive kind) and I have been smashing my way through projects. My social life has also stepped up a notch since everything opened up and I was able to re-connect with so many people I lost touch with since the dreaded covid hit.
Let’s get straight in. Here are my top 12 stories from the last month:
01. It’s a wrap!
Last week, I jumped off the Mind project after working on two sprints to help the charity ‘Create a feature that will allow users to have more control over their experience and make better connections on Side by Side’. An online community which allows people to share their mental health experiences and connect with others.
9 days, 8 research sessions and 10 prototypes later, we developed one idea that launched for first release last week!. A ‘filter’ helping users to navigate the feed, find content more seamlessly and make a meaningful connection with someone facing similar interests or experiences. We still have a lot to learn and a future of iterations but we’ve made the first step.
I was bought to tears during parts of the project, especially when listening to users open up about their mental health experiences and how important this online community is to them in sharing their emotions and making connections. The team at Mind have been absolute superstars too, always eager to learn our design methods and I am hoping they feel empowered to continue to embed these practices of research and design within their organisation too.
It’s an honour to be able to work on a project like this and seeing our imagination come to life — looking forward to see the impact. Writing a case study on this soon so watch this space! 👀
02. Two months of a fresh routine.
It’s been almost two months since I introduced ‘Monday Motive’ to dxw; a ritual where we share one picture from the weekend, our goal for the week and something we are fearing or looking forward to. It started off on a Monday morning, then we realised we all needed a bit of time to wake up, check emails and have a coffee so probably not the best time to do it haha. We also started off with just us 8 interaction designers in the team but thought, why not extend this to the wider discipline? So we did.
Since then, it has been such a great way to have a bit of light banter on a Monday and have a nosey on other people’s weekend shenanigans. I’ve seen all sorts from brunch pictures, hatching birds to water-surfing action and new home-moves. These quick-fire interactions make all the difference to the week going forward so I am currently exploring other ways to add these to our working week.
Amazingly, I just discovered that Co-op and Greenwich Council have also adopted the Monday Motive — power of weeknotes people!
03. Line-manager catch-ups.
Every Wednesday, I have the most amazing check-in with my line manager Gaz Aston — they are so important for me to open up, ask questions, share life stuff and just generally have a check in. I left a note of appreciation in our slack channel last week, as I honestly feel like a better version of me after our calls. Gaz is an absolute superstar and is so great at challenging me and letting me vent in a safe space. #linemanagergoals
Last week, we went through my pre-probation feedback and thought about areas I could improve over the next year, one being to ask for help and say no more regularly (a thing I have always had trouble doing). I left with a bunch of meaningful actions, resources and even created a ‘G-List’ which are a series of incredible one-liners and quotes from Gaz. Here’s a powerful one…
‘All design problems are human problems’ 🤯
04. Sharing is caring.
Not too long ago, I was asked to run and facilitate a workshop for Mind to try and get the teams creative juices flowing for a new feature idea with a challenge to make sure this was absolutely crispy clear for non-designers.
The lovely, Aggie, ex-senior interaction designer at dxw (now at GDS) gave me so much praise on the format and asked to re-use it in her workshops. Honestly, it brings me so much joy when people re-use and adapt the stuff I build, making it part of their design story. I am all about the sharing and thinking about creating some workshop tactics on Miro for absolutely anyone to edit or add to. Anyone want to tag team? Let’s make it happen.
05. Best practices at dxw.
So, being at dxw is actually the first time working in an agency. Having worked in-house for so long, I started the company with a million questions on processes, culture, having a commercial mindset and more. One of the things I picked up on was our mix of delivery outputs so me and Coca Rivas have banged heads to kick-off an internal project on refining some best practices to make sure our final outputs truly represent dxw and our values. Were having a proper kick-off tomorrow morning with a newly formed team to refine the scope and think about what good really looks like. Excited 👏🏼
06. Mental health consequence scanning.
Our brilliant Kath and Kira facilitated a mental health first aider (MHFA) workshop to look at who should be MHFA trained, followed by a consequence scanning session exercise to tease out some of the things we’ll need to consider. Should it be line managers who receive training initially? A range of people from different seniority levels? Someone from each discipline? Lots of interesting chit chat on what we think is important considering big topics like inclusivity and breaking down barriers of hierarchy.
I have read a load about consequence scanning but not yet had the opportunity to have a go and what a brill technique! It provides an opportunity to mitigate or address potential harms or disasters — something we should really be doing right from inception (defo stealing this one). Really excited for us to meat out this proposal and get going with training mental health first aiders at dxw.
07. Random coffee.
I had a good old chinwag with Alice Gregory, senior UX’er at the BBC, about life since we last worked together. Being really good service design buds, I remember always going to her for advice when dealing with a tricky stakeholder or understanding how to break down service design methods. After a great reflection on life and design, it made me realise just how much I have progressed at dxw over the past few months and learning about different design challenges across government, in comparison to the BBC. Looking forward to go back next month and talk to my fellow design community about the new stuff I’ve been up to! ❤️
08. New hair, don’t care.
What was it that Coco Chanel once said? “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”. Certainly felt like that this week 😂 I came home feeling like a complete new woman and it’s been a great reminder on how priceless a bit of self-care feels. It’s been a good few years since I treated my hair to a new look so certainly caught my friends and family by surprise. Would I spend 5 hours at the hairdressers again? Absolutely (minus the sore bum).
09. Walk and talk.
My best investment of 2021? A desk treadmill. I thought my stand-up desk was a game-changer but this treadmill has topped it by a mile (literally). I have squeezed in thousands of steps this week just by speed walking in between meetings and having a stroll during the larger zoom chats where cameras are off. It’s also not that heavy so I can bring it up and down the stairs if needed. Small change, big difference. Get in.
10. New cafe alert.
It’s been 10 months since I moved back home to Leicester after spending the last ten years or so (on and off) in Manchester. One thing that I really miss about Manchester is the quirky, independent coffee shops and restaurants; every weekend was spent in a cute atmospheric venue, full of character, class and good vibes.
This year, &KITH was introduced to Leicester, a relaxed daytime destination, but by night, a restaurant and high-end dry bar. I am obsessed with how the business is redefining social experiences of people with a purpose to make it socially acceptable to go out and not have a drink. Of course, me being me, I decided to go visit and take a short video. The pistachio iced frappe was beaut. Take a look here.
11. Back on the bike.
Last weekend, I spent some time in Milton Keynes visiting family and came across these Santander hire cycles and thought let’s have a good old bike ride. I’ve always wanted to give these a go, and with the first thirty minutes free, it ended up being a couple quid for an hours trip. It’s made me consider investing in a bike soon, but I defo need to improve on those uphills.
12. Re-balancing phase.
I feel like the past year has been a right rollercoaster and lots of areas in my life became out of balance for so many reasons, Covid-19 being the biggest factor. I can finally say that things are starting to re-balance. I now focus a lot on my health and stay mindful on what I put into my body, what I spend my time consuming and who I spend my time with. This time last year, I was two stone heavier and a lover of convenience, but now I’ve had a complete mental transformation, and not even hit the best yet. 💪🏼
Really appreciate you if you’ve read to this point! I promise, I’ll be getting back into the routine of writing these weekly from Friday as I honestly feel like my week is incomplete without pouring and sharing my brain out to you all.
Have a fantastic week! ⭐️