Weeknote 18.02.22

A week mostly spent trying to figure out how to stop teams needing to use arcane processes (support, data protection and information assurance things) that are from a different IT based era. And also working out how to define our spend in relation to ‘capital’ (capital, resource) that I found oddly engaging (rules, assumptions etc). Also met some people from one of the product teams I’m responsible for IRL which felt far more exciting than it had any right to, especially as I spent most of the day in meetings via a screen.

I’ve not done any training in years. At least nothing formal. But Nick recommended a course on product psychology which I’ve just started and which taps into my love of human behaviour and making things people need (or that do jobs that are useful). Interesting how the designers of the course have employed their own thinking to keep you focused, and committed. One of the more dubious uses of our desire for commitment and consistency (video) is a story from a friend who’s partner was on a streak of using Duolingo every day for 19 days. On the 20th day they forgot to do their language course and – feeling dismayed – opted to pay for their streak to continue! A-mazing 😎 More on Duolingo and use of psychology in product design.

We’ve tanked out our cellar during lockdown joining a swathe of other bored middle class families in making more of the space we have (when it was actually already enough but anyway). It’s been a long slog and that’s just as an interested observer.

One issue we’re now trying to fix is the heating in the house which went awry when the cellar zone was added and more rads plumbed in to a plastic veins passing hot water. We lost heating from a bunch of radiators and it’s been a complex job trying to figure out why, especially now the walls are plastered and the plastic piping hidden.

So this last week I’ve learnt about heating: pressure, pumps, balancing and some praying and hoping. There is undoubtedly some bad design work in the way the system has been reconfigured but with a new pump, and some ongoing balancing the previously lukewarm radiators are now (mostly) hotting up. Win! In trying to fix this heating my head was turned by the prospect of smart thermostats that will make things better. Trying to make this very dumb heating system smarter feels a bit like ‘lipstick on legacy’ that I spend my working hours avoiding. However, I haven’t really bought it for any smarts, rather I’ve bought it because I just wanted a thermostat that was easier to use.

Lastly, I’m reading Russell’s book on how to communicate effectively, Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Powerpoint. As I try to figure out why GOV management communicate by writing papers, which few people read, and how to persuade them that fewer words (and even fewer lines on spreadsheets), it feels like very wise and therapy. Reminds me a lot of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, only funnier, pithier.