Week notes are still in vogue right? Or they might’ve peaked. So many come and go (this might be my fourth attempt), though either way one thing still stands; they’re cathartic.
So I’m giving this a go: 3x3. Three things, across three categories: Work, Noticing & Signals. Three is always the number of choice. A proper arbitrary workshop finger in the air number of choice.
Is lots of content, data and information at the moment. The holy trinity.
Rediscovering and affirming that the internet is mostly words and data. Which means digital services are mostly words and data. So when a service’s core proposition is information provision (see statutory), words and data are important.
Somebody smart once explained how data isn’t just the stuff in databases, it’s the flow of info over time. Unfortunately, the over time bit is what hampers local authorities. Information provision evolves by committee, cottage industries emerge and silos are reinforced.
Which is why doing the hard work to make stuff easy is so important. But it’s hard, because you have to undo all of that reinforcement. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. That’s a formula for putting one foot in front of the other and getting moving. Must try to stick to that.
Of time, rhythms and the agency model
Change takes time. Delivering business change takes time. Designing for organisational culture change takes an awful lot of time. So what do you do within an hourly-billable agency model that is optimised for less time?
Maybe it’s just aesthetic change that we do. Surface level stuff. Stuff that brings inertia to an area, seeding the start of bigger, more meaningful change. A signal of intent. Less impactful than the hyperbole that you need for bid writing and case studies. Though infinitely more authentic, still valuable, and pragmatic?
What’s the pricing model here though? Is that where we’re fundamentally going wrong? The equation of needing more hours, for more impact, for more growth doesn’t feel sustainable. But what’s the alternative? On the search for some signals.
One signal, is that it reminds me a bit of the third sector. When I worked for a charity, there was always tension between restricted and unrestricted fundraising. Restricted was the easier sell; people like the assurance of money going to a known thing. Unrestricted was the better business move. You could divert funds to the corporate core, where operations are the ‘force-multiplier’ for supercharging the rest of the org. So you diversify your income through different fundraising mechanisms.
In an agency context, that might mean diversifying your client project work. Big ticket stuff, the cash cow clients, that feed the more gritty, less sexy, but infinitely more valuable change pieces around the edges. Then you tightly control the billable time on the former, and switch the clock off on the latter. I don't know.
That writing to know what you think makes more and more sense when you don't really have time to think.
Writing might be the best way to offload some computational memory of sorts. Freeing up processing power. For better ideas. Or more. Perhaps both if we’re optimistic.
This might be because when your thoughts are out there on paper, staring back at you, they start to evolve into something else. Like you’ve given yourself a different perspective. Or a wider lens from which to view them. To make sense of patterns and spot new connections. Articulating new frames of reference.
workingwriting in the open makes things better, and you’re only as good as your frames of reference. Then it feels like a win win.