Weeknotes #2 – Back down to earth

After a high there is nowhere to go but down. I felt this last week. It was a difficult week for many people. For me it started with a conversation that triggered a lot of insecurities in me and ended with a minor car crash. The meat in the sandwich was the backdrop of violence against women and police ignorance.

I’m struggling to engage with my feelings around what is happening in the wider world so I’ll stay closer to home for this weeknote. Bear with me as it may jump around a bit. A reflection of my state of mind no doubt.

Last week

A few things happened last week that made me think. The first thing was the conversation I had on Monday. How I felt about this conversation was no reflection on the person I was having it with but it did make me reflect on Joy and my offering. I had to work quite hard to turn my initial feelings of inadequacy and ‘oh my god why haven’t I worked it all out yet’ into something more realistic and constructive. That took a walk, a double walk in fact, but I got there. Reminding myself I’m 2 weeks in, that I need time to experiment and booking ‘thinking time’ into my diary helped.

A couple of the innovation team, James and Phoebe, at Lloyds ran a really great session on Tuesday on the team charter. They used an online platform that allowed us all to contribute in a really democratic way by submitting answers and voting on them on our phones. Half the attendees were in person and half on Teams. It was the first time in a long time I felt I’d been part of a meeting where everyone could contribute and the barrier between in person and remote was removed.

I’m planning some research at the moment and we’re looking at how we can test propositions with users by showing them some visual stimulus. I’ve been working through this with the team and I found myself naturally falling into ‘leadership mode’ and assuming the others would ‘do-the-doing’. I feel like I’m still figuring out how to be a hands on designer again and do this as part of a team. Any advice is welcomed.

Talking of research and innovation. I’m really keen we explore how we can do exploratory user research earlier in the innovation process, so that it helps inform the shaping of opportunity areas. At the moment the team tends to focus more on testing hypotheses but I know ethnographic approaches especially have real potential to shape future propositions.

The innovation team focus heavily on the development of business models and the financial viability of propositions. I’ve always said I do pictures and words but not numbers. Numbers horrify me, they always have. I was the kid in maths class that asked my teacher ‘why’ so many times they were giving up teaching to become a florist at the end of every lesson with me. However, I want to lean into this discomfort and I’m keen to understand how the team do their business viability calculations.

I had Friday off this week. This meant I felt a little bit torn through the week as any Joy work or conversations had to be done out of hours as I didn’t have my Friday buffer. But it did mean I could get up to Sheffield and have a longer weekend with the family. Something I always said I wanted to do more when I went contract.

The low point of this was rolling backwards down a hill in my car into a grit bin! The high point was going pumpkin picking with 2 of my favourite girls.

Three things to take into next week:

  1. While I want to avoid putting pressure on myself with Joy, I do need to set aside and protect thinking time to develop my offer.
  2. It’s ok to take Fridays off!
  3. I need to relearn what it means to be a hands on designer. This is going to come with some difficult feelings I think.




Freelance specialist in user research, service design and brand development. designforjoy.co.uk Previously @wearesnook, @nhsdigital, @wearewithyou.

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Emma Parnell

Emma Parnell

Freelance specialist in user research, service design and brand development. designforjoy.co.uk Previously @wearesnook, @nhsdigital, @wearewithyou.

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