Notes on week 28 of 2023.
If you're new to this, read me week notes explanation.
My last week note was in September 2022. I've been absent because I lost my way last year / stopped sharing. Then I started in Defence / was paranoid of sharing.
Now I'm back! Thanks to Polly for inspiring / helping me.
Here's what’s happened since September 2022.
Job share ended after Jen got a well deserved promotion,
I went back to full time and stayed in the same role,
I left Justice Digital / Civil Service in March 2023,
Joined Digi2al on Monday 17 April 2023,
Deployed to Defence Digital Foundry the same day,
I’m Community Development Lead for the Foundry,
Completed discovery of 1 internal community,
Halfway thru the resulting alpha recommendations,
Helped refresh a Defence wide community,
About to start discovery for 2 more internal communities,
Organising 2 big community events for later in the year,
Lots of little chats with people interested in community,
Presented my work at Foundry Show & Tell,
There’s a lot more, but that’s a good overview.
Just on the Foundry Show & Tell, I did 3 slides to introduce myself. The 1 below brought a smile to people's faces.
Reception emails James confirming his visitors.
Why I've always wanted to work in Defence
I've wanted to work in Defence for a long, long time. Aside from watching too many "sexy spy movies", working at the Imperial War Museum and visiting lots of others, I'm fascinated by the interface between Crown and Civil servants. In other words, "people who've earned the right to wear a uniform" (who I assumed have had strict, hierarchal training) and those of us civies who probably haven't.
When I joined the Civil Service in 2012 I did user support for a service called Contracts Finder. It brought me into contact with lots of people in Defence with email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org (don't worry, that's a non-functioning example). The compolrcl2b2r is called a "tally" and from what I understand it's code for where the role is based and what "grade" it is, ie where in the hierarchy the role sits (I've never actually confirmed that so I may be wrong).
I really enjoyed my interactions with both Crown and Civil servants in Defence. They weren't complicated, unlike many of my other Contracts Finder users. They never lost their temper, even when the transition from Business Link to GOV.UK didn't go swimmingly. We just talked, agreed and I delivered.
Quitting the Civil Service to work with the Civil Service
So I was plodding along in my Justice Digital delivery manager role, when Imran got in touch about a job in Defence he'd been approached to do. He was doing a-ma-zing, inspiring community work on the GOV.UK Design System (and still is 🎉) so passed it up, but kindly told me about it and I went for it.
One snag; it meant quitting the Civil Service. Apparently, because of the way the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is funded, there are far more contractors, agencies and partner organisations working with Defence, than there are permanently employed members of the Civil part of the Crown and Civil collective that makes up MOD.
Fortunately, the partner organisation that would be employing me was Digi2al. It's fair to say they're (now we're 🙂) relatively unknown outside of Defence, even though we've sponsored UKGovCamp recently.
The first chat I had with Rich Brantingham on 15 February was just so welcoming and positive, that it didn't take much for me to get over the fear of not being a permanent employee of the Civil Service. I had a follow up call with Digi2al's Directors on 22 February, then handed my notice into Justice Digital on 24 February. The following week I negotiated a 4 week notice period and quit the Civil Service on Friday 31 March. After a couple of weeks leave with Janet, I started at Digi2al and Defence Digital Foundry on 17 April.
It's been worth it
Until recently, I thought I was missing being a "proper" Civil Servant. But I've realised I don't miss my "status" as a permanent Civil Servant. I'm still in the cross-gov Slack workspace. I still organise UKGovCamp and other public sector events. But most of all Digi2al's been really good to me, and I'm beginning to see the massive opportunity to work with different clients.
But mainly I love the work. I get to do community all day long, with a client organisation I've always wanted to work in.
And I've had my James Bond moment. Yes, I too have received an email from reception saying my visitors are confirmed.
I don't know what Bond's catchphrase is (The names's Bond, James Bond??) but mine continues to be:
Bring people together.
Make things better 🙂
Chat about the above
Book a chat / meetup for a natter.