Annual Report Number Five

This is my fifth annual report on working as a service design and innovation consultant. For the story so far, see posts from 201320142015 and 2016.

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Saying yes to more things, more often

Early in the New Year, a Stick People client got in touch to ask about a big piece of work with a very short deadline. I knew it would be a great fit for us, that we could really help the client – but also that we’d need some help. And for this job I knew where to turn.

This client is based in Birmingham, so it seemed natural to call Daniel Blyden from Spaghetti. We had never worked together formally before, but I knew that as a fellow global service jam host, he would have a shared language and way of working in a team with Stick Person Kathryn Grace.

So it turned out. Dan and Kathryn did a great job between them organising and running 6 co-creation workshops in 2 weeks, capturing loads of useful insights to help move our client’s thinking forward.

Being able to say yes to more things, more of the time, was a big part of the vision for Stick People – to quickly assemble dream teams of specialists wrapped around each client’s needs. Having a diverse network makes it possible to do this while keeping Stick People as small and lightweight as possible.

For the Digital Practitioner Programme, we were fortunate to partner with Vanessa Garrity, of Sociable Angels. Having a mental health nurse on the team gave us confidence to engage with both citizens and practitioners to understand what needs to happen for them to get the most out of digital in health and care. Our report has now been published by Leeds City Council, and mHabitat are developing the programme in an exciting direction.

Meanwhile, Sharon Dale had been facilitating the Government Digital Service’s Service Manager Programme pretty much single-handed for more than a year. Now user researcher and People Before Pixels organiser Rose Rees Jones is running cohorts too. It’s great to have her enthusiasm and perspective on the course.

Did I mention, we also ran a Global GovJam?

Helping people learn

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My own main coaching commitment continues to be with the Digital Academy, mainly in Leeds, occasionally London. I’ve delivered working level learning for business analysts and product owners, many of whom I first met a couple of years earlier on the original academy foundation courses.

As the transformation agenda ripples out across the government, there’s growing demand from people who aren’t digital specialists but have important roles to play in making digital service a success. My academy colleagues and I have run closed courses with teams that make policy and run frontline operations.

In particular, it has been my privilege to work with senior civil servants responsible for some of the biggest services in government. We don’t just explain design concepts, we get leaders to experience them with activities covering concepts such as rapid concept generation, synthesis, prototyping and iteration.

As I work with others learning, I’m also learning loads myself, from every group of participants, the academy team and other coaches.

The academy is now moving from DWP to GDS, giving us the chance to offer agile, iterative and user-centred learning right across government. As this snippet from the Government Transformation Strategy suggests, the ambition is huge:

We need to be user-centered, multidisciplinary, open with our thinking and working, data-driven and led by service design. We will create an environment and culture that supports making policy based on cycles of user research and rapid iteration. We will invest in service design leadership and capability. We will ensure that the policy profession is fully equipped to work with agile design and delivery teams.

Putting it into practice

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This time last year I was just starting out on an engagement with the amazing CoopDigital team on Funeralcare. I did some research, made some prototypes, and learned loads about the complex, unexpected and important business of caring for the bereaved and the deceased. I also got to see one of the world’s sharpest, most dedicated product managers in action. I’m now looking on enviously as Kathryn gets stuck into a proper contract with a different team at the Coop.

One of my interests in the past year has been how teams make the leap from just having a service in development to owning a proper live one. I did some service blueprinting work with a team in this position on Coop Membership, and a day a week working with the Skills Funding Agency in Coventry as they approached going live with a major new policy initiative and matching digital service.

My one regret from the past year’s consulting is not being able to spend enough time with these awesome teams. If you have experience of working successfully on a “day or two a week” basis with an agile team, I’d love to know how you made it work.

The money bit

In last year’s report, I shared some numbers from the management accounts for my consulting practice, Changeful Ltd. This year, as Stick People HQ Ltd has ramped up but some contracts continue to go through Changeful, it seems reasonable to show a combined picture consolidating both of them. Unaudited accounts, rounded to nearest £1000, usual cautions apply…

Sales are up, but much of that increase went, as it should do, to the people who did the work. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to work with them all.

The black line on the chart is what enables my independent consulting adventure to keep going. It covers my own salary, pension contributions, national insurance, personal tax and corporation tax. What’s left after that can be dividends or reserves to reinvest in the business. As I’ve noted before, my total reward package in full time employment at Orange was higher than this, but as a family we continue to live about as comfortably as we did then.

What should these numbers look like in a year’s time? There’s no iron law that they have to keep growing. Then again, I see lots of opportunities to work with great people, on work that matters, and to keep discovering and improving practice as we go. Maybe this is less an agency, more an action learning set with a P&L.

Thanks, as ever to all the family, friends and collaborators who make this possible. Want to be part of Year 6? I’m at mattedgar.com and stickpeoplehq.co.uk.

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Annual Report Number Four: theory, practice + Jaffa cakes

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I’m on a train

It’s the second-to-last day of April in the year 02016 and I’m just getting round to writing this annual report to myself on a fourth year of independent consulting. For the story so far, see:

This one has taken a little longer than usual. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Government services: not done yet

In matters of public administration I am a Brackenist. Like many, I came to the Government Digital Service inspired by the unstinting focus on “Trust, Users, Delivery” and stayed for the breadth and depth of talented people assembled at Aviation House. So when many of the pioneers moved on last summer, there was a moment of hesitation.

But what I had seen at first hand through my work with service managers was that the government digital revolution already stretched well beyond the bunting at 125 Kingsway. All over the country, hundreds of civil servants are reimagining public services, with people at the centre. Just scroll through the #ofthegovernment tweets to see some of these heroes in action.

So I’m still coaching user-centred design, agile and digital stuff in the DWP Digital Academy. Their commitment to industrial scale skills transfer is a massive vote of confidence in the department’s workforce, rightly recognised with a Civil Service Award.

Meanwhile, Sharon Dale has pretty much single-handedly and unflappably delivered successive cohorts of the GDS Service Manager Programme. And we’ve both carried on delivering the one-day Digital Foundation Day through Civil Service Learning.

True to our agile values, we aim to learn and improve with every delivery. Here’s one comment I received after running a Foundation Day for a group of civil servants in Preston…

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Over use of the word iterate !

As Louise Downe put it, we’re not done yet.

Winning here

The opportunity to transform Britain’s public sector goes even further than the 24 ministerial departments and their national offshoots. My home city of Leeds has been at the forefront of local democracy and public health since the 1830s. And even when Whitehall makes the policies, it frequently depends on locally managed institutions for delivery.

I’m proud to have been a minor player in two areas where Leeds has special expertise: digital health with mHabitat and open data with ODI Leeds (I reckon Tom Forth is right -it’s time to back this winner).

Let’s jam!

ODI Leeds has been the perfect setting for a couple more service jams this year. The biggest so far was Leeds GovJam 2015, brilliantly documented in this video by our sponsors DWP. Kathryn Grace, Matt Lund and I told our combined jamming story at Service Design in Government 2016 where we received my favourite ever piece of workshop feedback…

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Good balance of theory, practice + Jaffa cakes.

In a few weeks’ time we have the honour of hosting the Global GovJam HQ team in Leeds for #GGovJam 2016. No one makes a profit from the jams, but I feel I have benefited immensely from being a part of this global movement.

And, and, and…

Some other interesting things I’ve done in the past 12 months…

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At Impact Hub Birmingham

As I enter year 5, I’m also starting to work with the amazing new digital team being brought together at the Co-operative Group in Manchester.

The local maximum

The good news – it feels like I’ve found a model that meets my initial criteria:

  • Is there a service design challenge here?
  • Does it involve digital innovation?
  • Will I be helping to develop capability?
  • Can I do this work mainly in Leeds?

The frustrating bit – there’s only so much of me to go round. Working like this I’m reaching a local maximum – either I keep on optimising little by little, or I strike out and try something new. So in the past year I’ve started passing more work to associates and working with them on engagements I could never have taken on alone.

Here’s what that looks like in numbers

This data comes from the management accounts for Changeful Ltd, my consulting practice. Unaudited accounts, rounded to nearest £1000, usual cautions apply…

Year 1 was about finding my feet, working out what clients needed, what I could do for them, and all the gubbins of running a micro-business. (To anyone daunted by that stuff, get a good accountant who can work with cloud-based accounting software. Mine has become an enthusiastic convert to Xero, which is ace.)

In years 2 and 3, I worked at pretty much my full capacity as a freelancer. I’m fairly sure I could make more by doing fewer, longer, full-time contracts, but I enjoy the flexibility of working on two or three things in parallel. My clients want me to bring new ways of looking at things, not go native as just another team member.

In year 4, I continued working at full capacity – and then some – by relying on some fantastic associates to carry on and collaborate on stuff with me. So while the sales line on my Profit & Loss account jumped by close to 50%, most of that went back out to other people (the negative “Consulting” series on my chart). That’s as it should be: they’re brilliant, and they did the work.

Travel and other expenses – co-working space, insurance, sticky notes and felt tip pens etc. – have remained remarkably consistent across the four years. I believe the service design sector has benefited greatly from the global over-supply of 80’s Glam Fine Point Sharpies.

The black line on the chart shows what’s left after my company has paid my associates and expenses. From this come my salary, pension contributions, national insurance, personal tax and corporation tax (fun fact – in 2014 my micro-business paid three times more of this than Facebook in the UK). What’s left can be dividends or reserves to reinvest in the business. My total reward package in full time employment at Orange was higher than this, but as a family we continue to live about as comfortably as we did then.

That local maximum again: these are the rough metrics of that dread term “lifestyle business”. I prefer Paul Hawken’s anti-startup, “a keep-going”. Your Mileage May Vary.

One more thing

That’s not the end of the story because year 4 for me as a consultant was also year 1 for Stick People.

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Thanks to Lisa Jeffery for the lovely photo of Stick People

Kathryn, Sharon and I have worked together on projects for a few years now. We’re starting up a consultancy to help make organisations more capable in service design and digital. So far we’ve done two things together formally …

  • workshops and coaching for Leeds City Council’s community hubs initiative
  • discovery and development of Leeds’ Digital Practitioner Programme with mHabitat.

We hope these are only the beginning.

Want to be part of Year 5? I’m at mattedgar.com and stickpeoplehq.co.uk.

Annual Report Number Three

The night we kicked off Leeds Service Jam I sneaked away a little early from the post-theme-reveal dinner to a different pub on the other side of town. There I found an astonishing assortment of former colleagues from my time at PA New Media, Ananova and Orange – some of whom I hadn’t seen for a good 10 years. We were there at the initiative of one of our number who was finally leaving in an umpteenth round of re-orgs and redundancies. Yorkshire ales were consumed; worlds were set to rights. As we chatted, it emerged just how many of us had now made our escapes from the shackles of regular salaries, paid holidays and pension contributions to a more independent, if precarious, employment status.

As it happened at the time, I was part-way through Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman’s classic book ‘Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration’. Their hypothesis was that the world of 1997 was too complex for the “great man” model that still makes up most of our leadership mythology to this day. The qualities of the leader mattered (undoubtedly this was true at PA/Ananova/Orange Multimedia) but mainly so far as they could assemble and defend “great groups,” “free-form organisations more interested in their mission than their hierarchy” who despite seeming to be underdogs “believe they’re bound to succeed.”

Without presuming to place my now middle-aged cohort of late 90s new media colleagues on the same pedestal as Disney’s feature animation studio or the user experience pioneers at Xerox PARC, I think all of us in the pub that night knew that feeling. And once we’d been there, we were spoiled for life. The experience of working as part of that team set a bar so impossibly high that most of what passed for corporate life thereafter would be a disappointment.

So I count myself incredibly lucky that my work in my third year as an independent consultant has allowed me to be a bit player in multiple great groups, and to be present as a trainer and service jam host at the forming, storming and norming stages of even more.

***

This time last year, I’d just put up my hand to host the first ever Leeds GovJam, part of the global service jamming movement. I knew it would be good because I had such an awesome team of volunteers behind me. They – and the 40 or so jammers who came along – filled the fantastic ODI-Leeds space with 48 hours of joy, creativity and masking tape.

Leeds GovJam 2014 - Some rights reserved Lisa J Jeffery

What happened next was even better. Jammers took their service design and design thinking enthusiasm back into their organisations. One ran a whole day of jamming for her Civil Service Fast Stream colleagues. Another commissioned Kathryn Grace and me to train her NHS team who in turn went on to run workshops involving service users and clinicians in people-centred service redesigns.

This week I met with more potential jammers and volunteers for the 2015 Leeds GovJam. Tickets go on sale on Monday. Leeds GovJam is run by volunteers, and nobody makes a profit from it. Sponsors and supporters help us keep costs down, open up new possibilities, and provide extra treats and prizes to jam participants. If you could be one of those sponsors or supporters, please get in touch.

***

Among last year’s GovJammers were some of the Department for Work and Pensions team. When I first visited their Digital Academy it was nothing but an empty office space on the ground floor of an anonymous DWP building just south of the River Aire.

The first cohort arrived in the summer of 2014, since when I’ve had the privilege of working with dozens more civil servants committed to making their work more user-centred, more agile and more digital. Among the most rewarding times have been when cohorts leave the academy as a single team, ready to work together on a digital service. Members of the wider Leeds digital community have been very generous with their time as guest speakers in a series of lunchtime talks for the academy – if you’re one of those people, thank you!

Alongside my work for DWP, I’m also still involved with the Government Digital Service’s Service Manager Programme. We hit our target of training 150 service managers from across departments and agencies. For people in other digital roles we created a new Digital Foundation Day which is delivered through Civil Service Learning.

In my report last year, I mentioned teaming up with associates. It’s great to work with Sharon Dale on much of the digital capability stuff that I do. Sharon and I have different skills and experience. I think we make a good team.

***

This is Phil building the Internet of Things in December and a hard hat…

Phil at Little Kelham

Working for Citu with Tom, Andy, Phil and Paul has been a slow-burning but rewarding project. We’ve launched a beta version of the digital service for people moving into brand new passive houses a Little Kelham in Sheffield. I even got to write it up as a case study for Claire Rowland’s forthcoming book ‘Designing Connected Products: UX for the Consumer Internet of Things’.

Actuate at Little Kelham screenshot

It’s been a fascinating service design and innovation challenge. We had to get to know a full stack of internet of things technology, working across the site as a whole, and be sure all the parts would play nicely together to deliver a good experience to every user.

In construction, some things are literally set in concrete, but IoT services can and should be more malleable than that. Knowing requirements will change over time, we’ve taken a user-centred, agile approach to the design process. I hope we’ll continue to work with Citu to support, learn and further develop the service in partnership with residents as they move in and settle into their new homes.

***

When looking at new opportunities, I use a little Trello checklist to see if they’re a good fit. Engagements don’t have to tick all the boxes, but it helps, and increasingly the answer is yes to all of them…

  • Is there a service design challenge here?
  • Does it involve digital innovation?
  • Will I be helping to develop capability?
  • Can I do this work mainly in Leeds?

One of my ambitions for year 3 was to spend less time on the train to London. I’m pleased to say, that worked out well. The chart below shows where I spent the days I billed to clients over the past two years. From being mostly London a couple of summers ago, it’s now flipped to being mostly Yorkshire-based. I love working with teams in the capital, but Leeds is home and there are lots of exciting things to do here right now.

The other thing I’ve tried to optimise is how much time I spend with different clients. I like to go deep on a project, but also to keep doing new things across a range of sectors. It’s been a delight to be able to flip from public sector training to an IoT project and back again, and I believe my work on both those things benefits from the broader perspective.

You’ll see there’s a power law distribution – three big engagements that have taken up the lion’s share of my time over the past 12 months, followed by some speculative stuff that may lead to more in the future. I also try to say yes to the little things that come up from time to time, particularly where it’s helping local organisations with digital and service design. Those notches to the right of that chart included:

  • a report on digital healthy lifestyles services for a commissioner in the NHS
  • a workshop on the brown sign application process for the tourism and transport teams at a local authority
  • a training day for a digital agency who wanted to work in a more user-centred, agile way
  • talks to students at Leeds and Leeds Beckett universities.

Please keep asking me to do those things too.

***

So that was my third year of independent consulting. I’m still having fun, and my children still have shoes.

Want to be part of year 4? I’m at mattedgar.com

Annual Report Number Two

Discovery Centre

A couple of Fridays ago, 14 of my favourite people gathered down at the Leeds Museums Discovery Centre for a bit of a get-together. Besides being responsible for some pretty amazing projects of their own, they’d all been involved in some way in my first two years of independent service design and innovation consulting. I wanted them to help me celebrate and do some un-conference-style thinking about what might come next.

After a quick canter round the museum service’s stash of more than a million undisplayed objects, my group of customers, collaborators and confidantes shared the stuff they’d like to talk about – stuff like “the connected city”, “digital leadership”, “does Leeds have a value proposition (or do we need one?)”, “fun”, “curiosity”, “finding the right projects” and “what does open mean anyway?”

We left with more questions than answers, but they were good questions, we enjoyed lunch together, and we agreed to meet again.

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When I wrote my Annual Report Number One I was just starting out with the Government Digital Service, scoping what became the alpha, then the beta, then the live version of the Service Manager Induction and Development Programme.

A year later I’m still privileged to be involved with GDS, with the small team that has sprung up around the service manager programme, and with the smart, committed civil servants who come on the programme from departments and agencies.

GDS people really mean it when they say “Trust. Users. Delivery.” They’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time, yet it feels as if the transformation of Britain’s digital public services has only just begun.

***

While working with service the size of a G8 nation, it’s also nice to do something at neighbourhood scale.

Last summer I was funded by a Technology Strategy Board innovation voucher to review how actionable open data, delivered in the right way at the right time, could help residents in sustainable homes save energy, water and money.

I’m now part of a small team developing the resulting insights as Actuate, a digital service for homeowners and tenants to control and monitor their homes. We’re building the internet of things one neighbourhood at a time, and delighting in the way situated software delivers for users by the dozens not the millions.

Actuated Futures, the partnership behind this project, is also setting up the ODI-Node for Leeds, which promises to be a fantastic resource for open data-related projects in our city region.

***

As co-organisers of Service Design Leeds, Kathryn Grace and I had all but decided we wouldn’t have time to put on a fourth Leeds Service Jam this year. But with new volunteers on board we relented and were delighted to be able to link up with Rewired State’s National Hack the Government event that happened over the same weekend.

Inspired by this, we’ve put our hands up to make Leeds part of Global GovJam in June. Say hello to @LeedsGovJam if you’d like to be part of it.

In other news, I joined a panel of “game changers” for a top brand and innovation firm, got Leeds Met students designing services disguised as robots, ran a walkshop, and indulged my love of Leeds’ industrial heritage in a lightning talk on the Importance of Failure. Please keep asking me to do those kind of things. I’ll always say yes if I can.

***

So I find myself at the end of a two-year plan.

My gamble when I left Orange was that if it took me a few months to bring in the first consulting work I could make it back to cash positive by the end of the second year. I modelled the best and worst that could happen, plus something in the middle. (The three scenarios are named after coffee cup sizes; testing mobile contactless payments involved buying a lot of Americanos.) The blue line is what happened.

Chart

The variability is a function of the fluctuating consultancy income, overlaid with the uneven way we’ve drawn down money  to live on as a family – smooth it out and the gradient pretty much follows my “medio” estimate.

But the bottom line after my two-year experiment is that this is sustainable and there’s no going back. From here on it’s about fine-tuning the financials, teaming up with associates to work on bigger projects, and staying valuable to my clients.

Thanks to the many people who have made this possible.

***

One of my ambitions for the next 12 months is to spend less time on the train. Back of an envelope, I lived a full nine days of the last 365 on the East Coast Mainline.

I love working in London (and thanks to my mother-in-law for putting me up there on numerous overnight stays) but as a place to build a service design practice Leeds has never felt more alive with possibilities. Six out of seven workers here are in the service industries: they care for the sick and elderly, raise and teach the next generation, perform in the arts, clean the streets, drive the buses, staff the checkouts, and help customers online and over the phone.

I sense a real will among the people in charge of those services to be more agile and user-driven, and to do so at a human scale. I believe our fellow citizens should participate in, and benefit from, a stream of radical service improvements and innovations; and I want Leeds to earn a unique reputation as city of ever-changing, people-centred, service know-how.

Want to be part of year three? I’m at http://mattedgar.com

Annual Report Number One

work in progress

Exactly 365 days ago I set out on my independent consulting adventure, complete with the de rigueur intent to document my progress in weeknotes.

Week one was an intense blur of 5am flights, meetings and bratwurst; it went un-noted. Weeks two and three likewise. For a while, I told myself there’d be “monthnotes” instead. By the end of month three, this clearly was not happening either.

They’d have been pretty opaque anyway: “Planned research interviews for $undisclosed-client$; Updated the sales pipeline I made for myself in Trello; Word of the week is ‘vestibule’” – stuff like that.

So consider this a yearnote, my annual report to anyone who is interested. This is what I’ve learned so far.

The need for service design

A year ago, I believed the time was right for my particular flavour of people-centred service design. 12 months on, even more so.

Organisations of all sizes are looking to go beyond web and mobile marketing to offer genuinely useful multi-touchpoint services. They are hungry for new ways to understand what customers want, to reinvent the way we do everyday things, and to free frontline staff to do their best work.

This expresses itself differently according to context:

  • In our homes, shops and offices it’s often about people with computers in their hands that are more powerful and better connected than all the fixed infrastructure that weighs around them.
  • In our towns and cities, it’s about optimising for the cacophony of people’s aspirations and everyday objectives, not imposing a blinkered view of efficiency from above.
  • In our public life, it’s about reinventing simpler, clearer, faster services with citizens at the centre.

Thanks to my wonderful customers

Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to work with some great teams. There have been projects for a multi-national sportswear brand and a UK supermarket chain. I’m excited to be kicking off a thing right now with the Government Digital Service.

The lovely people at Made by Many have put some fascinating projects my way and are always a joy to work with.

Working direct for large organisations takes more time to line up, but has also proved to be time well spent. It helps me learn what customers really need and where my practice can add the greatest value.

I’m keen to keep that balance between different ways of engaging.

How long is a piece of string?

I’ve hit my targets for the year by doing fewer, larger engagements than I imagined.

Looking back, this is a good thing. I’ve finished every job feeling I delivered something of significant value to the client. I think they feel the same.

While I pride myself on being quick on the uptake, I reckon I add most value when a project gets down to a certain level of detail in terms of customer research and service design. Small, unexpected insights make a big difference, and those don’t always show themselves in the first few days.

Collaboration

Working with associates was always part of the plan. I had the chance to bring in a very talented service designer to work alongside me on one project, and pitched, ultimately unsuccessfully, with associates for another. Despite that miss, I believe this model is the future.

For the next year, I want to partner more with agencies and associates to tackle some big, worthwhile service challenges that none of us would be able to take on alone.

After experiencing the serendipity of co-working at Duke Studios, I wonder why anyone would be so dumb as to fill a big office block with people who all work for a single company.

Time to hear myself think

I promised myself that I’d make the time to keep thinking, blogging and speaking.

On this blog and in a series of talks, I’ve continued to circle around topics from service design to smart cities, with the odd diversion into local history. I gave lightning talks at Next Service Design in Berlin and Bettakultcha Leeds.

I’ve indulged myself with trips to London for The Story, Brighton for dConstruct and Manchester for Future Everything.

My search for a New Idea of the North remains a work in progress. And I’ve spent a little bit of time experimenting with print again, bundling some blog posts about places into a series of booklets over on Bookleteer.

You may notice this blog’s template is looking a bit long in the tooth – cobblers, children, shoes, etc..

Feeding the family

Those close to me at the time will know just how long I spent working up to the point where I could resign from my secure, well paid job at Orange to go it alone – so long in fact that by the time the moment came it didn’t feel scary at all.

I had some money put by to be sure that the kids wouldn’t starve if I went a few months without work. A year later, most of that money is still there, which is nice to know. Having that buffer allows me to smooth out the peaks and troughs that seem to be an inevitable feature of freelancing.

There’s a pleasing directness in the relationship between working and earning. But then I’ve been lucky that all my customers are prompt payers. Long may they continue to be so.

Xero makes wrangling receipts, invoices and VAT returns so much fun that I sometimes have to check myself from tumbling down a rabbit-hole of financial over-analysis and fantasy budgeting. I feel it’s important to keep this stuff simple and focus on doing good work.

Enduring values

Alongside my business plan, I wrote a manifesto. “Changeful” was the codename I used for my consulting practice and is now the name of my registered company.

At the time I wasn’t sure if these really were enduring values. They could so easily have been temporary hobby-horses born of my context at the time. But this evening I looked back over the list and thought, yeah, they’re enduring, so far.

I publish them here unaltered:

Changeful will be exciting and distinctive to work with because of some basic principles.

  1. It’s more profitable to make stuff that people already want than to make them want stuff that’s already made. That’s why Changeful will follow a user-centred design process. It will never put lipstick on a pig.

  2. Great products and services are grounded in a sense of place, and for Changeful that place is Leeds. It will work for clients and users all over the world, but where possible it will start with its fellow citizens.

  3. Changeful aims to be part of an open network of suppliers and customers where the presumption is in favour of sharing skills, knowledge and tasks. The most natural habitat for this behaviour is the Web.

  4. Sometimes Changeful’s work will be challenging, in order to be more rewarding – like John Ruskin’s six qualities of great Gothic stone-masonry: “Savageness, Changefulness, Naturalism, Grotesqueness, Rigidity and Redundance.”

  5. Wherever possible Changeful will use freely available tools and materials that are open to anyone. People should be able to look at Changeful’s offer, be inspired, and say, “I could do that too”.

  6. Changeful must enjoy keeping up stuff that already exists as much as making from scratch. Some days nobody will notice the difference Changeful makes, but we’ll all reap the benefits in the long run.

  7. Changeful will stay focused on the things that will make the biggest difference to customers and clients. When we see a bottle that says “drink me” we will check the label on the back and most likely leave well alone.

So that was year one. Thanks to all the people – too numerous to name – who have helped me on the way.

Want to be part of year two? I’m at http://mattedgar.com