Killing off your emails, aiming at project transparency

Just wanted to share, recently I read this article…

It talks a lot about transparency which I totally agree with. A more transparent team is a more efficient and better team. Proper transparency means the team’s (including the client) expectations are managed and less confused. However I totally disagree with emails as the best tool for transparency. That is a Big Bad Decision. From my experience as a project manager at Thought Den and beyond, project emails only lead to a breakdown in communication and less transparency.

emails only lead to a breakdown in communication and less transparency

Emails turn into a constant mailbox search for important project facts hidden away in a long thread. Emails go wrong, people get missed out and conversations become so indented you need a 90″ wide screen to read them. Conversations become overlapped, badly formatted and the whole studio gets into a major issue with, “which email is correct?”.

A messy email chain
A messy email chain

Every efficient studio team needs a single, open, multi-platform and simple point of project contact. For me, that’s in the form of Trello, but JIRA and Redmine are both great too.

The Trello backlog board is where changes, tweaks and additions happen. It’s searchable, accessible by all the project team and it’s one shared place for everyone to work in.

The sprint board
The sprint board

Also, if a client wants to know what’s going on presently with their project or maybe a scrum “pig” (a team member with skin in the game) has a question for them, the whole conversation should be kept in a Trello ticket in the sprint board. Here features are broken down by ticket and they maintain an easy to follow comments thread. No more missed emails by half of the team because they missed 1 important email.


In fact, ANY changes and clarifications go in there. Even if they’re copied and pasted from an IRC chat or written straight after a phone call. They go in there, so make a good habit of it.

That leaves an email replacement for day to day teamwork, transparency and cohesion which is best with daily Scrums on Google Hangouts, an IRC channel and some face to face time. The client may join in and “chicken” (no skin in the game) if they wish. It’ll give them more transparency on progress.

Do do transparency, but keep away from emails.

The Bristol Mayor’s Ideas Lab! Submit how much you hate car/bikes etc…

Here’s a welcome addition to George Ferguson’s aim to make Bristol a “Laboratory for change“. He’s taking the digital upper hand and released the “Bristol Idea’s Lab”, a Bristol Home brew delib product (

Delib logo

It’ll be interesting to see what starts getting shared on there, I imagine there’ll be the usual car vs. bike debacle. But in a city that has created traffic corridors based on Buchannan’s “Traffic in Towns” report (1960’s) it’s hardly surprising. Maybe a good idea would be to look at the work of Hans Monderman (1980’s Netherlands) and re-mix cars and people, then claim a few more areas for all transport to share and make the space not just for the efficient transport of motor vehicles. Architectural changes like raising the kerbs, making the place feel more natural and losing traffic lights. That could work well down near Mr Wolfs and a few of the side streets.

Either way, in a city that is constantly claiming to be a UK digital beacon with larger digital companies like e3, Team rubber and the new start ups in the games lab and pervasive media I’m hoping it’ll see a large response. However, we’ll begin to see how digitally enabled the public is and whether we really need a rural broadband project (

Here’s some important questions though, I wonder if the data from the consultation ideas will be declared “Open data” and shared for all, or closed for a period? Also, how many ideas will be bumped in-front of George Ferguson’s eyes and how many will actually be acted on.

Anyways, good luck to it, go get your Bristol thoughts on there where it’ll be read by someone, rather than bending the dude next to you’s ear on the bus or in the pub.

NHS I.T revolution… as in “here I.T goes again”?

Ha ha, what a pun, the daily hate mail would be proud, anyway.

Our government is intending to spend £1 billion in a hi tech re-vamp of the NHS. That’s great news, super efficiencies, better tools and a hi tech hospital… But we’ve been here before, yes.


[photo from:]

Let’s ask, what have people have learnt from, the previous failed NHS I.T. project already? Will the contractors be required to use Scrum & Agile methodology? Who is going to set the user stories? Is it the staff or someone far removed from the system, like Michael Gove re-writing the curriculum?

Someone needs to check the proposals and check contractors have got the right skills this time and we don’t see this headline again in 15 years only with a larger figure… “£12bn NHS computer system is scrapped…”].

consider training the kick-ass staff be more technically efficient

Also, while you’re there, consider training the kick-ass staff be more technically efficient, spend on some basic computer training. I was speaking with an NHS friend who described staff not knowing how to use USB sticks to transfer files to a computer 2 metres away. They were printing it then scanning it into the next one. Nope, that should not acceptable anymore in any workplace.


Your country needs you! To identify porn

Let’s make a small browser extension that every-time you “come across porn”, it adds it (anonomously) to a public database.

Your country needs you sexy


Then Browsers, ISPs and anyone can use that database to fliter porn, investigate illegal content. It’s a public filter database, we could also sell access to it to raise our state’s bank balance.

We’ll call it “PornDb”

I pretty sure that would stop us needing crappy state intervention and…  you’d definitely find an army of willing volunteers.


“Think with your tummy” Paddington Bear would say, migration is not a crime

There aren’t many stories of positive immigration to the UK. Will someone show them off please.

Somehow the popular talk is mediated by the Daily hate Mail, silly statistics based on less than 1% of the population and news channels which all talk of the EDL, benefit issues and “them”… “coming over here and stealing our jobs”. We see immigrants daily but are rarely reminded of the positive change immigration has always played on the UK.

As a country it might be said those channels their thoughts on a shared heritage with selective roots and our glamourised historical power over the world… which now apparently doesn’t involve actual people from other countries. Yes Britain, we did it all ourselves, the white classes, and don’t forget, that good deeds and change is bad!

There are few stories of how only 5% of working age immigrants claim benefits compared to 13% of Britons.

Immigrants are less likely to claim benefits than British citizens.

There are few positive stories in the public mindset of the hard working immigrated Sryian families seeking asylum in Britain. How their children are progressing well in school and learning English as a second language.

A+ Excellent
A+ Excellent

There are few thoughts relating to our awesome culture and food. British Indian and British Chinese food didn’t “just happen”. Change is good and can benefit us all… and our tummies.

British Indian and British Chinese food didn’t “just happen”

I’m not saying look at immigration with rose tinted glasses but so far we’re mostly deciding to look through Daily Hate Mail glasses. So before we rush into decisions for the 2015 election, a kickstarter project or two would help show with stories and facts how immigration is a unfairly negatively marked identity and begin to equal the balance and conversation. We wouldn’t want to make any “short term-ist” bad decisions would we, that would make us the same as that silly politician we all despise wouldn’t it?

Maybe remind yourself of the above positive elements, choose to look forward to some more great food and let’s not to forget, “Migration is not a crime” the changes have been a pretty tasty good-deed so far.

Think with your tummy […] Migration is not a crime

MIgration is not a crime
Migration is not a crime


Free campaign idea: Give your children a 21st century head-start!

Facebook, Google, Angry Birds; all digital products we’ve heard of and probably use quite frequently. These are all products of success that have brought industry, jobs and prosperity to their local areas.

But did you know, your children attending one of the 28 Bristol North West primary schools could be learning the first basic skills of creating a digital product themselves?

(Dept of Education,(2010), 04/04/13)

[Your MP] is campaigning to give your children a 21st century head-start, by asking local businesses and Primary schools to work together and establish a free after-school activity, “Code Club”. The “Code Club” organisation, who are in partnership with Google, will teach the building blocks of computer programming (coding) to children by making games to share and play with other.

If coding still sounds a bit like gibberish and a bit alien, [Your MP] will be taking part in a session too which we’ll video and upload soon. But for now, enjoy Code Club’s official video.

Tags: Children, Education, Facebook, Big Society

Why? Potential Campaign Benefits of “Code Club”

  • Families are levelers across all constituency: Irrespective of wealth there are lots of families with young children. (6000+ Primary School children attending in the 28 NW Bristol schools)
  • Already established: Some Code Clubs are already running so we’re not re-inventing the wheel or backing a fragile organisation. It also ties in with the new Bristol Enterprise Zone.
  • New area: Code Club has not been publicly championed by an MP yet, just national papers.
  • Shareable: The children’s end product, which would be a game is VERY sharable by parents through email, school websites and social media. This will also promote the campaign and the positive difference it can make.


  • Coding would be a new area for you (I believe?)
    • Solution: In the first ‘Code Club’ it would be beneficial if you could join in and get some videos of you coding with the pupils.
  • New area for public, would they understand?
    • Solution: Talk more about skills / success of Facebook / Google coders. Associate that with what the pupils will be learning and benefiting from.


  • Start now, for more Code Clubs in the new Autumn term. Leave Summer free for a “Sports and Jess Ennis campaign”

Analysis of MP’s current position (and some assumptions)

This was relevant to the MP, so please complete your own here, I’ve left it in for clarity

  • Where you’re strong: I believe you may poll well with 35-54 (32% of constituency) home owners, males and females, as you come across as a strong female role model.
  • A long term campaign is needed: Frequency of news updates and tone make it appear you will be standing again for Bristol North West for the 2015 election.
  • Something non “working adult”: Current campaigns on the site are adult focussed. Trains, College, EU Parliament, Beer.
  • A campaign for a mixed constituency: Bristol North West is a very mixed constituency in terms of wealth and living environment; Lockleaze / Horfield / Avonmouth.


“For too long computing has meant training kids in skills to become administrators with word processing and spreadsheets. There’s other paths computing should lead you on, like inventing Twitter or Facebook, creating your local charity or campaign websites…”

“If I asked you to follow a food recipe, you could, because you learnt in home ec. But if you have an idea for an app or a website, you couldn’t do much about it except ask for help. It’s a restrictive bottle neck on you and our country’s growth”

“Who hasn’t had an idea for an app or website but then hasn’t been able to do anything about it? Let’s start teaching our kids how to make apps and websites so their entrepreneurial ideas can come to fruition”

“It’s restrictive on EVERYBODY’s entrepreneurial skills that when you have a cool idea for an app, you can’t do anything about it. But say if you have a cool idea for a dinner, you’re able to make it.”

What is this all about?

This is a campaign idea produced for a prized job in Charlotte Leslie MP‘s busy office. I’m sharing it in the spirit of openness as I couldn’t take the post due to work commitments and I think it’s still bloody good idea. Chop and change stats and names as necessary, just don’t forget it came from first 🙂

This is my first local MP campaign idea. Find me on linkedin as I’m interested in finding a role working for a campaign machines of the 2015 general election