🎶 The Kinks’ 20th Century Man has been my earworm for the past few days. What a song. Half a century old and it still resonates.

This Ray Davies live version is superb:

This is the age of machinery
A mechanical nightmare
The wonderful world of technology
Napalm, hydrogen bombs, biological warfare

Weeknotes #213 — Retinal detachment

Also no deep-sea diving allowed.
Also no deep-sea diving allowed.

After our family dinner last Saturday night, my wife said that she thought she had something in her eye that she couldn’t shift. I had a look but couldn’t see anything. It was casting a bit of a shadow at the bottom of her vision. As a precaution, she made an appointment with the optician and went along on Monday afternoon.

Our worst fears were confirmed. The ophthalmologist told her that her retina had started to become detached and that she needed urgent attention. They handed her a referral letter and told her to head straight to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage without delay. We weren’t sure what would happen next, so I left my office in London to get the train there too, just in case she had any kind of procedure which meant that she couldn’t drive home again. A train and taxi ride later, we bumped into each other at the hospital reception; a grumpy receptionist told her to come back the next evening, without any kind of examination and despite protestations that she had an urgent problem. It was stressful — everything we read had told us that it was a race against time to get it fixed. So we made a plan to jump into the car early the next morning and head over to the Ophthalmology department at Stoke Mandeville hospital.

The experience at Stoke Mandeville was amazing. We didn’t need to wait long before she was examined and the diagnosis confirmed. They booked her in for surgery first thing the next day. She was now under instructions to go home and rest, minimising movement for the rest of the day to prevent it from getting worse. When we got home we called a couple of private consultants to see if she could be seen any faster, but everyone advised us that waiting until the next day was the best we could do.

We were back at the hospital even earlier on Wednesday, ready for the operation. It’s not a difficult decision to make between losing your sight in one eye and having a medical procedure, but my wife amazed me how she took it all in her stride. The work is all done under local anaesthetic, so you are completely aware of what’s happening as its done. They start with a vitrectomy, where they remove all of the jelly-like vitreous humour from the centre of the eyeball. They then repair the damaged retina with a laser and freezing treatment, before filling the eyeball with a gas to keep the repaired retina in place. The gas means that you can’t do anything that involves any kind of change of pressure. It sounds dreadful. It was all over in an hour or so.

She was told to keep her head facing downwards towards her lap for ten hours, and afterwards to make sure that she get as much rest as possible and sleeps on one particular side, so that the gas bubble continues to push against the repaired part of the retina. Tablets to relieve the swelling and pressure were accompanied by three types of eye drops which need to be administered four times a day. Currently she has no vision out of that eye and will only know how well the repair has gone in the next two to four weeks. Over time, the gas bubble dissipates and is replaced naturally by fluid again. We have our fingers crossed. Unfortunately, most people that have a vitrectomy are guaranteed to develop a cataract within a few years after surgery and nobody knows why.

Why it happened is a mystery. Apparently it is more common for people that are short-sighted, but it seems quite random. I am so grateful that my wife got the urgent attention she needed and for the fantastic care that she has been given at the hospital. My colleagues have been amazing, offering lots of support and empathy where I’ve had to duck out of scheduled meetings at short notice. I feel very privileged to be in a position where something like this can happen and I am empowered to prioritise caring for my family over everything else. Our friends have been so lovely, with a steady stream of flowers and hampers arriving at our door.

Most of all I am so glad that my wife is now on the mend. It’s been an emotional week.

This was a week in which I:

  • Reviewed the work that has been done so far on our revamped change portfolio and roadmap.
  • Ran a password manager training session for one of our offices, along with our onboarding manager from the vendor. Only one office to go now.
  • Was pleased to hear that our proposal for unstructured data management was well-received by the Governance Committee. Now to put the wheels on it and get going.
  • Continued planning for an operating model review meeting scheduled for next week.
  • Took part in our weekly Learning Hour session where we experimented with the Lean Coffee format. The team really embraced it and we are now planning to make it a regular thing.
  • Met with the technical team to discuss a change required for new Android mobile users in our environment.
  • Suggested getting our small one or two person ‘booth’-style meeting rooms removed from the booking system. I’ve been nipping into these rooms quite a bit when I’ve been in the office. I’m not sure that everyone knows that they can be booked, so kicking someone out because you have booked it may not be well-received.
  • Caught up with the planning meeting for our annual investor conference.
  • Joined an internal Diversity and Inclusion forum for the first time. Discussed ways in which we can keep LGBTIQA+ staff safe and supported when they travel, as well as what it means to be an active bystander.
  • Had some brilliant and brave conversations in our management team meeting which got me thinking about the psychological safety of the team.
  • Took delivery of a Jabra Speak 2 75, a significant upgrade from the Jabra Speak 510 that I’ve been using fro the past few years. The addition of a light on the device which gives you visual feedback on how clearly you can be heard is a genius idea.
  • Attended a very interesting webinar by Leesman on A Decade of Change, showing workplace trends over the past ten years. It may be obvious to some, but I didn’t realise that London is so much bigger from a commercial real estate perspective than anywhere else in the country. If companies find that they have too much space and there is a trend to downsize, that’s potentially a lot of floor space coming onto the market.
  • Along with our Interim Headteacher, met with a consultant at HFL Education on how we can further market the school’s Nursery.
  • Attended a very worthwhile in-person training session on Knowing Your School with the rest of our Governing Board.
  • Started preparation for the school Full Governing Board meeting next week. Our Chair is on holiday, so I’m in the hot seat.
  • Skipped the Saturday morning cycling club ride as I wanted to maximise my time at home, making sure my wife is ok. Spent time on the indoor trainer instead. For the first time I can remember, I started to get knee and hip pain; I’m hoping that some small adjustments to the saddle and handlebar positioning will be able to dial those out.
  • Ran the line at my eldest son’s last home match of the season. A complete mud-fest.
  • Mowed three quarters of the back lawn for the first time this year, before a big rain shower stopped me in my tracks. I was very glad that this frog (or toad?) didn’t end up in the lawnmower. You know your lawn is long when you have animals of this size hiding in it.

Next week: Presenting to the whole office, and running a full governing board meeting for the first time in a while.

Weeknotes #212 — Spattered

I walk past this office block on my way to work. There’s always such sad beauty in seemingly abandoned buildings. I wonder what it was like when it was shiny and new.

I walk past this office block on my way to work. There’s always such sad beauty in seemingly abandoned buildings. I wonder what it was like when it was shiny and new.

Even by recent standards, this was an extremely busy week. Not stressful per se, just so much crammed into it so that it felt like an endurance event. Experience told me that a planned train strike for Thursday may mean that the service might could also be a little suspect on Wednesday and Friday, so I front-loaded my time in the office to the first two days. The days were super long.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had to move my planned Don’t Get Hacked presentation to the London office back by a week due to a clash with a board meeting.
  • Ran the presentation for the penultimate office and followed up by inviting the staff to join the new password management tool. They didn’t hold back with their questions; it was immensely satisfying to see everyone so engaged with the topic.
  • Met with a front office colleague to workshop an approach to revamp how we manage certain types of document using standard Microsoft tools. We’ve collaborated on a set of slides to be taken to a senior governance forum next week.
  • Caught up with one of the teams that are impacted by the document management approach and was pleased to hear that they see no showstoppers for what we want to do.
  • Completed preparation for the first steering committee meeting for an initiative we are running with a sister organisation. Attended the first recurring working group meeting for the same programme.
  • Took part in our information risk review meeting, giving updates on where we are with our password manager rollout and other topics.
  • Attended the monthly departmental risk review meeting.
  • Joined a meeting with colleagues in the Legal department to talk about one of our client management systems and where they need to be involved in the changes that we are making.
  • Had a brief catch-up with the Marketing and Communications team ahead of the big Don’t Get Hacked presentation in just over a week’s time.
  • Caught up with a colleague who was spending the week in one of our other offices. Hearing about the technical issues that she found reinforced to me that there can sometimes be no substitute to going somewhere in person.
  • Joined a very early morning meeting to refine a number of statements on the culture of our wider technology department ahead of a workshop next week.
  • Had a number of meetings with our school leaders on various topics, and arranged an in-person training session for the board for next week.
  • Along with the rest of the Governing Board, attended a Meet The Ofsted Inspector training course for a mock grilling. Many years ago, we attended this course in person without understanding exactly what it was — it was a shock to come face-to-face with three stern-looking trainers who were all in character for the first half of the session, with us woefully unprepared for their questions. We were better prepared this time, but know that there is always more we can do ahead of it happening for real.
  • Chaired the school Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee meeting at school.
  • Interviewed a prospective new school governor. We’ve recently been having great success in using the Inspiring Governance service. It’s amazing that there are so many people out there who are willing to volunteer.
  • Had an electrician come to our house to finally resolve a few issues. We now have a working immersion heater, a new extractor fan in the bathroom and an outside light switch no longer trips the circuit breaker.
  • Enjoyed a weird but fun Friday night out at Chesham Grammar School for their annual comedy night. Compèred by Alex Horne, it was a strange mixture of great comedy with drinks and fish and chips in a school sports hall. The headline act was John Robins; I spent most of the first half of his set wondering where I knew his voice from, with the first thought that he had a very similar voice to one of my friends. Then it hit me — he’s one of the regulars on the superb Queenpod, which I’ve been spending a lot of time with over the past few months. It turns out that he’s quite famous, and I’m very out of touch with pop culture.
  • Had a lovely family dinner at Lussmanns in Berkhamsted. I think that it might be my favourite restaurant in our town. All of the food is delicious, with a lot of thought put into sourcing the ingredients.
  • Ran the line at my eldest son’s football match. Unfortunately he only got to play for 15 minutes before coming off with a nasty gash from a stud on his knee. I like Strava’s heatmap view for events like this:

  • Experienced my muddiest ever bike ride on Saturday morning with the cycling club. Despite everyone having mudguards fitted, there was nothing I could do to avoid getting spattered as I rode behind others in the group. At one point I ran out of clean parts of my gloves that I could use to wipe away the dirt from my mouth, and every time I closed my jaw I could feel a crunch between my teeth. It was fun though —once you’re wet and dirty, it doesn’t matter about getting even more wet and dirty.

  • Took delivery of some Ubiquiti Unifi Protect door chimes after my custom-built Home Assistant version suddenly stopped working. I figured that buying dedicated devices would prove to be more reliable than my cobbled-together YAML scripts. Out of the box the devices are a bit disappointing; we have two Unifi doorbells and each chime can only pair with one of them, and you can’t change the sound of the chime. Having said that, everything I have previously bought in the Unifi Protect range has got significantly better after I purchased it via firmware updates. I’m hopeful that the chimes will follow the same path.
  • Indulged myself through watching the latest video from Elliot Roberts, ranking all of George Harrison’s albums from worst to best. Although I had some minor quibbles with some of the rankings, I think he’s broadly spot on. I found myself grinning at some of the wonderful detail that he found in the songs. My favourite album of all time — let alone favourite George Harrison album — remains Living In The Material World from 1973, and it was great to see it chart so highly.

  • Enjoyed the second Formula One race of the season, despite it lacking any significant action points. If the comments immediately after the race are anything to go by, it looks as though the rivalry to watch will be the one between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

Next week: Hoping for a quieter, head-down kind of week.

Weeknotes #211 — Wrist

Dot matrix information signs have recently been replaced with full colour ones at the station. Just because something is high resolution doesn’t mean you should just cram more things on there. The sign is barely readable unless you’re directly under it.

Dot matrix information signs have recently been replaced with full colour ones at the station. Just because something is high resolution doesn’t mean you should just cram more things on there. The sign is barely readable unless you’re directly under it.

Here in the UK, temperatures plummeted again and we found ourselves living through frozen mornings and snow showers. The week was very busy; I ended up having to spend some of Saturday catching up with some of the tasks that I hadn’t had time to complete by Friday. Next week looks just as hectic.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had a bizarre pain in my right wrist, seemingly caused by nothing in particular. I’ve never had repetitive strain injury or anything similar, so it was a bit weird. On Monday and Tuesday it hurt so much that I reached for the paracetamol, but by the end of the week it had completely gone. Things got weird when a colleague told me he had exactly the same thing, along exactly the same timeline.
  • Gave my Don’t Get Hacked presentation to two of our offices. Both sessions went really well, with lots of engagement and questions from the attendees. We rolled out our password manager to the teams immediately afterwards. I am hoping that by giving people context as to why we are doing it we will get many more people enrolling and using the tool.
  • Spent a lot of time putting together a couple of slide decks to be used for an impromptu project that has been set up to address some specific issues. Met with the representatives of the working group that has been assembled to coordinate responses to the problems and made further changes based on the feedback they gave me.
  • Had to join an all-day workshop with senior technology leaders across our organisational division. We are still two hours behind Johannesburg until the end of the month, so the session started at 6:30am. It was also scheduled for a day where I had to go into the office for other reasons, and was snowing heavily. I started off by being on video on my phone at home as I wrestled my coat on, wandered to the station with my hands freezing as I held my phone in front of me, then switched to an iPad on the train, back to the phone when I got to London and then on my laptop in the office. It was a very janky experience with patchy network connections and device handoffs in Teams, but if the me of 20 years ago was told that I would be able to be on a videoconference on my commute to the office, my mind would have been blown.
  • Took part in an operating model review for our department, along with my colleagues in the management team. We aren’t done yet, but we made a good start.
  • Met with an internal software architect based in Johannesburg to go through the idea that we have for how we can manage our unstructured data. I’m still looking for someone to tell me why the approach won’t work as it seems such a simple solution, but I haven’t found a showstopper yet.
  • Ran through some revised internal dashboards for interrogating the Microsoft Teams and private channels that staff are members of. One of my colleagues was new to the conversation, and brought some excellent thinking about what good could look like.
  • Started a discussion on a development/product roadmap for our Cybersecurity team.
  • Baselined our department’s financial forecast for the year, effectively giving us a budget to work against.
  • Contributed to the monthly Governance Committee pack for one of our legal entities.
  • Had my weekly catch-up with our Marketing and Communications team and agreed the final details for the big Don’t Get Hacked presentation in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Started to prepare for a review of our Team Charter which is planned for next Wednesday.
  • Joined an early morning feedback session for architecture decisions that have been made in the senior governance forums in the past month.
  • Attended a town hall-style meeting in our London office to hear about our annual results, which were fantastic. We heard from one of the senior business leaders of our organisation who happened to be in town; I was blown away by his presentation, particularly as he spoke about APIs and microservices with some authority and could articulate the need to adapt our systems architecture for the future. It was the first meeting in our large collaboration space since we revamped the technology to make it a fully-fledged Teams meeting room for hybrid sessions, and it worked brilliantly.
  • Enjoyed our weekly Learning Hour session with an external guest who spoke to us about renewable energy schemes in developing economies.
  • Attended Digital Showcase Friday to learn about our Investor Insights platform.
  • Had a short Random Coffee with one of my colleagues in the Engineering team.
  • Joined everyone from our London office for drinks and food at a local bar, the first time we have all got together since Christmas.
  • Watched with admiration as once again Sharon O’Dea took companies to task on LinkedIn as they posted their commitment to gender equality on International Women’s Day, whereas in reality they have substantial gender pay gaps.
  • Started paying more for train tickets, with a return to London increasing from £25.50 to £27. Tube fares in Zone 1 also went up from £2.50 to £2.70. I’m just grateful that I no longer have an annual season ticket, which now costs an incredible £5,864.
  • Had a meeting with a representative from Hertfordshire County Council to discuss strategies how we can improve on the number of children applying for nursery places. We have a few things that we can try.
  • Attended the HFL Education Chairs Strategic Information Briefing. There is always so much good content.
  • Met with our personal financial advisor for the first time in a while. It’s reassuring to know that we have someone who is keeping an eye on things for us as we plan for our future.
  • Enjoyed two album club nights, hosting one online with a few friends from work and going to another in person on Friday night. I chose The Who’s Quadrophenia, which is the first album of theirs that I ever got into. It was wonderful to sit down and listen to it closely the whole way through.
  • Continued to make my way through Chris Packham’s Fingers In The Sparkle Jar. I don’t think I’ve read an autobiography quite like it.
  • After a week of gentle ‘recovery’ indoor riding, took part in the Berkhamsted Cycle Club Spring Classic reliability ride. The weather had warmed up a little, and stayed almost completely dry throughout. It’s a much tougher ride than it looks on paper, with big headwinds to deal with, but I felt better than when I did the same ride last year.

  • Enjoyed a lovely dinner out with some close friends at Per Tutti in Berkhamsted. They serve lovely, simple, delicious Italian food. We had a table booked before 7pm and I think it’s the way forward — it’s was great to be back at home with a little bit of evening to spare.

Next week: A train strike, a school governor meeting, some school governor training, a presentation and a comedy night.

Weeknotes #210 — Sit bones

A four-day week as I took Friday off for my wife’s birthday. Work is ramping up. For the first time in a while I found myself picking my laptop up again in the evenings, trying to wrestle a few things forward.

On the one day I worked from home my two boys both had the day off school due to a teacher strike. There are more to come later in the month.

March has started with a cold snap, with snow forecast for next week. I’m back to wearing multiple jumpers around the house as we try to keep the thermostat down.

This was a week in which I:

  • Ran through my Don’t Get Hacked presentation another couple of times, with our CEO and our Head of Global Markets. The material is very well-received and I feel as though I’m ready to deliver the presentations to the wider audiences over the next three weeks.
  • Discussed the short data management proposal that I put together, with a growing set of colleagues from across the organisation. I am waiting for someone to flag a showstopper issue with what I have proposed, but so far nothing has come up. The work could be transformational. It requires very little technology but lots of persuading people to work in a slightly different way, which may actually be more difficult.
  • Joined an impromptu technology strategy meeting.
  • Set up a meeting for next week for a new project that I am participating in with colleagues from other divisions of the organisation.
  • Met with our audio/visual vendor to discuss the upgrade and simplification of two of our key internal meeting rooms.
  • Felt privileged to be invited as a guest speaker to our People and Culture department’s strategic workshop. My first job out of university was working in an investment bank’s Human Resources IT department for nearly seven years; I’m still in contact with my wonderful colleagues from that time, and lent on them as I gathered my thoughts ahead of this week’s session. It felt like a very productive conversation.
  • Met with colleagues to review the operating model of one of our sub-teams and to talk about succession planning.
  • Caught up with the recording from the monthly Architecture Community of Practice meeting. Playing meetings back at 1.5x speed is a game-changer.
  • Attended our quarterly architecture governance authority meeting and reported back on why we did not proceed with the ‘location broadcasting tool’ that we trialled over the past few months.
  • Enjoyed this week’s internal Learning Hour session on the Banking Tech Awards that a colleague attended on our organisation’s behalf.
  • Attended a short training session on cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of a defibrillator. It was my first encounter with the inflatable ‘mini Annie’ trainers, which were really effective and can be easily stored away in large numbers.
  • Watched the third and final instalment of Ivar Jacobson’s Organising Around Value webinar series. I liked the sentiment on the ‘minimum viable bureacracy’:

  • Reviewed options for my school’s supplier of Occupational Health services and an Employee Assistance Programme.
  • Had a lovely day off for my wife’s birthday. A slightly lazy morning was followed by lunch at Crockers in Tring. The food was delicious, but the restaurant felt quite empty.
  • Started to get used to the new indoor bike trainer. My first proper training session started out feeling much too easy, so I ended up completing it at 115% of my measured FTP. I’ve since bumped it up so that future workouts should be more in-line with what I’m used to. My FTP is now about 60 watts higher than it was on the old ‘wheel on’ trainer, which makes me think that the old figure was meaningless as an absolute measure. On Sunday I did a two-hour ride, with my sit-bones wincing at me after 90 minutes. The reviews of the trainer are very complimentary about the saddle, so I’m now wondering whether I need to refresh my bib shorts.
  • Enjoyed Saturday morning’s bike club ride. It felt very cold, and added to the list of reasons I was giving myself not to get up on Sunday for the Verulam Cycling Club Reliability Ride. By Saturday night I was completely exhausted; I dragged myself up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire just after 9pm. I’m signed up for our own club’s reliability ride next Sunday but the weather doesn’t look great from here.
  • Wandered down to the cricket club to watch the Berkhamsted five mile fun run and half marathon. My eldest boy took part in the fun run and was hoping for a win, but felt dizzy and had to stop when he was halfway round.

  • Welcomed the Formula One season back for 2023. It was so great to see Alonso do so well with his third place finish. It’s interesting how he’s turned from pantomime villain to hero in the past few seasons.

Next week: Back to five days again. Delivering the Don’t Get Hackedpresentation to two of our offices, and joining two album clubs.

Implications of the Twitter layoffs on all technology departments?

I’ve been pondering: does the fact that Twitter is still functioning set expectations for business executives, who will think it’s fine to slash a technology budget and still expect core services to remain? Will they be asking “what were all these IT staff doing all day”?

We know that the service is creaking and has some major problems, but the headline is that Musk slashed the workforce from 7,500 to 1,800 and it is still chugging along months later.

Weeknotes #209 — Stages

Delicious pavlova, cooked by my youngest son as part of his Duke of Edinburgh course.
Delicious pavlova, cooked by my youngest son as part of his Duke of Edinburgh course.

I’m enjoying myself. Work is really busy, but it’s fun. There is never enough time to do everything, but every day has seen progress with the initiatives that I am running with. It feels good.

Quote of the week comes from a colleague who sagely commented that “There is no ‘business and technology’, only the technology of business.” Every time I see ‘the business’ and IT separated in a written artefact, or the phrase is dropped into conversation, I think about what I read in Mark Schwartz’s A Seat at the Table. Working to get rid of the old way of thinking is going to take many years.

This was a week in which I:

  • Continued with my individual meetings to give my Digital Literacy: Don’t Get Hacked presentation to senior leaders. I’ve now covered almost everyone, and have their full support. I made even more tweaks to the deck based on the feedback and am now very well-rehearsed for delivering it to a larger audience. I’ve locked in dates to present to each of our four offices in turn, culminating with an in-person presentation in London towards the end of March. I feel more excited than nervous.
  • Picked up a new project to coordinate some risk mitigation work. Had a couple of meetings to explore the issues and what can be done to solve them.
  • Reviewed the outcome of an RFP that we have been running over the past few months.
  • Met with a colleague to talk about how we can improve the on-boarding experience for new joiners in the organisation. Learnt a lot about what is being done behind the scenes to make the existing experience as good as it is.
  • Coordinated the second end-user training session for our password management tool, for our Engineering team. I need to think about how we will offer these sessions to the rest of the organisation when we go live.
  • Attended the first in a series of roadmap planning sessions for our department. We may need to do the work in two passes.
  • Ran our bi-weekly management team meeting. We’ve decided to rotate the chair as well as the preparation of materials; it was my turn to go first.
  • Enjoyed our weekly Learning Hour meeting, hosted by our CTO, on the topic of our architecture.
  • Had an impromptu check-in with some colleagues in the office at the end of the day on Monday. We covered a lot of bases. It was the sort of gathering that would never happen accidentally if we were all working from home.
  • Completed all of the pre-reading for, and attended, our school Full Governing Board meeting. At the meeting I let the board know that I will be stepping down as a school governor at the end of the summer term, having been a board member for a decade. With a new headteacher joining the school from September, it feels like the right time for me to move on.
  • Had a lovely random drink with another member of the governing board. I can’t remember the last time that I spontaneously ended up in a pub.
  • Took delivery of a smart bike trainer to replace my indoor training bike that recently died. The company were at pains to say that the delivery wouldn’t go any further than the hallway, and when it turned up I could see why. The box weighed around 75kg, so we had to unpack it where it landed and take it to its final resting place piece by piece. After spending Saturday evening assembling it, I’ve tried it out for a couple of rides. So far, so good.
Ridiculously heavy.
Ridiculously heavy.
  • Went out for a couple of morning runs due to having no indoor exercise equipment. It was good to get out multiple times in a row and to start to feel ‘running fit’, without walking around like John Wayne for a couple of days afterwards. I find it quite a difficult habit to keep up, particularly in winter as the indoor trainer is always more tempting than getting out in the cold.
  • Decided to delay Saturday morning’s club ride by an hour due to the risk of ice. We’re into that spring period where it can be very cold overnight but very lovely when the sun shines. Five of us went out in a group for a great ride. About 10km from home I was struggling to keep up and found that I had a slow flat. Fortunately for me, one of the group knew of a nearby cycle shop where I could borrow a track pump to fill it with enough air to see me home. It turned out that the owner is the person who sold me my last road bike back in 2013.

Next week: In the office for most of the week, with a day off on Friday.

Weeknotes #208 — Dead bike

A week stuffed to the brim with meetings. I’ve not been sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night each night to check the time, mildly panicking that I’ve overslept. I’m not sure why.

The bike that I bought back in 2013, which had recently been relegated to indoor training only, finally died. It left me with no means of riding indoors. So on Friday morning I dragged myself out of bed to go for a run. I’ve ordered an indoor bike trainer but have no idea when it will be delivered; I may be running for a while yet.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had a number of meetings with senior leaders in the business to take them through my ‘Digital Literacy: Don’t Get Hacked’ presentation. Presenting the material over and over again is making it better, as I am incorporating feedback and refining the delivery as I go. Everyone so far has been completely supportive. I have a few more lined up for next week and then need to lock in a date for presenting the material to the rest of the organisation at a kick-off event.
  • Completed writing the first draft of a proposal for how we can standardise our management of unstructured data, potentially enhancing the experience of our key clients as we go, for very little technology investment. I realise that I do a lot of my thinking out loud in written form, but this isn’t how many people want to consume it, so we’ll probably need a meeting to walk through the key points.
  • Reviewed a PowerBI report that we have developed for some rudimentary insights into the Teams and private channels that staff have set up. We have plans to enhance and expand it.
  • Used our weekly Learning Hour for a colleague to present the concept of our new portfolio roadmap with our department. The team are never reluctant to share their thoughts and opinions and we had an excellent discussion which gave us lots to think about. We will probably end up having the roadmap in two places — in our Kanban tool so that work can be directly linked and traced to the roadmap, as well as in a more presentable format elsewhere.
  • Closed out on the ‘location broadcasting tool’ project after speaking to the vendor. It’s a beautiful, functional tool, but we weren’t ready for it. After a vote in our team meeting, we’ve reverted to using a Teams chat channel for ambient knowledge on where everyone is every week.
  • Took part in our internal annual review of services from our SD-WAN network provider as we approach our renewal date.
  • Organised the first session of end-user training for our password management tool. The session was excellent; even those people who have used this specific tool for many years said that they learnt some new things.
  • Attended a meeting to review and reflect on the internal product journey that the team have gone on so far, and what they had delivered.
  • Joined the final weekly project meeting for the closure of one of our regional offices. There are still things to do, but no need for us all to get together on a regular basis anymore.
  • Attended the second of three webinars from Ivar Jacobson on  Organizing Around Value, this time on Development Value Stream Patterns. Brian Tucker has an excellent and engaging delivery style, but when I watch this kind of presentation I always feel that I want to dig into specifics of my environment instead of keeping things at a generic high-level.

  • Joined a Better Value Sooner Safer Happier meetup for a presentation on Architecting for Outcomes with Simon Rohrer. He had some excellent thoughts on the role, patterns and outcomes relating to Enterprise Architecture in a modern delivery organisation. I put in an appearance to ask a question at around the 33m30s mark, which Simon very kindly answered.

  • Briefly attended the first part of an internal webinar with Randy Conley on the topic of Unleash The Leader Within.
  • Caught up with a colleague and friend who now runs our API Marketplace.
  • Enjoyed listening to an Arcade Fire album for the first time at an online Album Club night. I didn’t fall in love with the music, but it was lovely to have an evening to listen to something I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up on my own.
  • Enjoyed a lovely long cycling club ride on Saturday morning, with only one puncture in our group.
  • Ran the line at my eldest son’s football match.

  • Was given a couple of lovely random gifts from a friend: Rodrigo Y Gabriela’s Live: Manchester and Dublin album as well as Randall Munroe’s What If? 2.
  • Started reading Project to Product by Mik Kersten. So far so good, but I have my fingers crossed that the book doesn’t concentrate wholly on software development. There seems to be so little literature out there that speaks to how you can apply modern product, agile and lean thinking to the non-software development aspects of running a Technology team.

Next week: Another packed calendar with a surprisingly free Thursday (that I probably need to block out before more meetings end up there).

📚 Finished reading The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman. An incredible memoir of a Jewish man who somehow survives years in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War 2. I saw the film years ago; his encounter with Wilm Hosenfeld, a merciful German soldier who keeps him alive through his kindness, is a relatively small part of the book. Extracts from Hosenfeld’s diaries and an additional epilogue add significant context to the story:

“You can’t help wondering again and again how there can possibly be such riff-raff among our own people. Have the criminals and lunatics been let out of the prisons and asylums and sent here to act as bloodhounds? No, it’s people of some prominence in the State who have taught their otherwise harmless countrymen to act like this. Evil and brutality lurk in the human heart. If they are allowed to develop freely they flourish, putting out dreadful offshoots, the kind of ideas necessary if the Jews and the Poles are to be murdered like this.” — Wilm Hosenfeld

🚴‍♀️ Getting a flat tyre on an indoor turbo trainer is rare, but it happens. This morning is the first time I’ve ever snapped a derailleur hanger though. Ride over. 😢