Weeknote #10 — Report of animals

I’ll cut to the chase — life is ridiculously busy right now. I’ve struggled to get a weeknote done over the past couple of weeks as things have ramped up. I suspect the solution is to go with a Matt Ballantine, Chris King or Dave Floyd-style set of bullets and still try to keep it away from the cryptic (as I need to be able to remember what I was on about even if nobody else does). So…

  • I’m drowning in email and am not effectively dealing with moving forward on all fronts. It’s not nice to be chased up on things. It felt so great a couple of weeks back to spend a whole Saturday catching up a little and having a big block of uninterrupted time to think and create; I worry that this ends up being the answer, having to do the strategic stuff outside of the usual hours.

  • Our software rollout is going reasonably well but I feel we are walking a fine line between ‘good enough for now’ and ‘too many niggles for too many people’. When you have someone at your desk saying that they have an issue which means they can’t work, you have to prioritise them over the strategic longer-term stuff. One or two users seem to have all of the problems and are doing their best to keep cool about it, but it’s hard. We need to invest in enough improvement in what people are using today in order to buy ourselves some more headroom to get other things done. I’m quietly confident that we know what to do and with some help from our suppliers we can make good progress over the coming week.

  • I completely missed someone feeling bad when they left one of my team meetings this week and only found out later. I think I can read people very well and had no idea at the time. When things like this happen, putting it right has to jump straight to the top of the list. We all need to feel valued, even more so when we put so much effort and pride into our work.

  • This week’s WB40 podcast interview mentioned the ‘chaos monkeys’ where IT teams deliberately inject random failures into the production system to ensure that it is resilient. No team I have worked in has ever come close to even considering the concept, let alone implementing it. I think you would have to be one hell of a high-performing team with a significant amount of senior management trust to be able to spend time and effort on it.

  • I still love being a school governor. It’s been a privilege this week to spend time with the Headteacher on her interim appraisal and to take stock of where we are. Most of our Governing Board worked together one evening this week in a facilitated session to review our self-evaluation; the bottom line is that we’re doing pretty well but are not standing still and want to continue to improve. We never usually get time to discuss and reflect on how we work as a group so it was great to do this.

  • Had a horrible sinking feeling on Monday night when I sent out materials for our governor meeting and couldn’t find any evidence of asking the team to put it in their diaries. Went to bed feeling terrible that I was so disorganised. Discovered the next day that I had let them know. Is this what getting old feels like?

  • I was flattered to be asked whether I’d like to consider becoming a Hertfordshire Leader of Governance but something tells me taking on even more things right now would be silly.

  • Books are my weakness. I was roped into a ‘12 issues for £12’ Economist subscription on my way to work because they waved a free book in my face. I bought and read magazines prolifically when I was a teenager and stopped when I life got filled up with everything else. Who has a spare few hours to flick though them anymore?

  • I’ve been up since 5:30am (4:30am in old money) to watch the first F1 race of the season. My eyes are now falling out of my head but it didn’t disappoint, there was enough action and drama to get us going. Having to subscribe to everything on Sky Sports just to watch the F1 is daylight robbery at effectively £20 a race but I do love it.

  • Personal fitness seems to have gone onto the back burner once more. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been on my bike due to work, ice and snow and I need to get my mojo back. Hoping that there will be some opportunities for some very long rides this year if I can fit them in.

  • On the other hand, my eldest boy’s fitness is ever improving. He ran to a fantastic 15th place in the English National Primary School Cross-Country final yesterday. It was a very long day for an 8-minute race, but we were thankful we didn’t have to make the journey from Cumbria, Cornwall or the Isle of Wight like some of the other teams, particularly with a report of animals for the journey home on the M1. Fantastic job by all the children. As great as the event is, the organisers seem hell-bent on creating a real festival atmosphere by providing just a dozen or so portaloos for 2,000 children and their parents with inevitable giant queues as a result.

  • Playing Forza Motorsport 6 online with a (cheap, ridiculously large) headset with three of my oldest pals is hilarious and very addictive. Had to scale it back after playing three nights in a row last weekend, but it will be great to dabble in this occasionally. I’ve never wanted a posh car but I’d now love a drive in a real-life BAC Mono.

  • Album Club remains The Best Night of the Month™. Listening to Let It Bleed for the first time ever, in great company, was just what I needed on Friday. Better start thinking hard about my next choice of album for when it’s my turn to host in a couple of months’ time.

Next week

  • A quart into a pint pot with one less day to get everything done in.
  • Two weeks to go with our London software rollout, hoping to turn a corner with our issues as we get on the home straight.
  • A South African and a Mosotho get out of London and come for lunch in rural Hertfordshire.
  • Two big governor meetings to prep for and contribute to.
  • Time to push to close out on all the vendor discussions we have been having over the past couple of months.
  • Email!

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