Weeknote #11 — Twenty times their own height

A five-day week goes by in a flash; a four-day one is supersonic. Another week where the urgent and tactical has tended to trump the important and strategic. There have been similar themes for the past few weeks; more than ever I’m conscious of repeating myself here and will try and avoid it.

  • Four weeks into a five week phase of our programme and I can feel the sense of the team being tired and flagging a little. A big push to get it over the line next week and we can then focus on the issues that have come up as well as the bigger aspects of the programme.
  • We coined the phrase ‘the ball of string’ for where we look to move one piece of technology and find it is attached to everything else. Getting this right is the crux of what we need to do and where I need to be pushing to spend most of my time.
  • Wrote an internal blog post to explain the complexities of where stuff lives once someone has switched over to the cloud. Good to have something written down that we can point to when questions start coming in. Conscious that the need to have the blog post is interesting in itself and that the system goes against the grain of ‘don’t make me think’.
  • When rolling out software to tens of thousands of people, problems become statistics. When it’s a very small number, every problem is significant and every bad experience is highly visible.
  • Had some interesting new problems turn up such as ‘why can’t I send one email to 1,336 people?’ and learning the limitations of the system. Software as a service means that we all have to play by the rules set by the vendor; this may hurt in the short term but will be simpler in the long term. Great to hear about users exploring the tools and thinking about how they can utilise new features that they never had before. I like all of these problems more than the “you broke my computer and I can’t work” one.
  • Still battling with having tons of strategic materials at my fingertips and so little time to be strategic. When most of your long-term thinking happens in meetings with vendors or on the weekend, you’re doing something wrong.
  • Trying to put a document in landscape format in order to fit more info into a table and finding it was already in landscape is the documentation equivalent of cycling uphill and being disappointed to find you’re already in first gear.
  • School governance meetings went well and were productive; I felt as though I did a good job of chairing the FGB meeting this week and the team asked lots of great questions. All wrapped up in good time.
  • Life with the cats remains challenging even after four years. Greeted by ‘the meow of doom’ in the evening as one of them brought a live mouse in, took it halfway up the stairs and then lost interest. I have never seen a mouse jump in the air before and we all let out a collective “aaargh!” when it did. Friday saw Mrs D have to clean up the remains of a wood pigeon that seemed to have exploded in our kitchen while we were out. I’m more resolved than ever that these will be the last pets we own.
  • My 10-year old has taken to making us cups of tea, and he’s pretty great at it. I was given a random cup of tea and a biscuit while I was on a conference call at home on Monday. This is a fantastic development.
  • Kids football has felt like a bit of a slog this season. Our U9s lost again on Sunday although they had some great chances and managed a goal. It was a first for us with one of our players getting a mild electric shock mid-game, from a fence as he retrieved a ball.
  • We had a lovely time with our South African visitors today. After four weeks of living in London it was great to be able to offer them lunch and a walk in the countryside. Seeing the place you are so used to through other people’s fresh eyes is brilliant.

Next week — a family birthday, an unusually-timed Album Club, another four-day week and the end of a significant phase of our programme.

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