Weeknote #12 — Turning a corner

A week of two halves, with a boat load more positivity, energy and optimism at the end compared to the start. Once again I had a vivid demonstration of the value in business travel and the benefits of being colocated around the right people for a period of time. One of our extended team members from Johannesburg was in town and his questioning helped me to focus exactly how we are going to wrestle the programme over the line. It only took a few questions, a bit of time in a meeting room with a whiteboard with some back and forth discussion and all of the pieces started to fit together. We have much of the draft work already done in one form or another and just need to stitch it together into an approach which we can play back to the rest of the organisation. The ‘ball of string’ problem suddenly feels doable. I can’t wait to get cracking on it. All of the other work hasn’t gone away and there is still a challenge to work on the real strategic stuff versus the here and now but I am sure we can do it.

We finished the software rollout in the London office and said goodbye to the team that flew in five weeks ago. They’ve done a fantastic job, methodically working their way through everyone in the office and responding to issues and questions in a rapid, calm and unfazed way. The technical work isn’t done but the rough edges of the software issues have been significantly smoothed by the way in which they did their jobs. Work can be tough and the issues frustrating, but it can still be both fun and rewarding when you have a great team.

I’ve found that users have a very low expectation for how well IT systems will work and have a certain degree of tolerance for problems. A small set of people seemed to have had a disproportionate share of issues but even they have been incredibly patient with the IT team — some have even bought us doughnuts and chocolate to say thanks for the time we have spent with them.

Our long Easter weekend was filled with friends and family, watching Black Panther at the cinema (7/10, I’m really not an action flick person), a dinner out for my son’s birthday and a get-together with my parents and brothers and all of our wives and children. Lovely. All rounded off with an unusually timed Album Club of the best kind — an album that I had always intended to listen to but had never got around to, which sounded great. It’s my turn next, so I’ve put the podcasts down for a bit and gone back to listening to a few albums from my shortlist to work out what I want to play.

I’m finishing this weeknote off at the athletics track where my 11yo is training. He ran an incredible 5:01 in the 1,500m in the Watford Open this week; we looked it up and found that he would have beaten the Women’s world record before July 1936! Wish I could have been there.

This weekend I need to get lots done for work again so that we’re ready for our next programme governance meeting on Tuesday, as well as fitting in time with the family and watching the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix. Somehow we’ll make it work.

Next week: So much to do, it’s going to be all about ruthless prioritisation and keeping my fingers crossed that the team can deal with any ongoing issues from the past five weeks. Strategic planning, a programme steering committee, a big push hard to finish our immediate vendor selection and detailed planning to roll software out into the next two offices.

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