Weeknote #24 — High track temperatures

Hard to believe I was freezing here after work just a few weeks ago.

Hard to believe I was freezing here after work just a few weeks ago.

Scorching. All week my weather app has been showing the kind of unwavering forecast that you normally only see when you are looking ahead to a holiday somewhere near the equator.

Berkhamsted over the next week...

Berkhamsted over the next week…

Mrs D was away for most of the week on a Year 6 residential trip, which meant I had to work from home. I was very grateful to be able to spend my days in shorts and flip-flops, away from the stupefying heat of the London Underground and melting suburban railways.

Couldn’t help but feel grateful when these messages started coming through on Monday evening

Couldn’t help but feel grateful when these messages started coming through on Monday evening

It felt good to work at home. I spent most of it on audio or video conferences with people in the office and it didn’t make much of a difference from being there in person. I even ran our programme steering committee via video with the majority of the rest of the participants in one room. For some reason, being on video emboldened me to keep the meeting on task even more than I usually do; I felt very comfortable telling the room full of important people to take things offline as I was determined that we got through all of the decisions we needed to make. I’ll try and translate that to the next one when I’ll inevitably be in the same room.

The programme is started to get pushed from a number of sides. Finance are asking for details on exactly when we will be making changes to the ongoing cost profile of the organisation. Other senior teams in IT in Johannesburg are pushing us for technical details and challenging us on the approach we are taking. Particularly on the latter, we’ve had to dig in as a team and make sure that we are on solid ground with what’s e are doing. It feels painful at first, but all of this is good for us and will help to focus the team on the work ahead.

It was lovely to spend a bit more time with the boys and be involved with them more than I usually am. They were really great and generally helped me out a bit too. We spent a couple of evenings watching World Cup matches which meant slightly late nights, but with it being so hot I don’t think they would have got much more sleep if I sent them up to bed earlier. We spent Wednesday night at Watford track where my eldest boy ran the 1,500m; he did great, and was less than a second away from breaking the five minute barrier.

On Thursday Mrs D came back and we both went to school to watch his final primary school performance with the rest of Year 6. They were fantastic and all the parents had a brilliant time. It’s hard to believe that in just a few weeks he’ll be off to secondary school.

There’s so much going on over the next few weeks, both at work on the programme as well as for the end of term at school. Having back-to-back F1 Grand Prix each weekend and World Cup matches in the evenings isn’t helping! Am going to need to be very harsh with time to get it all done.

It’s been interesting to read Measure What Matters by John Doerr as the WB40 Book Club book for the past couple of weeks. It could be titled How To Set Great Objectives and Use Them To Excellent Effect Across Your Organisation as it is basically a masterclass in this process. Most people have objectives at work but typically they fall into an annual cycle and are generally despised. Doerr’s ‘Objectives and Key Results’ (OKRs) are very specific in how they are articulated, are visible at all times across the organisation and are typically reviewed every three months. He presents a compelling case. Trying to sell this as a way of working would need to push through the ‘but we do objectives already’ barrier, but I think it would be worthwhile as I can see that the benefits would be immense. The book talks about tools that people use to log OKRs and make them transparent but is light on the specifics; it would be great to know what applications there are and how successful teams have been at introducing this specific method aside from the many case studies in the book.

Next week: Reviewing vendor reports (quickly — I hate the ball being with me), more planning and weaving together a programme structure for the rest of the year, getting ready for another technical programme workshop in mid-July, catching up with a vast amount of governor work, a half-day on Wednesday to go to school and work on the School Development Plan for next year, and rounding the week off with yet another Album Club.

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