Work has been hard over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get each member of the team to focus on planning their piece of the programme, with enough detail considered in their plans for us to get confident that we can deliver by the dates that we need to. I know that you can’t suddenly make a project manager out of everyone overnight. Each person will need some assistance with planning, seeing the bigger picture and making sure that we have captured any dependencies. We don’t have time to suddenly stop and all learn to implement an agile technique across the team; as we are putting in planned infrastructure and into building a software product I am not sure that the agile methods that are within easy reach would even be appropriate. The problem is that the task is so large that there has to be a ‘divide and conquer’ approach instead of just taking lots of time to build a plan from the bottom up. I’m hoping to bring on a project/implementation manager soon to help with getting into the minute detail, so that I can continue to focus on the broader programme.
I put a lot of preparation into an important meeting between my client and their incumbent vendor, the aim of which was to make sure we were aligned on our goals and budgets for next year. What we are doing will have a knock-on impacts that they need to plan for and I anticipated a tricky conversation. All of the prep was worth it — the meeting was a success and we are all lined up. Now it’s just up to us to make it happen. I’m determined that we won’t fail.
I (re?)learned a good lesson of making sure to stop and take a step back when times are busy and not just charge at everything. On my morning commute, churning my way through emails, I saw a notification of a change someone in the broader IT group planned to make that day. I went straight into reactive mode, looking at how we could minimise the impact to our users. It was late in the day where I realised that the right thing to do would have been to stop and asking whether the change was valid in the first place. We managed to halt it and the problem was averted. I could have used that energy on something else.
Everyone in our house was worn out after the People’s Vote March weekend. It took us some time to recover from the walking and mental stress and excitement of wandering the streets with our placards. A week after the march I ended up going down with a cold and battled all week with a runny nose, watery eyes and a feeling that my general existence was being taxed. Working at home on Monday helped — I spent my day in the house with two jumpers, a scarf and regular paracetamol-laced hot lemon drinks. I’m sure the South Africans that joined me on videoconferences throughout the day thought I was a strange sight, particularly as they start to reach the height of their summer.
Last term, after many years, we said goodbye to our School Improvement Partner. A couple of weeks ago I took a half day off from work to go to school and meet his replacement, get feedback from their visit to our school and then to go through the end-of-year Headteacher appraisal process. Our meeting ended up going for a marathon four hours but it was so valuable to get her insight and feedback. It was amazing to see the world through the eyes of an expert, who could tell us what conclusions she was drawing and pointing out the evidence to back her views. The most valuable feedback is always about the things that you can improve on; we are lucky to have such a reflective and driven senior leadership team at the school, who are receptive to receiving this kind of input. I am sure that they will take on the challenges that have been highlighted and drive the school to further success.
My cold brought with it a sense of lethargy and I found my interest in things waning. This only seems to happen to me when I am ill or massively overtired. Getting old and sick would worry me immensely if it meant I would end up spending lots of time with no passion to listen to podcasts or music, read books etc. I hope that time doesn’t come.
The boys and I continue to plough through Star Trek: The Next Generation when we get the time. We’re just about to start season five. The episodes are well into their stride and season four has definitely been the best so far. When the series was on BBC2 and Sky One in the early 1990s I only caught a few of them and I am sure that I watched a lot of them out of order. It’s interesting to see now many references there are to other episodes and how many storylines make a reappearance, whether it is Picard’s famous encounter with the Borg, Worf’s shamed family name, LaForge’s infatuation with the scientist who developed the warp drives for the ship, or references to Yar, the chief security officer who died in the first series. Wil Wheaton isn’t in the series as much as I remember. His character is now off training at Star Fleet Academy and I have no idea whether he will be back. The fact that we all really love the show is a real testimony to how good it is, almost 30 years after it was made.
Next week: Pushing the team on their plans and helping out where I can. Getting ready for the next round of governance meetings. A potentially long evening at a school governor meeting. And a rare day off work, to attend a training course on public speaking.