So that was January. Over in the blink of an eye. I’m so glad that the days are starting to get noticeably longer. A few bulb shoots and crocuses have started to pop up in the back garden, so despite the recent snow it feels like spring is a little bit closer. I’m really looking forward to things warming up and spending some more time outdoors, even if it is just to have lunch in the back garden during the warmest part of the day.
It felt like another really busy week, with many hours sitting on video calls. Despite getting some exercise most mornings I felt stiff after all of the hours in the chair and can feel the stress inside me. I don’t have enough of a window to go for a good walk during the middle of the day, but I’m going to look for opportunities to get out more, even if it is just to wander around the block.
This was a week in which I:
- Had a half-day meeting with our CIO and Head of Governance and Control to plan our management team strategy session. It was very productive. We now have an agreed plan, with structured meetings, materials and agendas in place.
- Followed up with our planned new hire in Beijing as we hadn’t spoken since before Christmas. If all goes well, I am hoping he will be joining us in late February after the Chinese New Year holiday.
- Continued with interviews for Head of Infrastructure and Operations role. We have now added a stage to the process where I meet the candidates ‘informally’ for a coffee chat ahead of the main interviews; this is very useful for clarifying the role and making sure we’re aligned ahead of the interview itself.
- Worked with the team running a large Group programme on how we will fill specific programme roles and representatives from our area.
- Looked at the backup technology used in our wider group. We agreed to stick with what we have for now as there are no significant advantages to changing.
- Looked at tools we can use to make our IP address management easier.
- Was grateful for the team who had an early start to run various performance tests on our Beijing network, particularly a colleague in London who is coordinating the efforts. We now have a good set of remediation tasks in place.
- Revisited how our internal governance and compliance teams interact with the data within Microsoft 365.
- Continued with work on our Team Charter. We now have draft statements which I put out to a short survey, which everyone completed within a day or two. Hopefully we will complete this work next week.
- Watched a short external vendor demo on Microsoft 365 Defender. I’m never going to be an expert, but it is good to know that it exists and what its capabilities are.
- Attended an internal seminar on the UK Africa Investment Conference.
- Started making my meetings finish 5 mins before the half hour or hour, to give people a little gap before their next one. Microsoft Teams has recently added a banner warning that appears 5 minutes before the end of a session, so this is now 10 minutes before the end of an hour. A small contribution in trying to make life better for everyone.
- Attended the Liberating Structures London Meetup. It was my first time there, and such a positive experience with a very welcoming group. The hosts were excellent organisers, and the use of the Structures in the meeting served to reinforce how useful they are. It’s one thing to read about them, but another to participate and feel their inclusiveness. Liberating structures has been described as “good practice at being a human being” and “democratising discussion”, both of which ring true.
- Spoke to my financial advisor for the first time this year. I consolidated my pensions into ethical investments a few years ago now and am so glad I did.
- Was impressed with my boys and their continued focus on home learning. They struggle with distractions a bit, but don’t we all? I am so grateful that they are of secondary school age and don’t need my constant supervision. My wife worked from home on Thursday which is unusual, but she had a full day of remote work to do as well, so we were all beavering away.
- Prepared for our first school Full Governing Board meeting of the year.
- Took part in a family quiz with my brothers, my parents and their families. Kahoot! is a great platform for these types of get-togethers, with live scoring after each round keeping it fun for everyone.
- Was so pleased to see a close friend of mine sign up to micro.blog, the loveliest social space on the Internet. He was looking for somewhere pleasant to hang out, and micro.blog is definitely that.
- Got my reading page up and running on my blog, with links added for all books. Missing, ‘mini-reviews’ are to follow where I can remember what I read. I don’t feel like I read a lot but when you see over 10 years’ worth of books on one page it’s quite something.
- Listened to Tortoise Media’s four-part series on Hidden Homicides, women that have been killed by their partners but not counted. It was harrowing, but encouraging that there is focus on this.
- Finished reading The End of Epidemics by Jonathan D. Quick. I’d started this back in March/April last year, as we went into lockdown and the pandemic took hold. I had to put it down as I found it all too much to dig into at the same time as spending my days full of anxiety, watching the terrible news roll in. If only people had read this book when it came out and had used it when things started to develop. It’s all here.
- Continued to have lots of bizarre dreams, although they seem to have stopped waking me up in the middle of the night. Highlights this week have been:
- One dream where I found myself attending the University of the West of England as a mature student (an institution that I have never visited in real life), but trying to figure out why the Students’ Union was miles away in a different city and I didn’t have a permit to drive. It felt good to be starting something new with a mature mindset, but the overwhelming feeling was one of the people working there frustrating me with their indifference and nobody offering to help me get my driving permit.
- Another where a close friend and I both had balloons that we could blow up and hold, which would lift us in the air and take us out across the countryside and through weird buildings. I kind of enjoyed this one and was sad when my alarm went off.
Next week: A school Governing Board meeting, a webinar on Sooner Safer Happier and the next in the series on Diversity in School Governance. I’ve also taken to blocking free space in my calendar again to try and move forward on the work I need to do — let’s see if that yields results.