in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #137 — Mercurial World

Pre-pandemic, this was the time of the year where someone could paint your house pink and you wouldn’t know until the weekend.

Pre-pandemic, this was the time of the year where someone could paint your house pink and you wouldn’t know until the weekend.

Commuted into London on Monday and Wednesday, the first time I’ve gone in on multiple days in one week since March 2020. A day in the office is exhausting, partly because of the early starts to get there on time, and partly because of all of the distractions that come with being around so many people again. On both days I barely made a dent on my to-do list, and was grateful to be back home again the following days where I could be more productive.

There is an assumption that being together with colleagues is unquestionably better in some sense, and this is an assumption that I have shared. However, I’ve been pointed at the work of Liz Stokoe who is a Professor of Social Interaction at Loughborough University. She debunks the myth that “93% of communication is non-verbal” by asking how we can hold conversations in the dark or develop relationships via the telephone, and states that “(in)effective communicators are (in)effective communicators regardless of modality.” I’m still thinking deeply about this, and how I feel much closer to my colleagues that have always been physically remote to me as we have worked together through the pandemic. I’ve ordered Liz’s book, Talk and have added it to my reading list.

This was a week in which I:

  • Vowed never to stay late in the office to attend an optional video meeting again. Being on a Zoom call with Simon Sinek was pretty cool, but with a late finish and a reduced train service I was home way past dinner time. I missed my family.
  • Started thinking about the discipline of Service Design as it applies to our business, spurred on by some ideas from our CIO and discussions I have had with the members of the WB-40 community. On their recommendation I have picked up a copy of Lou Downe’s Good Services and hope to get around to reading it shortly. I’m interested in how things differ when the client expects a ’white glove’ service and won’t just be serving themselves via a webpage.
  • Joined a meeting with one of our senior business leaders to review the roadmap for the big group programme, its impact on our part of the organisation and how we plan to take it forward. We received so much useful feedback that will help shape the work over the next few months.
  • Had a meeting to discuss how we will resource this work.
  • Met with a cross-functional team to review our WAN routing strategy.
  • Completed some template slides for our 2022 priorities, to be submitted to our business function CIO.
  • Attended a ‘masterclass’ on setting learning objectives and linking them to training in the various HR tools.
  • Reviewed our draft Operational Risk self-audit ahead of its annual submission.
  • Ran a cross-functional meeting to look at mandatory compliance recording and how it fits into a world where there are so many ways of people speaking to each other. I have some follow-up work to do before we meet again in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Reviewed the first draft of our revamped department financial forecast for 2022.
  • Picked up a new project to move our endpoint monitoring and antivirus to a new platform over the next few months, and allocated it to one of my team members.
  • Had a one-on-one coaching session as part of a broader team effectiveness process within our department. I haven’t had any coaching for quite a few years and it was great to have someone to bounce things off of again. I have some homework to do before the next session in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Took part in a workshop with the rest of the department as part of the same team effectiveness work, based on our CliftonStrengths assessments.
  • Attended an update session run by our Corporate Services department to get up to speed with all of the work being done in that space.
  • Watched a ‘town-hall’-style overview of a digital solution put in place by our Investment Banking team in South Africa.
  • Received an update on our approach to third-party risk management.
  • Published two weeks’ worth of Wins, and got our weekly random coffee pairings sent out.
  • Joined our school Full Governing Board meeting in-person, at the school, for the first time in 18 months. It was lovely to meet some of the new governors that I have only previously met via Teams. In preparation, I had to review the latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education as well as a crop of policies. I agreed to continue as vice-chair for another year.
  • Had a lovely catch-up call with an ex-colleague that I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years.
  • Enjoyed another Berkhamsted Cycle Club ride on Saturday morning with my eldest son. We tried running in the 15–16mph group this week and had no problems keeping up. The early morning mist was stunningly beautiful, and I spotted a fox as we journeyed along a country lane. We finished the ride with a coffee and croissant at Musette Cafe in Aldbury, before a trip to the local bike shop for a quick tune-up and to buy some mudguards ready for winter group rides.
  • Took a trip with my wife to Tring to visit Our Bookshop. They opened in September 2019 and I had bought a few books from them during lockdown via their website. I was a bit disappointed with how small the shop felt compared to the photos, but they seemed to be doing a fantastic trade with a constant stream of people wandering in. We popped by Musette cafe on the way home for a coffee and cake, my second visit that day.
  • Mowed the back lawn, possibly for the last or penultimate time this year as the days draw in.
  • Bought a vinyl copy of Designer by Aldous Harding, which sounds superb. The album is my current obsession, and I find myself singing the songs all the time. The videos are striking in a way that I haven’t seen in many years.

  • Was very happy to find that Magdalena Bay’s debut album Mercurial World was released on Friday. I bought it without hesitation when it was announced, but will have to wait a few weeks for the vinyl to turn up.

Next week: Another couple of days in the office, a strategy session and meeting another ex-colleague for a catch-up.

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