in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #156 — Smoke Fairies

At the station on Tuesday morning.

At the station on Tuesday morning.

A much better week than the one before. The melancholic fog had dissipated and things felt much more normal. I had a lot to look forward to this week as on Tuesday I was finally going to see a live band again. Just before the pandemic struck I had been increasing the amount of gigs that I had been going to and like so many other things this came to an abrupt halt. I had bought tickets to the gig in early 2020 and it was originally scheduled for that October. This then became April 2021 and eventually landed on February 2022. The evening didn’t disappoint; the bands, the venue and the company were all wonderful and the evening resonated with me throughout the rest of the week. It felt impossible to be COVID-safe with so many people packed into such a small space and so many of them, including me, not masked up as we had a drink. I guess we’re just going to have to be comfortable with being a bit uncomfortable for now.

The beautiful venue, Lafayette in King’s Cross.

The beautiful venue, Lafayette in King’s Cross.

Samana

Samana

The wonderful Smoke Fairies

The wonderful Smoke Fairies

My boys were both off school for their half term holiday. They took a trip with my wife to their grandparents on Monday, so I was home alone for the evening. It’s been a very long time since I was the only one at home. Heading out to work early for my commute on Tuesday, getting back very late from the gig after everyone was asleep and then heading out again the next day before they were all up was strange; it used to happen so much in the old days and now it was an exhausting novelty. I was very grateful to be back at home on Thursday and Friday to finish the week.

This was a week in which I:

  • Took on responsibility for managing the IT component of our company’s flagship annual conference, to be held in our offices in June, which will be hybrid for the first time. This week we had presentations from technology vendors who will take on the bulk of the technology work. Gave a brief update to the steering committee at the end of the week.
  • Took part in a couple of kick-off meetings for a programme to look at our office locations ahead of the leases expiring in a couple of years’ time. There are so many permutations of what we might end up doing, and it’s difficult to imagine exactly what an office should look like 2025.
  • Met with the IT management team to discuss a challenge with part of our end-user support model and agreed a way forward.
  • Reviewed where we are with our Windows 11 pilot and agreed next steps to move across to the new platform during the course of this year.
  • Wrote a document on what the user experience should be for our largest meeting spaces in our London office. We’ve had technical difficulties with the rooms since they were commissioned, partly due to not having had the opportunity to thoroughly test them before the pandemic hit, and partly due to them being too complex. I’m hoping that we can do something that will simplify the technology while still giving staff as good an experience as possible.
  • Reviewed the success criteria that we will use to evaluate two different digital signage platforms before implementing one in the next few weeks.
  • Ramped up trying to get our mandatory compliance recording for Teams in place. We have a few administrative issues to close out, along with some technical tweaks and some staff communications to draft.
  • Ran a review of our Team Charter, a year after we first put it together. I tried using the 1-2-4-All Liberating Structure using breakout rooms in Teams. Given how little time I had to prepare, I was quite pleased at how well it went. Running the session in this way definitely generated more feedback from some of the less vocal members of the team. The team largely felt that the Charter was good as it was, but I made note of some suggested minor updates.
  • Reviewed the first iteration of some management information dashboards being put together as part of the big group programme. Discussed how we can use a two-weekly iteration plan to get into a rhythm of delivery.
  • Had an excellent long one-on-one meeting with the CIO, reviewing and agreeing how we approach the change portfolio for the rest of the year.
  • Attended a webinar on  Joined-up Leadership for Effective School Resource Management.
  • Woke up to a red ‘danger to life’ weather warning on Friday. Watched the garden furniture wander around the garden as Storm Eunice hit on Friday. I flinched a couple of times as branches from the tree above my office broke off and hit the roof but we got through it largely unscathed. Unlike, it seems, this bar in Hove.

  • Found myself on a severely delayed train for the first time in years. Fortunately it made it to the station before my destination before stopping. My friend’s wife kindly came to pick us up, saving us from what turned out to be a 55 minute delay.
  • Went to change my bike wheel early on Saturday morning from the one I use on the indoor trainer to my outdoor one, only to find that I had a flat. I changed the inner tube but didn’t have time to do a full investigation of the source of the problem, and assumed that it was just an old tube whose time had come. My son and I rode down to meet the rest of the club riders and just as we were about to roll, I found myself with another flat. It looks like I picked up a tiny flint the last time we went out and this had made holes in both of the tubes. My son got to go out with the group but I had to walk home to find and fix the problem. Time for a new tyre.

  • Enjoyed taking advantage of the modern world. Last Sunday evening I was thinking about how I am always the idiot in the suit when I go to gigs after work. Determined to avoid this, I ordered some brown shoes and black jeans that I thought I could get away with wearing in the office. Both items were delivered to my house by the middle of the day on Monday. I try not to buy things for same or next day delivery as I assume the environmental cost is higher than waiting, but it’s amazing to be able to do this on the rare occasion I need it.
  • Tried an escape room for the first time. My wife found one locally and thought it would be a fun thing for the family to all do together on Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, we broke the escape time record! Once we got out of the first chamber and through to the second one, we found a cabinet in the corner with the room escape key on view for us to see. The cabinet was bolted with a four-digit combination lock. While everyone else went about solving the various puzzles in the room, I went straight for the lock and carefully listened and felt my way to the right combination. I felt like a character from a 1960s heist movie. The guy on the front desk then came to see us and showed us all of the puzzles that we skipped. As the game was to try to escape as quickly as possible it seemed like a good strategy, but felt a bit of a hollow victory.
The infiltrated cabinet.

The infiltrated cabinet.

Next week: Another couple of days in the office. Ramping up the pressure on the Q1 project milestones as we are already halfway to the end of the quarter.

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