I spent most of this week in Johannesburg. The main purpose of my trip was to attend a three-day workshop with the aim of rebooting the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) within our company. A few years ago it was the shiny new thing, but for a number of reasons it has faded away. It feels as though we are trying to climb out of the ‘trough of disillusionment’ up the ‘slope of enlightenment’ of the Gartner hype cycle:
I hadn’t been to Johannesburg since 2018 and it was so good to be back. Our company headquarters are there and it is great to be immersed in a place where the organisation has such a significant role to play in peoples’ lives. Of the 30 or so colleagues at the workshop I only knew a couple of them, and nobody very well. Our facilitators were amazing, with two of them leading the sessions and another acting as a scribe, resulting in a collaborative piece of work being emailed to us just a couple of hours after we finished. We have a bunch of actions to follow up with as a group and none of them feel unrealistic or overreaching.
On Thursday I spent the day in our head office with our immediate team, meeting a whole bunch of people in person for the first time. They all travelled in to say hello and enjoy a fabulous team lunch together. It was so lovely to reconnect with my colleagues, our company and Africa again.
A week in which I:
- Agreed to take an action to look at how we can effectively collaborate across Microsoft 365 tenants with a company that we recently acquired.
- Took the decision not to roll out our digital signage solution to one of our smaller offices. They use their screen to watch the news on occasion; they agreed that putting signs in their face would be overkill.
- Continued to try and navigate the process to on-board a new contractor to the team.
- Pondered how the sunk cost fallacy applies to hotel breakfasts. They are always a set rate of around £10–15, most of the time I just want my usual bowl of muesli, but I end up eating fruit, toast, mini muffins, bowls of fruit, eggs and everything else even when I don’t really want them, because £10 for a bowl of muesli seems excessive.
- Felt good to be reconnecting with the worlds of software development and ‘ways of work’ through the workshop. I felt as though I could contribute to the topic despite SAFe not being a big part of my current day-to-day reality. I took the opportunity to explain about our little-known and sometimes misunderstood part of the company that sits outside Africa.
- Ate a lot of junk food for dinner. Being away from home and an aspiring vegan meant that choices were limited.
- Tried samp for the first time. Absolutely delicious.
- Was the first person to go through Heathrow Terminal 3 immigration on Friday. I woke up at 3:30am as we started to descend towards the airport. The flight back from Johannesburg never used to get in so early; as a result of the pandemic there are a reduced number of flights and I think the airline needs to use their early slot to avoid losing it.
- Spent Friday working from home in a bit of a daze before driving down to a hotel near Gatwick airport, ready for an early flight on Saturday. We have a holiday away with my parents, my brothers and all of our families which we are finally embarking on after a couple of cancellations — the first time because the travel company went bust and the second time due to the pandemic. It’s going to be amazing to spend so much time with everyone for the first time since we were teenagers. I’ll be able to avoid that feeling of always leaving shortly after arriving when we meet up. Being able to spend time together is such a luxury. From Wait But Why:
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.
Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.
Next week: Holiday!