in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #182 — A desire to punch myself in the face

A strange, liminal week, back at work for five days between two holidays. After having such a wonderful time away with my extended family — and having looked forward to it for years — it felt sad that it was now in the past. Monday was a bit of a struggle; I travelled into the office and had a lot of meetings, which meant that I didn’t feel caught up by the end of the day.

Most of the week was dominated by my bad tooth. The pain was a dull ache at first, enough to make me start searching for dentists near the office. Most of them seemed to cost about £175 for an initial consultation with a filling at around £400–£600. The pain was coming and going in waves, so I figured I would wait and try and get an appointment with my regular dentist at home. If they couldn’t fit me in, I would then try to get seen somewhere else. But on the train home on Monday the pain became unbearable. I was almost in tears and wanted to punch myself in the face to make it stop — or at least take my mind off it. My wonderful wife met me at the train station with a pack of ibuprofen and a bottle of water. The pain relief soon kicked in.

I managed to get an emergency appointment with my dentist the next day. She removed an old filling and replaced it with a new one. Unfortunately, as soon as the local anaesthetic wore off the pain came raging back. The next day I was so grateful that she found time to get me into her dentist chair again. My tooth was reopened so that the nerves could be removed, followed by yet another filling. This time the pain faded away. The extra work means that I now need to have root canal treatment, an expensive specialist procedure that my dentist can’t do. I’m so grateful that we are lucky enough to afford it. I’ve already been to the consultant and had a 3D scan of my jaw so they know what they are tackling. Hopefully the pain will stay away for the next couple of weeks ahead of me having the procedure. Once that’s done I have to go back to my dentist to look at having a crown fitted.

A week in which I:

  • Read a debrief on the physical and logical network changes that we made in one of our server rooms a couple of weeks ago. The team did an incredible job and the setup now looks fantastic. There are still some good lessons we can take to our next site.
  • Met with the team creating data dashboards for use by our client-facing staff. Reflected on how important it is for us to get information about how they are used in practice as opposed to how we think they might be used. Some of the team members will be users of the dashboards themselves, so it should be easy for us to get some good insights.
  • Gave a call to the prospective new member of staff that I have been trying to hire. The process has been snarled up on our side for a variety of reasons and I am conscious of it all adding up to a terrible first impression of our organisation. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we’re ready for him to start with us. It’s going to be brilliant to get a new set of skills, ideas and fresh thinking into the team.
  • Joined the weekly project meeting for the shut down of one of our regional offices. Being out of the office for the past couple of weeks means that I haven’t been playing a major part in the work. So much has been done already and I’m very grateful that one of my peers has stepped in to pick up the IT actions for now.
  • Tried to spend time progressing my thinking on how to tackle our Digital Literacy programme. I’m starting to relate lots of conversations with colleagues back to this embryonic piece of work. It seems that every week somebody is getting in touch for some basic pointers on an app or service that they use. Assumptions that I’ve made about what people all already know are false. We have 60–90 minute training videos that nobody ever watches. So we’re going to need to build in a series of easily-digestible basic tutorials that we send out in bite size chunks again and again. After all, every day somebody’s born who has never seen The Flintstones.
  • Took part in our monthly department risk review meeting. We covered the upcoming potential ’grey listing’ of South Africa, what it might mean for our business, and what we need to be thinking about as an Engineering team.
  • Watched a recording of an internal meeting all about the potential impact of the grey listing, run by a number of our senior analysts. My conclusion is that it is very difficult to predict what the impact would be and how long it would last, if and when it happens.
  • Viewed the recording of a meeting I missed with one of our department heads on the challenges of his business. This was the last in a series of interviews with the leadership team where we discussed their goals, as well as what keeps them up at night. He took us through his sophisticated OneNote-based knowledge management system and explained how it gave him a massive advantage when speaking with clients. It has got me thinking about how we can socialise the techniques and thinking as I am sure there are others that would benefit from it. Two decades of Getting Things Done systems have taught me that everyone will have their own preferences, but it does help to be exposed to the ways in which other people get their work done.
  • Challenged the thinking that the executive sponsor of an IT initiative cannot sit within IT. This idea is so deeply ingrained in business culture, part of the history of IT being viewed as order-takers instead of true partners. I had similar discussions about where product managers sit. The team should be the thing that matters; we should concern ourselves whether they have the skills to do what they aim to do rather than where in the organisation chart they sit.
  • Reviewed a quote for external help with the major network infrastructure optimisation at our busiest office.
  • Reviewed the latest technical proposal and quote for improvements to our collaboration space.
  • Gave a team demo on our new digital signage solution as part of our Learning Hour series.
  • Reviewed the communications that will be sent to announce the new digital signage solution at the next office where we plan to go live.
  • Met with the co-founder of the Team Today application. It seems to be a good fit for solving the problem of knowing where your colleagues are planning to be, particularly now that hybrid working seems here to stay. We have a demo lined up for when people are back from their summer break.
  • Formally completed the last task for our June conference when our solution vendor confirmed that they had deleted all of our data.
  • Checked in with a colleague following our workshops in Johannesburg a couple of weeks ago, on the topics of how we collaborate between two different of two parts of our organisation and setting up an informal group chat.
  • Caught up with all of the teams’ Kanban board changes from the past week.
  • Tuner into a LeanKit demo on their new card scoring functionality. I think this can replace a makeshift ‘cost of delay divided by duration’ method that I put in place a couple of years ago.
  • Agreed next steps towards providing our team with ‘clear writing’ training. A half-day course I took many years ago has stayed with me ever since and I’d love more of our team to be exposed to it.
  • Enjoyed our weekly in-office ‘munch and mingle’ lunch, chatting with a colleague in our People and Culture team.
  • Got sent some lovely date biscuits from a very thoughtful colleague in Dubai.
  • Formally signed off on my mid-year review.
  • Reviewed a letter from our Headteacher to parents that is due to be sent out before term starts.
  • Agreed to do a PechaKucha presentation at a cycle club social evening. I’d not heard of the format before. You get 20 slides which advance at a rate of one every 20 seconds, so it needs to be both visual and to the point. They’ve asked people to present on topics other than cycling so that we get to learn a bit more about fellow members. My topic is going to be about the best night of the month.
  • Had fun buying a bunch of new t-shirts from Printerval, Etsy and Threadheads.
  • Bought new flea collars for the cats.
  • Had a lovely evening out for dinner with some friends we hadn’t seen in a while.
  • Got prepped for our next holiday, ironing all of the things.
  • Travelled to Faro for a week away with friends. For some reason the flight nearly destroyed me with the impact it had on my bad tooth. I’m guessing the pressurisation of the aircraft didn’t agree with it. I will be taking painkillers before we take off for our journey home.

Next week: Holiday part two.

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  1. Busy Busy week you’ve had mate. Really hope you have a great holiday. Give my best to everyone. Hope your tooth behaves. Love you. Dad