in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #191 — Disarray

Back to work in London again and back to my happy place in my home office for a few days. It’s lovely to be here again. Autumn is all around us, which means that I can start wearing jumpers when working from home and no longer need to iron the shirts that I’m wearing underneath. (Don’t tell anyone.)

The podcast backlog that built up while I was away in New York in two weeks wasn’t helped by so many ‘emergency’ episodes being released in the wake of the government turmoil. I spent a lot of evenings up late watching the extraordinary goings on in parliament and checking the news. Watching the Prime Minister fall after 44 days in office has been simultaneously filled with schadenfreude and completely grotesque; our country is in a lot of pain and I don’t see a clear route forward. The current Conservative party is unleadable. No candidate will be able to keep MPs pointing in the same direction to conduct government business in a stable way. As always, Chris Grey has a useful dissection of where we are. Despite his latest post being called Total Disarray, he ends by saying that “For only the second time since June 2016 I feel slightly hopeful.” Because we are now having to confront the realities of Brexit and Brexitism and the ensuing political and economic crisis, we may be able to start talking more openly about it.

This was a week in which I:

  • Agreed on a way forward for our Password Manager project and have now asked our preferred vendor for a formal quote. Buying the tool will be the easy bit. We need to make sure that we have a good on-ramp for our staff and the capacity to nudge people towards the correct behaviours.
  • Reviewed the latest architecture proposal for an Internet of Things network and agreed next steps.
  • Caught up with colleagues in our People and Culture department on the clear writing course I want to schedule for our team.
  • Started to pick up some additional responsibilities as our CIO is now spread across two jobs. Attended our bi-monthly meeting with Enterprise Architecture and agreed how we will go forward with these sessions.
  • Handed over some small projects to our new team member in New York.
  • Took part in the weekly project meeting for the closure of one of our offices.
  • Caught up with our head of API technology.
  • Met with colleagues in Investment Banking Technology to collaborate on ‘ways of working’.
  • Enjoyed our team’s weekly Learning Hour session where one of our newest members took us through the concept of Jobs To Be Done.
  • Attended a presentation by our CTO on electricity infrastructure and power resiliency. He made brilliant use of video from Google Earth to take us to various sites, explaining some of the design decisions that were made and how lots of infrastructure is operating well outside of its normal parameters.
  • Watched the video from our South African headquarters celebrating our company’s 160th birthday. The quality of our internal events and their recording are both exceptional.
  • Met with a sister company to talk through our approach to IT infrastructure and in particular our Microsoft 365 setup. They are at the start of the journey. The in-person meeting was coupled with an old-fashioned audio dial-in which felt like a big step back in time.
  • Joined the Thoughtworks Technology Radar webinar to hear about the tools, techniques, platforms, languages and frameworks that they are thinking about. I’m wondering whether it would be useful to create our own ’hold, assess, trial, adopt’ map for the technologies we use internally.
  • Booked a slot at Flight Club social darts for a team night out in November, when a couple of members of the management team will be in London. The venue is incredibly booked up for weeks in advance.
  • Had a random coffee with a colleague who has relocated from Johannesburg to Cape Town. He actually lives in a small town a few hundred kilometres east, alternating each week between home and office working. It got me thinking about the displacement that we’re going through; many major cities will be experiencing falls in population and tax revenues which could send them into a downward spiral. A friend shared an excellent article from Bloomberg which dissects the situation for midtown Manhattan, illustrating the same point.
  • Had another random coffee with a colleague in New York who had just got back from a long trip to South Africa and Angola.
  • Attended the Chairs’ Strategic Information Briefing run by HFL Education. Their meetings are always valuable but extremely information-dense, with this one covering assessment, upskilling the board and headteacher on financial management, human resources, improving school attendance, Ofsted inspections and a number of other smaller topics. The HFL Education Governance Senior Advisor told us that she is retiring at Christmas and I will be so sad to see her go; her support has been invaluable to me over the past few years.
  • Spent an evening at my son’s school to learn about the Sixth Form and get more detail on the subjects that he is interested in. I’m so jealous that he has all of this wonderful learning ahead of him.
  • Had my first of two visits to the dentist to get a crown fitted to the tooth that gave me so much trouble in the summer.

Next week: Hosting Album Club again.

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