in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #192 — All the gigabytes you could possibly need

My overwhelming memory of this week is being overtired. Leg-achingly, eyelid-droopingly overtired. More than once, I dozed off in front of the TV and should have taken this as a hint that I needed to go up to bed, but instead I ploughed on. Before I met my wife I used to exist on very little sleep during the week, catching up by binging with lie-ins at the weekend. I’m now a reasonably early riser every day of the week, and after almost two decades I’m coming around to the possibility that my bedtime is perhaps a smidgen too late.

This was a week in which I:

  • Spent time planning out the remaining work for our project to roll out a Password Manager to the organisation. As I keep saying to everyone, buying the tool and putting it in peoples’ hands is going to be the easy bit; making sure that the on-ramp is effective and continually nudging people towards the right behaviour is much more difficult. Given the amount of time required to on-board a new vendor and get a purchase order in place, and that December is around the corner, I’m aiming for a big launch in January. This will also give us time for a trial in the Engineering team, and allow us to collaborate with our Marketing and Communications team to get their help and support in making it a success.
  • Created a mind map for onboarding new staff as part of our digital literacy initiative. My draft goal for the work is to “Give new joiners a great on-boarding experience, equipped to be able to work digitally and effectively from day one.” People already think that we do a good job compared to other companies, getting new staff set up with an account and a laptop on their first day, but it’s a low bar. We can do so much better. Although the root of the work is from our digital space — it stemmed from me realising that all of our new joiners will need to be shown how to use our password manager software —I’ve also been inspired by this passage from The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath:

Shortly after you accept the offer letter from John Deere, you get an email from a John Deere Friend. Let’s call her Anika. She introduces herself and shares some of the basics: where to park, what the dress norms are, and so forth. She also tells you that she’ll be waiting to greet you in the lobby at 9 a.m. on your first day. When your first day comes, you park in the right place and make your way to the lobby, and there’s Anika! You recognize her from her photo. She points to the flat-screen monitor in the lobby—it features a giant headline: “Welcome, Arjun!” Anika shows you to your cubicle. There’s a six-foot-tall banner set up next to it—it rises above the cubes to alert people that there’s a new hire. People stop by over the course of the day to say hello to you. As you get settled, you notice the background image on your monitor: It’s a gorgeous shot of John Deere equipment on a farm at sunset, and the copy says, “Welcome to the most important work you’ll ever do.” You notice you’ve already received your first email. It’s from Sam Allen, the CEO of John Deere. In a short video, he talks a little bit about the company’s mission: “to provide the food, shelter, and infrastructure that will be needed by the world’s growing population.” He closes by saying, “Enjoy the rest of your first day, and I hope you’ll enjoy a long, successful, fulfilling career as part of the John Deere team.” Now you notice there’s a gift on your desk. It’s a stainless steel replica of John Deere’s original “self-polishing plow,” created in 1837. An accompanying card explains why farmers loved it. At midday, Anika collects you for a lunch off-site with a small group. They ask about your background and tell you about some of the projects they’re working on. Later in the day, the department manager (your boss’s boss) comes over and makes plans to have lunch with you the next week. You leave the office that day thinking, I belong here. The work we’re doing matters. And I matter to them.

  • Had my regular meeting with our Marketing and Communications and People and Culture teams. Gave them an overview of my thinking about on-boarding and the password manager initiative.
  • Was given approval from our Chief Information Security Officer to go ahead with a trial of software that will give staff the ability to broadcast our intended location each day. There are just one or two more vendor on-boarding checks to do before we can proceed.
  • Spent Tuesday in an all-day meeting with senior managers across our Investment Bank Technology team, watching and participating in a number of panel discussions about our strategy. It felt as though those of us that couldn’t be physically present in the room in Johannesburg still managed to contribute well to the session. We were helped by fabulous colleagues that were there who let us know in the meeting chat who was speaking. Once again I made reference to my write-up of the book A Seat at the Table, which jumps to my mind as soon as anyone utters the phrase “IT and business”.
  • Met with the vendor that will be upgrading the physical door access system in one of our offices and agreed that they will give us a detailed implementation plan.
  • Reviewed some new dashboards for our CRM system that show the level of interaction with the tools over time.
  • Enjoyed our weekly Learning Hour session, this time with a guest host from our Financial Crime Compliance department.
  • Ran the weekly all-team meeting. Along with our usual agenda, we talked about the alert from the US embassy in South Africa about a possible terror attack at the weekend which thankfully didn’t come to pass.
  • Attended the weekly project meeting for the shutdown of one of our offices.
  • Enjoyed meeting a colleague from our Credit Risk team in South Africa for a ‘random coffee’.
  • Started using Trello again after a very long hiatus. I needed something that would allow me to easily see my main personal and school governor projects in one place. My task manager, Remember The Milk, doesn’t really cut it. Although Planview’s AgilePlace (formerly LeanKit) is the best Kanban tool around, I can’t justify spending USD 240/year; I’ve given up on waiting for a reasonably-priced licence for personal use. I already feel as though I’ve got my arms around my personal projects a little more. Last Christmas I spent some time trying to get on top of my personal workflow and haven’t made much progress beyond migrating from Evernote to OneNote.
  • Caught up with an old friend and colleague from twenty years ago who has recently moved to Perth.
  • Spent time refreshing the various school policies relating to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It was sad to see that we now have to refer to ‘UK GDPR’ throughout the documents as a result of Brexit.
  • Welcomed my eldest boy back from his school ‘sports tour’ to Manchester. For a short while after he returned, I wasn’t the most tired person in the house.
  • Upgraded my children’s SIM-only mobile plans from 20GB/month to 75GB/month for just a couple of pounds extra. Apparently, because we also have a Virgin Media subscription, these allowances get doubled. I never want to have a conversation with anyone about running out of data ever again.
  • Loved hosting Album Club and sharing a recent favourite with friends.
  • Had a random weeknight family dinner out at Nando’s.
  • Feel like I’m starting to get my bike fitness back after a couple of weeks off. Workouts are harder than they should be, but I’m at least now managing to complete them.
  • Went out with my eldest son for a Sunday morning 10k run, right before his football match where I ran the line. We’re both a bit worn out.
  • Watched Boyz N The Hood (1991) with my eldest boy. The climatic scene still makes me cry, thirty years after seeing it for the first time.
  • Finished watching season two of Only Murders In The Building. It’s such a delightful show. Our itch to see a bit more of Steve Martin and Martin Short was scratched by heading straight to Father Of The Bride (1991). It turns out that 1991 was a pretty good year for movies.

Next week: Finishing my annual review (already!), a school parents’ evening, meeting a prospective new school governor, and another Friday night Album Club.

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