in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #204 — Sausage on a fork

An early morning walk across Holborn Viaduct on my way to the office.

An early morning walk across Holborn Viaduct on my way to the office.

An incredibly busy week both in and outside of work, but an enjoyable one. I commuted into the office on Monday and Tuesday, which gave me a chance to recover from Sunday’s long ride before hitting the indoor trainer again. I made good progress with a lot of the initiatives that I am running and finished the week tired but happy.

The weather has turned very cold again, which made for a bracing walk to and from the office. I’m very grateful for my big headphones, which doubled-up as earmuffs under the hood of my coat.

This was a week in which I:

  • Agreed to participate in reviewing responses to an important RFP by the end of next week.
  • Made lots of progress with the configuration and setup of our password manager. We held the second owner/administrator training session with our technical team and as a result took away a number of actions to harden and integrate the software. The scope of pilot users was widened to include some of the senior staff involved in managing information risk as well as a member of our Communications and Marketing team. Our support staff have started to get to grips with the administrative processes such as resetting accounts. Most of the hard work ahead will be in explaining the context and benefits of the tool, training staff in an effective way and helping them to get on board as users. I have refined my Don’t Get Hacked presentation and plan to deliver it to our senior leadership team in a couple of weeks. There’s a lot to do.
  • Had some interesting discussions about our planned implementation of a location broadcasting tool. There are big upsides to knowing where colleagues plan to be every day in the coming weeks, allowing people to plan meetings and diaries effectively. But being this transparent also presents potential downsides. We may need more time in the pilot, and a broader set of people to agree that this is the right direction for us to move in.
  • Met with our cross-functional product team to discuss how we move towards getting the green light to proceed with a pilot of a new tool. When you’re in a small team, it doesn’t matter who writes the first draft of something, it just matters that the team now have something to review, work with and shape. All first drafts are bad drafts.
  • Worked with a colleague on an updated portfolio roadmap for our department and reviewed the first draft with our CIO.
  • Gave a presentation to our department on the Digital Literacy initiative that we are kicking off this year. The material was well-received and generated a lot of conversation.
  • Agreed a technology plan for our two largest meeting rooms in our office. The space is complex from an audio/visual perspective as it consists of two rooms that can be combined into one, which leads to some unusual failure modes. We now have some concrete actions to look at simplifying the setup.
  • Met with colleagues to discuss the challenge of how we on-board clients across multiple countries in the simplest and cleanest way possible. It’s a difficult problem, as Conway’s law is against us.
  • Attended our bi-monthly Information Risk Steering Group meeting.
  • Worked with a colleague to plan an approach to reviewing our Team Charter. We’ve had the Charter in place for two years, tweaking it a little last year.
  • Met with colleagues in South Africa who look after our company’s JIRA instance to get an overview of how things are set up and what the possibilities are. I don’t see us moving to or adopting JIRA any time soon; the benefits would have to significantly outweigh the cost of moving away from what we do now. Knowing more about it is useful for us offering help to another department that we have started working with more closely.
  • Ran our weekly Learning Hour session where we got to see a prototype of a new Azure Bot which can give directions and answer questions for our staff, such as how to book travel or obtain a corporate mobile phone. The technology is relatively simple — at least when compared to something like ChatGPT — but still very effective.
  • Met with the leaders of our Innovation and Community Development team in South Africa to catch up on each others’ plans for 2023. I think that this is the year that we may go places together.
  • Attended the internal project team meeting for our annual investor conference.
  • Joined the weekly meeting for the close-down of one of our regional offices.
  • Helped solve a colleague’s travel documentation issue through concatenating and compressing a bunch of images and PDF files into one small file using Adobe Acrobat.
  • Completed a lot of school governor work, including final versions of two letters to parents, organising meetings and completing a draft contract.
  • Watched Billion-Dollar Downfall: The Dealmaker on iPlayer. I used to work with the CTO that was involved in bringing the alleged crimes to light, and heard about it via a post on LinkedIn. I wasn’t familiar with the story, but it appears to be yet another case of corporate fraud, misappropriating client funds in a similar way to what happened at FTX.
  • Started reading Lurking by Joanne McNeil. It is as great as I hoped it would be — a journey through communities and interactions on the Internet through the lens of someone who must be of similar age to me. It’s so fascinating to look back at things that happened twenty years ago which still feel very recent.

  • Ploughed through season 7 of Grange Hill, supplemented by a few episodes of the brilliantly-named Sausage On A Fork podcast. It was weird, but not surprising, to see Letitia Dean turn up in a cameo role; so many actors from Grange Hill ended up going to work on EastEnders. Season 8 should be fun; the crop of new characters will be ones that I am familiar with from when I watched the show as a kid in the mid-1980s.
  • Had a delicious Saturday brunch with my family at Daisy & Co in Berkhamsted. It’s so lovely to stop for a minute and see how the boys are growing up.
  • Headed to the airport for my first business trip of the year.

Next week: Catching up with colleagues and attending an offsite on our divisional strategy for 2023.

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