in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #247 — Back to back to back

Meetings. So many meetings. This week, my calendar looked like this:

At one point I had to pick between five meetings all booked to start at the same time.

At one point I had to pick between five meetings all booked to start at the same time.

One of the benefits of sitting down to write these weeknotes is that I take the time to look back over what happened in the past seven days. There was so much in quick succession, with so much context switching, that it was difficult to take stock as I went along.

It was busy, but it was fun. For the second week in a row I felt like some major puzzle pieces slotted into place in terms of what my focus needs to be and what is being asked of me and my team. I’m hoping that I’ll have plenty of time to develop my thinking as we move into December, traditionally a very quiet period for a South African company as lots of people go on their summer holidays.

This was a week in which I:

  • Continued the weekly meeting series with our product development and product management leads.
  • Joined meetings with a number of senior leaders to showcase the work our team has been doing on the prototype of a new internal product. The session with our CEO was invaluable, both for his insight and direction on the product and our business more broadly.
  • Ran a short workshop on our real estate and facilities-focused programmes with the other leaders in our Technology team, outlining the approach to the work so far and indicating what will be needed from them.
  • Joined the project team meeting for the planned opening of a new office.
  • Met with vendors that specialise in fitting out modern office spaces.
  • Reviewed the latest internal architectural drawing for a new office that we are moving into in one of our locations. Discussed the timeline with our commercial real estate partners and agreed next steps.
  • Had some insightful, useful and impromptu end-of-day meetings with members of our management team in the office. These types of conversations wouldn’t happen if we were working from home.
  • Met with colleagues across our division to discuss the feasibility of setting up an internal ChatGPT-like capability.
  • Took part in an internal review our Microsoft licence requirements ahead of our annual renewal.
  • Attended our weekly Learning Hour meeting to hear our CTO talking about the future of the office from a technology perspective.
  • Met with the host of an offsite session taking place next week. I have been invited to present on the topic of large language models and Generative AI. It was so lovely to meet someone that is so organised.
  • Joined the penultimate weekly preparation session for the town hall meeting that our department is hosting in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Reviewed the risks that I own as part of our annual self-assessment.
  • Had our Information Risk governance meeting.
  • Came to the realisation that we need to think of a different way to get one of our projects completed. Despite best intentions, a colleague and I haven’t been able to put enough time aside to move it forward. I need to try to dedicate some time next week to articulating the intent of the work; we’ll then use this as the basis of getting it done through a third party. (Why is it always a third party? What’s a second party?)
  • Was sorry to hear that a colleague had gone off sick with pneumonia. It brought back memories of when I was hospitalised with it almost a decade ago. Hoping she’s on the mend and back with us very soon.
  • Attended a vendor webinar on how to Unleash Business Agility with Planview Roadmaps. We’re already using roadmaps; apparently there will be a free product for existing customers (e.g. those people using AgilePlace, like us) and an Enterprise product.
  • Took the plunge and paid for The Sweet Setup’s To Obsidian and Beyond video course. I managed to watch a handful of videos from the first module and need to put some time aside to go through the rest.
  • Was let down twice in one day by a local network installation company. We have a dead spot in our house that I’m planning to fix via an additional Amplifi router (already purchased from eBay) and a physical ethernet cable that we’ll route on the external walls of our house.
  • Enjoyed hearing a Rush album for the first time, at Album Club. After the album, our host played us some of their most famous hits and I didn’t recognise any of them. How have I managed to avoid exposure to them for nearly 47 years?
  • Was so pleased to have both the Helena Deland and Smoke Fairies new albums drop onto my doorstep. They are beautiful records.
  • Finished watching the Beckham documentary series on Netflix. I’m still getting to grips with the fact that that events I remember from my lifetime are now the subject of historical documentaries. He and his family come across very well, but I’m not sure it was ever going to be any different given that Beckham himself was an executive producer.
  • Rolled straight into the Robbie Williams series. Similar programmes always seem to come along at once.
  • Burnt my throat on a hot veggie roll that had just come out of the oven. I’ve burnt my tongue and mouth many times in the past but this was a new one for me. Not recommended.
  • Had a midweek trip with my youngest son to our beautiful local cinema to watch Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). The film kind of smoulders instead of hitting you in the face. Despite that, it didn’t feel as long as its 3h26m running time. We both enjoyed it, but it felt a far cry from Martin Scorsese’s best movies.
  • Joined some friends at a quiz night in aid of two local youngsters who are raising money for their World Challenge expedition.
  • Invested in an iPad for our eldest boy in the hope that it will help him with his school work. We popped along to the Apple Store in Watford in order to check out the devices in person. Apple being Apple, you can’t just decide what you want and then buy it, you have to book a time slot where someone will help you. As we waited, I amused myself by playing this week’s earworm as loud as I dared on the HomePod speakers.

  • Was grateful that my eldest son’s football match was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. The weekend was packed so it was great to get some time back. Instead of spending Sunday morning running up and down waving a flag I watched other people do it on TV at the third ever F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
  • Took advantage of a relatively dry spell to get out in the garden to vacuum up the tons of leaves that have landed. Our big beech tree has been completely stripped naked by the high winds, but our neighbours’ trees still have some way to go. I only got through half of the work before our garden waste bin filled up.
  • Helped my wife to shop for some new glasses.
  • Demolished the first mince pie of the season. It’s never too early.

Next week: An online Album Club and the return of the Smoke Fairies.

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