At the end of the week I was acutely aware of being able to decide how I felt about things. I’d been working hard all week and still had lots to get done, but it didn’t feel like it was crushing me — I could just choose to be grateful to have lots to do and that I was making progress. This year has brought a renewed sense of optimism which I am trying to hang on to.
This was a week in which I:
- Had a very successful, long-awaited meeting with one of our in-country CEOs, agreeing proposals to implement a meeting room videoconferencing upgrade and network change in their office. Scheduled and had a number of follow-up meetings off the back of the decisions to ensure that colleagues across the organisation understood the implications of what we had agreed.
- Attended a number of meetings relating to our flagship conference that is scheduled for the summer. It’s great to be involved so early on. The past two years have been virtual conferences and it was entirely in-person before that. This year it will be hybrid. I thought that holding hybrid meetings was difficult, but a hybrid conference is a whole different ball game. I know we’ll make it a big success — we always do — but there’s a lot of hard work to be done between now and then.
- Joined a kick-off meeting with a new team member who will be working on a series of MIS dashboards for us on one of our key platforms.
- Had a demo from another digital signage vendor. Based on what we’ve seen, we now have two different platforms that could foot the bill of being a global platform for us, powering our in-office displays across our five offices. I’m planning to go into the office next week to get the Raspberry Pi-based platform up and running so we can see how it performs over a number of days and weeks.
- Met with our account managers for our main IT platform to discuss our planned transition to Teams telephony in two of our offices.
- Walked our team through the planned delivery roadmap for the year across all of our areas. It generated some excellent discussion about how we may want to reprioritise some of the work over the next few quarters.
- Met with an external consultant to brief them on a real estate project that we are kicking off, and to request a proposal for how they would approach it.
- Attended a very early morning Programme Increment (PI) planning session for one of the streams of the big strategic group-wide programme. I’m grateful that most of my overseas colleagues are in South Africa and we don’t have much of a time difference, but 9am there is still 7am here which makes for a very long day.
- Joined an internal update briefing from our Governance and Control and Cybersecurity teams.
- Had our final management team workshop on team effectiveness, this time covering the topic of resilience.
- Enjoyed an excellent internal presentation on the capabilities of Microsoft Defender.
- Met up for a one-on-one with the last colleague to come back from their Christmas break. It’s great that we now have a full team once again.
- Had a random coffee with a colleague that joined us during the pandemic. I hadn’t realised until recently that they are also a LearnedLeague player, and from what I can tell they are much better with their general knowledge than I am.
- Had a chat with a colleague about their financial situation and how they can manage it going forward. Over the years, I’ve preached to many people about how life-changing the You Need a Budget (YNAB) app has been for us. I may put together a short internal presentation for our team on the topic.
- Did some preparation for our school Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee meeting next week. I still struggle with fitting in keeping up with all of the school governor work around everything else in my life and have a few actions outstanding from the last meeting. It’s been a tough first couple of weeks for our school given the level of COVID-19 infections amongst staff and pupils. Although the government are behaving like the pandemic is over, it most definitely isn’t.
- Spoke to Deco Audio about the best way to get CDs, SACDs and Blu-Ray audio to my analogue amplifier. They don’t recommend doing anything other than buying a decent CD player. I have a cheap one that I bought 20 years ago, but the tray has stopped working. I need to decide whether to get it repaired or to save the money towards something new.
- Took my eldest boy to the orthodontist. It’s strange how open-ended the work is; they aren’t able to tell us when it will all be done. I remember the same thing when I was a child, going to appointments every few months and constantly being told to ‘wait and see’.
- Changed the rear brake blocks on my eldest son’s road bike from the standard ones that came with the bike to Swissstop Full FlashPro BXPs. I’ve only ever changed brake blocks once before and struggled to get these on due to there not being enough clearance between the brake and the rim. A quick call to my wonderful local bike shop told me what I needed to do. My son’s yet to try them out but from what I can tell they seem to rival F1 cars for stopping power. I’m glad it’s the rear brakes I’ve changed.
- Didn’t manage to get out on the bike this weekend. The weather looked very cold and I’m not one for chancing it when there’s a possibility of ice. Our club ride was cancelled on Saturday. The indoor trainer is so attractive given that I can be on and off in a set time, have very little chance of a puncture and don’t need to clean the bike afterwards.
- Spent a couple of hours on Friday night picking up my son and his friends from Vicarage Road after the Watford v Norwich game. It sounded farcical, with 15 minutes of injury time due to some of the floodlights going out, but the pundits arguing that it was still bright enough to play.
- Spent a few hours in the garden clearing up the mountain of leaves that fell last autumn. It’s been so wet since late last year that I’ve not been able to get out and do it before now. In the process of vacuuming up half a foot of leaves at the rear of the house I came across a furry paw of something that had expired some time ago. I nearly jumped out of my skin, wondering if it was a large hare or a small cat. Fortunately it turned out to be a very smelly dead squirrel. I’m so glad I cleaned up the leaves before it started getting warm again.
Next week: A school governor meeting, my first trip to the office of the year, and trying to use as much of my free time as possible to catch up with meeting actions and keep the momentum on our key initiatives.