Week beginning 2 November

A week that got better towards the end. I had a good run on Thursday during the day, enjoyed most of Friday and am now sat in the garden after running my 3rd best 10k since I started using Strava. I love the colours of autumn, the temperature and the extent to which you can really focus on what needs to be done. 

I didn’t do enough to look after myself. I didn’t stay up for the American election that wasn’t but drank wine slightly too consistently and went to bed later than strictly necessary. 

Data at the heart of everything 

We have a team mission: to put data at the heart of everything. It’s easy to understand why this is hard. Users see the software rather than the data. They see their work rather than the activity before and afterwards. And as users, we don’t know what we don’t know. But the cyberattack has shown that the applications can be ephemeral – it’s the data that really matters. Staff have shown incredible ingenuity and resolve but what they most need from us is historic data, 

The energy for now

I know that in some respects, I’m better in a crisis. Or at least, I work more efficiently. When I get emails I respond straight away rather than composing emails in my head but not actually getting round to sending them. I think that’s about having urgency, the knowledge that there’s going to be less time later and enough energy for now. I didn’t do that as well this week. Too many things felt like they just could be done at a later point. 


Whenever I look too far ahead I can only see how much further we have to go. So I try hard not to. I’ve shortened my horizons to the end of the day. Much of that is healthy as well as necessary. But I also realised that it increases the likelihood that you stay on the same path. Whilst this isn’t a time for big strategic thoughts it also demands creativity. My next responsible leadership challenge is to make sure we’re exploring different ways to solve a problem. 

And when my mind does drift forward to think about how much further we have to travel, I remember that in the last three months alone I’ve watched all of Prison Break. And I’ve only got 47 episodes left of This Is Us. And if I can do that, then this summit isn’t insurmountable.

The right tone

For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to adapt my style to the circumstances. It’s now too deeply ingrained for me to have much choice in the matter. But as part of my ‘preparing for big meetings’ checklist one of the questions is ‘How do I want to come across?’. I found it particularly useful twice this week. It gave me a bit more control over situations whilst, I think, still enabling me to get the right tone for the audience. 

Clear expectations

I know I sometimes struggle to give people a clear set of expectations. Sometimes I don’t want to limit their chances of doing something in a way that’s better than I would do. Other times I can’t quite describe how to bridge the gap between where something is and where it needs to be. But twice this week, it worked. I had a clear view of how something needed to be and the confidence that I was right. And the results surprised and delighted me. I just haven’t quite spotted the common denominator. 

Next week

I’m leading a recovery workstream about business continuity and applications. I’ve muddled through this week. Next week, I need to put more structure and rhythm around it so that teams can be more confident about what they’re doing and the joins between their work and that of others. Trello beckons.