The big event this week was not work, a conference in Scotland, the tanking of Sterling, or anything else newsworthy. It was the 100th birthday of my grandmother Iris Needs.
Over the years I’ve learned that my family is unusual compared to a lot of people in my professional world (it wasn’t and isn’t so much in my Bristolian experience.) My family – on my mums side primarily – are close. From a relationship and geography standpoint. The vast majority of us are within a five minute walk of each other. That is Grandmother → Great-grandchildren. We grew up together, went to school together, played football together, got drunk together, work together, own property together. I see multiple members of my family every week…and I am considered one of the less involved members.
We had the party at the local pub where my nan once worked, where my grandfather (RIP) was once a regular, where my father still is (not to mention me, my uncles and cousins all being more than familiar with the place). My mum arranged it all – and got more than a little stressed doing so – and it was a lovely evening.
My role was sorting the cake. This was more stressful than anything my new job had to offer! Clutching it in the back of an Uber from one side of the city to the other was the most wired I’ve ever been in a car! This on top of days of worrying that it wouldn’t even be there for collection or would be wrong in some way (too many sitcoms have this storyline!). Anyway it got there undamaged – looked and tasted lovely and all was well….but bloody hell!
Happy 100th nan!
So what about work then? Here are five things that happened..
- Monday I was in Cardiff where amongst other things a group of us had a really good ‘round-table’ with the Chief Operating Officer. I thought it was a great conversation – open, insightful and interesting. Days later she announced she was leaving – I am assured correlation does not imply causation!
- I did the local version of Service Assessment training. Honestly I think it is fair to say I didn’t need the training. To say I am familiar with the process and the Service Standard (and its evolution) and the initial goals behind the creation might be an understatement. I’ve been assessed, been an assessor, been an observer, been a coach for both assessees and assessors. I’ve blogged about the things I love and want to change about the whole process…more than once. Still despite all that it was a useful insight into where we are.
- I attended my first DDaT SMT. The primary topic of conversation was the P word (prioritisation…it has become a bit triggering to hear it!). It was not an easy session but I have to say it was the most clear I’d felt about what was and wasn’t important during the last couple of weeks and the most reassuring acknowledgement of the need to limit the work in progress to succeed. I had it easy though as I only had to contribute a little but it was a stark insight into what my future…I can’t say it…P words might look like.
- Friday we had an away day at the BEIS Conference Centre – venue of so many of my London trips in my pre-consulting days. It was for the COO division (which we apparently pronouncing like coo-ing birds NOT C-O-O like I have been so there was one take away.) It brought together the leadership of DDaT, HR, Finance, Security, Programme Management and other areas that sit under the aforementioned COO who I definitely did not convince to leave!
I do not enjoy these kinds of gatherings – they were legitimately on the ‘cons’ side of my decision making about whether to return to the Civil Service. I go into my shell in large, noisy groups and that has only got worse post Covid etc. I have ways of surviving at ‘digital’ conferences but the tactics don’t really transfer to broader groups but I muddled through, contributed a bit and chatted to some nice people.
Part of the theme of the event was about ‘social capital’ and collaboration and I think it is funny that I might suggest that over the years I have built a fair bit of social capital in my network and am not shy of collaborating and connecting people…but I did/do this in a particular digital way that didn’t (and doesn’t) fit well with the run around a room meeting people model 🙂
- Had my first one to one with my boss Miranda (she has been away getting hitched post the my first couple of days). This was great. In a somewhat unusual approach for me I went with a bunch of notes about things I wanted to discuss and came away reassured and confident that we were aligned on all of them. I’m not always that well aligned with myself!
Miranda’s vision for the role and team is what convinced me during the interview process that I really wanted this role and now I’m starting to settle in and see it all first hand I’m confident I made the right decision.
Road to 50 – 1999
Things Fall Apart – The Roots*
*This is top 3 single for me of all time