A year of work in progress – day 136

Day 136 – 4 August 2014

I consider myself beyond fortunate that I have never been asked to go to war and fight for my, or other people’s values and beliefs. I will remain forever grateful to those less fortunate who have given their lives so I may enjoy the freedoms of living in a modern and liberal democracy. It is a hundred years since the start of the war to end all wars and the world is still waiting.

I was supposed to be off on holiday for a couple of weeks from today but have decided to come in. I needed to set some time aside to rethink the ICT strategy to reflect our recent thinking, especially over the inclusion of the elements of a digital strategy and rather than sit at home and get under people’s feet I lodged myself at Tanfield (in Design and Print).

Of course rewriting the strategy was never going to be an easy task. What had started out as a beautifully crafted document had over time been tweaked and changed to become a parody of its former self. Obtaining a consensus in local government is essential but this often means that messages get watered down or nuanced in such ways that they become confused. Everyone wants their own bit mentioned, not that many people will read the document anyway.

The question was, do I attempt a rewrite or do I start again from scratch? As I always do, I took a previous version and added everyone’s comments before making a go of it but my mind just wouldn’t work. I suffered from writer’s block. I resorted to looking at other strategies on the net for inspiration and even tried printing it out to see if that helped. It didn’t. By half past ten I’d only managed to rewrite one hundred and fifty five words.

The document had expanded through its various iterations and ended up with a lot of repetition. Its messages were muddled and after a while I realised that I should start with an executive summary. Every other strategy seems to have one which sets the tone and allows the reader to get the gist before settling down to read the whole document. I also pulled out the appendices and put them into a separate guide to services. I cracked on and by eleven o’clock had put over a thousand words to bed.

The floodgates had opened and by lunch time I had it all sorted. I still needed some bits and bobs to add and some questions to ask but it was ready to go to the Strategic ICT Group in a couple of weeks’ time. All I needed was to get started.

Learning points for today: One person’s opinion doesn’t make a consensus; what goes on in your mind and what comes out of the ends of your fingers are different things; the hyena like sound in Tanfield comes from the door at the top of the stairs; the guys in design and print have a pie run and; I’m going to need bigger hands for these new phones.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – tough going at the start.

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