A year of work in progress – day 195

Day 195 – 12 November 2014

Here we are beavering away in a small corner of Northern England, on a sphere of rock and iron, flying through space and time in an endless universe. Meanwhile our species is attempting to land a washing machine sized satellite on a comet three hundred million miles away. The romantically named Comet 67P has been making its way through the solar system since what seems to us to be the dawn of time. It’s a ball of rock and ice and God knows what else and we are going to attempt to land on it. It puts things in perspective.

Back on planet Earth we had this month’s Senior Project and Project Leads meeting. We held it in the Tanfield staff room. The whirring of the cooling systems and the odd clang from the print area doesn’t make it an ideal location but we don’t have a lot of other choices. It was also uncomfortably warm.

I was first up to continue the work we have been doing over the previous two sessions. How do we know what people are good at? How do we share that information? What does good mean or look like? This opened up an interesting conversation about are we talking about harder more technical skills or the softer ones? Do we ask people what they think or do we ask others what they think of them? How do we find out about the skills that people have but don’t bring to work?

The premise that I am trying to challenge is that we have good people but some are being asked to do jobs they may not be good at. Most people are good at what they enjoy but all of us have an element of what we do that we don’t like. The greatest gains in performance or productivity will come from getting those who are already good to be better. If you don’t have the natural talent or aptitude, no amount of training will make a difference.

We agreed to set up a small group to define the questions we need to ask. We’re going to ask Dawn if we can use the exercise that the Senior Leadership Team did on Monday.

Steve then announced our approach to mentoring. It was a one off offer at a special price for Christmas. Pam had received her first request before the presentation was finished.

After lunch we had an informal SLT meeting with an agenda that ended up being longer than a normal SLT meeting. We covered the ICT projects as part of the prioritisation process. There is always more to do than the resource that we have. 15/16 is already looking very busy.

Learning points for today: Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is about the size of North Shields; Philae is an island in lake Nasser, Egypt as well as a washing machine sized piece of equipment; it is not about them, it is about all of us and; it is very difficult to define what is and what isn’t a project.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – the future is full already.

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