A year of work in progress – day 211

Day 211 – 8 December 2014

It was way back in June, day 98 to be exact, when I first delivered some training on how to ‘drive the desktop’. This morning it was my turn to deliver it again as part of the Durham Manager development programme. The idea behind it was that many people are held back from getting the most out of their desktop applications because they lack the necessary skills and tricks. I suppose it was a lesson in basic productivity.

I have become more and more aware of the need for this when going round visiting our customers, especially through the MOT days when I get a chance to sit down with them in a work environment. Many of those I get involved with are fine at the tasks they have been asked to do but get hopelessly lost if they stray off the path, especially in navigating their way around the Microsoft Office suite and managing data.

I started by asking how many had a laptop. There was a good show of hands yet only two had brought one along. To me that was an example of the cultural shift we need to make (getting used to bringing the tools that we need).

I then went on to ask how many could ride a bike and how had they learnt? The parallel being that only by making mistakes and learning from them can you truly improve. No one had retained their cycling proficiency manual. At least a mistake on a desktop is not going to give you a scraped knee. It all went well enough.

The ICT Strategic Group was up next. I gave an update on core business systems and the prioritisation process as well as Digital Durham, Big Data and the first draft of projects for next year. It was also our first opportunity to test drive the proposed architecture. Louise in Design and Print had done a great job in making the diagram come to life. A few amendments were suggested but again it all went well.

In the afternoon I attended an organisational fit workshop. This sounded very politically correct, like a fit note rather than a sick note but it was an attempt to draw out some conclusions to the accommodation work so far. The consultants came up with some potential models showing the minimum and maximum number of desks and we got the chance to have a play with the numbers. It’s always difficult to justify whether anyone needs to be anywhere at all but we had a stab. Thankfully we have so few people in County Hall today that we are not as much in the mix as we might have been.

As an aside, Pam provided me with some usage figures for the Room for Improvement. Since going public that it is available demand has grown from September at 35.09%, October at 48.10% and November at 58.75%. It looks like we are going to max out the room soon.

Learning points for today: The crouton question can be addressed, whether or not soup is a meal; moving house is not easy; football is the glue that binds men together and; scissors and paper are essential tools for architects.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – some movement on some interesting stuff.

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