A year of work in progress – day 215

Day 215 – 12 December 2014

Number nine on my list of ten things to achieve this year was to finish my book. Well technically this one is in the bag. I’ve finished it but haven’t published it. I keep meaning to read it through and am thinking of publishing it for the Kindle. I just haven’t got round to it and wonder if there is something holding me back (perhaps because it is no good). Does this count?

The book is called is called ‘Guerrilla Working’ and like all books these days has a sub-title ‘Make the most of your talent by breaking the link between where you work and what you do’. It is fifty eight thousand words long which makes it either a short book or a very long pamphlet. I’ve also written one hundred and twenty thousand words in this blog so far, however and so I could argue that I’ve achieved this one twice.

Today we had one of the three away days that we have planned with the Senior Leadership Team. We held it in the magnificent Town Hall in the centre of Durham. As is tradition now we all went for a festive lunch.

The restructure is coming to its conclusion and this means we have sorted the savings required up until March 2017. Anyone who has been following the news will know that this is not the end of our period of austerity yet we have a window of two years of relative stability ahead of us. We need to use this as an opportunity to set ourselves up to become the organisation we need to be for the next five years, hence the away days.

I started by trying to set the scene. Our market is changing very rapidly and it will only get worse or better depending upon your perspective. Our management structure has served us reasonably well to bring us to where we are but the future is going to be a whole new ball game. We are going to have less money and less resource but higher (or at least different) demand from both within our organisation and from our customers. There are going to be huge advances in technology, some of which we will not be able to imagine. Above all there will be an (uncontrollable) explosion in the amount of data in play.

This led to a useful discussion and I added to the list. I followed this with my thinking on the overall approach to business that we need to adopt, describing a leadership layer, a management layer and small teams of skilled individuals, or companies that can ebb and flow between our differing priorities. We also need to consider how we can turn resource on and off as demand peaks above our core ability which may lead us to playing a more commissioning role in future.

Clearly it is early days yet and there is a long way to go but we agreed the things that we needed to get on with which will set our stall out for our next meetings in January. I promised to type up the notes but I hope I can read them as my writing is getting much worse since I’ve stopped using a pen.

Learning points for today: There’s a juggling club in Durham; you can get catalytic jeans but not underpants as they need light to work; ‘tis the season of wasted storage and bandwidth and; Thai is not really Christmas food.

Today’s enjoyment rating 7/10 – a start but a long road ahead.

2 thoughts on “A year of work in progress – day 215

  1. I’m all in favour of mobility and using technology to assist us with our jobs, ultimately using it as a tool to achieve our real goals, however sometimes it’s not used in the most effective or intelligent way. Today four people covered the service desk, yes we could have taken our laptops and worked from a remote office and been guerrillas or do what we did, use the technology that enabled us to provide the service without leaving our desks. Attitudes and culture are far more of an obstacle than technology, We’ve all been able to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi for years, I literally fixed a service desk job from Barcelona six years ago with a laptop and hotel Wi-Fi.
    I read one of the articles you posted on Twitter and there are just too many obstacles within the structure and bureaucracy of Local Authorities to provide the most effective service possible. People with a different or possibly radical viewpoint are stifled and there ideas are smothered in favour of traditional methods because we’ve always done it that way.
    I wonder how many of your peers have embraced the ethos of being able to work from anywhere, based on my experience of County Hall being the center of the Universe I’d have to say very few. Why would they give up their parking space for a start?
    Buildings must rank as one of the most costly liabilities a large organisation has, why do we have a tiny percentage of home or mobile workers? In a digital world of services being always on and available why do we work 9 ’til 5? Why do I have to print, sign, scan, and email a document to you so you can print, sign, scan an email it to payroll?
    IT Awareness days are held and only a handful of people turn up, the next day we get the same amount of service desk calls as always for topics like “how do I setup email on my phone?”
    IT has the skills, knowledge and demonstrable abilities to save large organisations huge amounts of revenue and improve processes and performance but for the large part we are regarded as people who fix printers and install software. Your Twitter article mentioned IT not being at the big table, well more fool them, or us.

    1. Sorry Andrew that it has taken me so long to respond. I feel and share your frustration. I have tried to lead by example and have been unable to persuade any of my colleagues to come on board at Head of Service level though I have a few people picking up the cause that I see from time to time. My view is that we should use technology when we can (and nothing is that new) and we should use people when it is best (especially to do the things machines can’t). We need to persevere and keep the faith.

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