A year of work in progress – day 220

Day 220 – 19 December 2014

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to navigate in space? I mean deep space. Back here on Earth in a sort of Euclidian way it is easy. We can safely assume that getting from B to A is just the reverse of getting from A to B. If we find that we’re lost we can get out our compass and head off relative to magnetic north.

In space though there is no north or south, there is no up or down. We can travel to the Moon and back only because we know that the Earth is in sight at all times. But imagine if we could come to an absolute stop. The Earth is hurtling around the Sun at as much as one hundred thousand kilometres an hour and the Sun is spinning around the centre of the galaxy at I don’t know what unimaginable speed. Our galaxy is also moving away from other galaxies at an ever increasing pace.

If we could truly stand still then our universe would have changed beyond comprehension in a matter of seconds. If we could truly stop then it would be impossible to ever get back. All of our experience is relative but relative to what?

I’m telling you this because, in a way, this is how it feels like to manage demand within the service. Huge celestial bodies with their gravitational pull are swirling around in all directions and we somehow have to find a way to navigate through them. What is in vogue today will be the tank top of tomorrow and if we stop, even just for a moment, we will be lost forever in space and time.

‘Understand Demand’ was the fourth of the ten things I was going to achieve this year. We’ve made progress but not to the extent that I could tick this off. Like flow, demand is a word that we know what it means but do not understand. We’ve done a fair bit of analysis and produced some pretty pictures but it is a long way from being part of our DNA.

Today was the last day at work for many of my colleagues. Tony and I had our last catch up on Digital Durham for the year. We’ve passed about a third of the properties in the whole programme and about half of those in Durham. Demand is on track and I’m confident we can say that this has been a great year. I also had my last meeting with the unions and with my Portfolio Holder.

Steve and I met to make a decision on which organisation to go forward with on our Big Data demonstrator. After long and careful deliberation we decided to go ahead with a small consortium. I wrote to all the successful organisations and the unsuccessful and will arrange something in the New Year once I’ve heard if everyone is happy with the arrangements.

Learning points for today: Only 15% of people in the North East go to university; the angel on the top of the Christmas tree is a symbol of hierarchy and repression; bring your own device has replaced Jenga as the term-end toy of choice and; you can eat too much before Christmas.

Today’s enjoyment rating 8/10 – everything is starting to quieten down.

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