A year of work in progress – day 222

Day 222 – 23 December 2014

Writing a strategy is hard because I lack a basic skill. Concentration. I just can’t do it. I find it really hard to sit for hours focussed on the same thing. My mind starts to wander. There are three things I can cite in my defence.

One: A strategy is a hard document to write. It has to say everything in as little space as possible. It has to be informative yet entertaining. It has to be detailed enough to give clarity to the direction we are going in yet have enough discretion built in to allow for change. It has to appeal to a wide audience including the highly technical to the absolute novice.

Two: Boredom, yet a study by Dr Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire concluded that most people think of being bored at work as a negative experience, but it can have positive results including an increase in creativity because it gives us time to daydream.

Three: Humans aren’t built that way. Research by Kleitman has shown evidence for the existence of ultradian activity cycles lasting between eighty and one hundred minutes that occur between wakefulness and sleep. Accordingly human performance can be maximised by following a Basic Rest Activity Cycle model (BRAC) with bursts of activity lasting around ninety minutes interspersed with a break of twenty minutes or so.

Back to the strategy which was what I concentrated (tried to) on for most of the day. I’d set up a task to manage the process and created a table of all the things I still need to do including reviewing the sections I’ve completed already, writing some new bits, checking the hyperlinks are still working and drafting a report for the Corporate management Team. I’d listed eighteen things to do and when I started this morning nine had been completed. Of course I had done the easier bits.

I managed to get it all done and posted to the SharePoint site ready for comment. I even shared it with my colleagues in Northumberland as we ought to each have something similar.

My second thing that I was going to achieve this year was to ‘Get to know all tier 4 managers ‘. I didn’t achieve it but I’m not going to regard this as a failure. On refection this was always going to be a difficult task. For a start we’re not clear how many of them we have. The answer is somewhere over a hundred but with all of the reorganisation going on no one is really sure. It has been a very interesting exercise. I’ve learnt about parts of the organisation that I didn’t know existed and my understanding of the council is much greater than it was. In the end I met with over sixty people who are instrumental in helping us to deliver the services that our customers rely upon. People told me that I was mad to do this but in my opinion I would have been mad not to.

Learning points for today: we should be committed to what is good; I’ve been scuppered by old technology (locked out of the video conferencing room) and; there are some issues that seem to be intractable.

Today’s enjoyment rating 7/10 – good to have the strategy put to bed.

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