Unfolding plans 6 – Mentoring is something I’ve never done before

Mentoring is something I’ve never done before (third or second thing this year?).  Last year the Senior Leadership Team was asked if this is something we could provide and towards the back end of last year we all attended some training and offered our services to the wider management group.  Everyone was offered a first and second choice mentor and after a bit of shuffling everyone is getting their turn.  Neil from Northumberland and his team are involved as well.

My diary for January is very tight and so I sent out invites to my five on a first come first served basis.  Of course as soon as I had this arranged then up popped an invitation to the Corporate Management Team to talk about the proposed technical architecture and several had to be rearranged.  I had one last Thursday, two on the Friday and a couple later this week.  We’ve agreed to meet three times over the next three months to see how we get on.

So how do you get started with something you’ve never done before?  I had a think and got underway with some simple questions: tell me about yourself; what are you hoping to get from the mentoring and; why me?  Fortunately those who I have met so far had done their own preparation and there was some significant overlap between our approaches.  They have started well and it looks like they will turn out to be an interesting initiative.

The ever-widening coverage of our wireless network is making life so much easier, especially if you are one of the small but growing band of people that carry their technology with them.  Today I sat down in five different offices, in three different buildings (one of which I had never been to and didn’t know existed) and in two different towns.  At each place I was able to open my laptop and continue where I left off.  Even Tony, who has been our resident Luddite, has caught the bug.

The wireless access gives the service and the organisation the possibility of being flexible but not completely.  Using your lap top outdoors is an issue (you need a lap or something to rest on).  This is the space for the tablet.  They are light, portable and accessible.  Combined with a mobile card then they can work almost anywhere but you knew that already.

Demand for tablet use is growing enormously.  The trend over the last year or so has been to move from desktop to laptop but now it is to tablet.  Hybrid devices are becoming very attractive.  A meeting with the Business Durham team highlighted the need for devices that can be used in the field.  Derek and I met up with them to understand their need and to identify some suitable options.  I thought that I had well understood the reasons behind mobile devices and the benefits of tablets over laptops but I had missed one.  Status.

I don’t mean status as in the Chief executive should have a tablet and the lower ranks a desk top.  No, I mean the way that the device portrays the status of an organisation.  Turn up at a conference with a laptop and you are seen as low investment.  Turn up with a tablet and you are seen as Generation Y.  There is very little which we do as an organisation that cannot be done on a laptop or phone except to improve our image.

Are we as a business community that shallow?  Perhaps but if we are to promote the county as a place to do business then we need to present the right impression.  Tablets all round then?

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