Unfolding plans 75 – having a fresh face helps

A future driven by the customer, that was the message that Paul left us with on his last slide at the presentations.  I’d asked for volunteers from the management team this time as I think having a fresh face helps to keep them well… fresh.  Paul was the first to put his hand up.  He claims he was the last to say no but the rest know what this means.  It will be their turn soon.

We’ve been doing presentations to the whole of ICT Services every other month since I started.  I haven’t worked out the exact number but it must be about thirty five times that we have been through them and it gives me a warm feeling to know that we have managed to keep this going for so long.  Communications are supposed to be the life-blood of an effective organisation.

So, back to Paul.  I gave him carte blanche to cover whatever he was happy with – as long as it was work related and he chose to do two things, firstly to give an overview of what he and his colleagues get up to and secondly to break down some myths about how the people are up in the remote North West of our territory.

For someone who works with technology his presentation was not technical.  It focussed on how we have worked with our customers to identify solutions that are suitable for them by bringing innovative ideas that have adapted what we have rather than changed it wholesale.    He talked about getting to understand their needs, recognising when they are different to others and how the words they use can mean different things in different contexts.  He drew a parallel between the University’s use of super computing and the supercomputer on Ant and Dec’s Saturday night Takeaway.

He talked about Ant and Dec while I talked about Sisyphus.  He got more laughs than me but you can’t say that you don’t get variety in the presentations.

The second issue that he addressed was the impressions that the technical team create in the minds of others.  Each of us forms impressions of other people and other groups.  We can’t help it.  It is part of being human but we can be aware of the fact that we are doing it and start to question the validity of some of the views we hold.  Paul started with all of the jokes that had heard about his team and his colleagues.  There is many a true word spoken in jest however and there is always mud that can be flung the other way.

Such things may start out as good humoured and well-intentioned but it doesn’t take much to turn myths and legends into reality.  Bringing it out in the open gave us the opportunity to check our own feelings in a light-hearted yet serious way.  Hopefully it will help to chip away at some of these impressions.

The sessions were good.  Paul was good.  He is a natural in fact.  I did manage to end on Beowulf though.

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