A trip down to Manchester seemed like a pleasant day out. I was asked to go down and speak at the North West regional meeting of Socitm. The invitation had come about when Paul and I had met at the Local CIO Council and he was one of the people who had seen my book. He had come up to our meeting to see what we were up to and so Graham and I were to reciprocate.
I thought I could go down on the train, spend some time at their meeting, go and visit the Christmas markets before wending my way home. But the best laid plans have a way of coming undone.
No sooner had it been organised then a Digital Durham board was placed in the afternoon which meant I could be down there for a couple of hours at most. Still, that would be enough time to get a feel for what they were up to, give my presentation and still be back in time.
Of course we had three degrees of frost that morning which was enough to put our rail system into melt down (surely a freeze down?). A derailment and some broken points meant that every train in the whole of the UK was delayed and by the time I got to the city I had about an hour and a half. The location was twenty minutes stiff walking from the station and so I had literally 30 minutes to present and no time to go shopping.
After I had finished I tanked my way back to the station only to find the train was forty minutes late and was left on the platform sweating and fuming. I got back in time for any other business.
That aside, the presentation went well from my perspective. I wanted to explain how we were trying to present a different kind of service, one in which we allow our team as much freedom as we can to operate. Freedom from location, freedom from hierarchy and freedom from dogma.
One of the audience asked me if this approach had had an effect upon our performance measures. His question threw me as I had never really thought about it. In truth I don’t measure much in terms of performance. Perhaps half a dozen numbers are swimming around my head at most and these are more to do with the general welfare of the service rather than hard metrics. I am not aware of any degradation in these measures following our approach, indeed I am confident that support for the service is as high as it has ever been within its general user base.
Perhaps I should add freedom from performance metrics to my mantra.