The end of January has hurtled towards us, the evenings are slowly getting lighter and it is making such a difference to my wellbeing, especially this week as I’ve delved into complex areas. So, to this week: from personal sharing to team away days, to working in the open, and the value of open systems, open standards, I’ve been more aware of how my world has always been about the value of openness-in thinking, in exploration, in community, in doing.
What have I been doing?
I connected with the new community manager for Defence Connect, good job that. This brought back all the memories of my early days pushing the Defence Gateway, an internet facing platform to host productivity tools, communication and places to share, starting with the Royal Naval Reserves (RNR) who jumped onboard. Just like at Morrisons many years later, the sharing platform we launched was the hook to being online, the motive for joining and being engaged: together for personal motive which we could grow into value for business motive. Motive is nothing new for wanting to do something, and listening to users to find out what would delight, or make their lives easier: find their hook and win them over…all user focussed and the focus of my DBA. I listened to Martha Lane Fox on R4, Prof Sue Black on with Naga and other eminent speakers/personalities driving this agenda. It makes me proud to be working alongside these fabulous people all aiming to make lives better, but also I wish I could be doing more!
Lots of Business Planning and mapping, and more planning. Lots of COVID data exploration. Lots of meetings and enabling some fruity progress in “stuff”, and I realise what I can’t write in the open. So.. meetings. sigh not very helpful is it.
I opened and was delighted to support a career development course. Finding time for self reflection and exploration is hard always, especially now and I’m really pleased my teams are open to these courses, and I’ll always support personal development if people wish to partake. We are also maximising before the end of the FY all Learning and Development opportunities. My teams have chosen courses and this week there has been sessions on creative thinking and effective brief writing. Moments of joy is hearing what others take from these sessions. Investing in our teams: boom, happy times. Joy also brought in sessions with mentees and a mentor. Abstracting from the norm of the day to day and valuing their ideas to stretch mine, plus a catch up and gossip added light to the days.
I was asked to hold a career talk which over 100 attended. Honestly, It was really challenging. I have never ever been so open, so soul searching to all the things throughout my life which have shaped me, which I have battled with interwoven with the opportunities and support I’ve been given. It was scary stuff and its delved into memories I had shut away or closed off. It has led to much brain ache as I relive and reflect. Anyway, I hope at least one person found one element of the session useful. It wasn’t perfect, but I guess nor am I. I was grateful for the feedback and thoughts shared with me after the session. In the process I found lots of old photos, including this one. My first 3D model and use of this in Augmented Reality. I was a tad proud (all v complex skills which stretched my brain a lot….)
It then brought lots of laughs to hold a mini away afternoon with my direct reports sharing our favourite holiday spots, our values and then some time for them, with them, to work on each personal purpose. Having a purpose is so valuable I’ve found. In times needing resilience, when stretching creativity, when trying to lead as best as I can to allow other’s to shine, my purpose has helped me through. Some people find them very personal. So I’ll hold mine as my twinkling North Star close to me.
What am I thinking?
Its been a tough week. From personal depths to tough conversations. To teams who I try and protect from chaff, from admin, from faff. Things that detract from being excellent and delivering. However, sometimes that has not always possible and I don’t like that, and they don’t like it: its a waste of emotive energy and causes friction. So I’m constantly trying to find new ways to play “whack a mole” and help them more! (Ideas welcome!)
Our first new leader arrives next week and its going to be busy ensuring they are set up.
Odd one.. thinking about my parents. My dad is a scientist and wintered over in Antarctica several times (oh the stories and slides. wow.) When they were dating, my mum was due to fly from NZ on a sightseeing trip over the base so she could wave but for some reason she couldn’t go and the plane she was supposed to be on crashed into Mt Erebus. Clearly exceptionally sad. Over 40 years later, today she is taking a day trip to fly over the key sights of Antarctica and to see for herself where my dad has been talking about for many many years and the lab he ran at McMurdo sounds. Or not talking… but we’ve dragged out from him, or from his friends. Years later to recognise his work, he had 3 nunataks named after him. His humility meant we found out by accident, years later, when we found the letter. A wonderful day when I worked at the UK Hydrographic Office was when I took them to the archives. The team were incredibly kind and laid out awe inspiring charts and papers from, and of, Antarctica and artefacts of the explorers tracking through the years of curiosity, discovery, and adventure. Words I live by. Words to keep close as I enter a new week, a new month and new exploration.
A late add… fresh from the camera… egg white peaks.. sorry Antarctica from the air today. Nature never fails to inspire me... so much untrodden expanse. What a world we have.