Week notes 3rd April 2017

View from the room terrace!

I’ve fallen out of the habit of regular blogging for lots of reasons but I intend to get back to it.  I find it a hugely helpful part of reflective practice and also core to an action research approach to the world which has been pretty embedded in me ever since my Phd.  I will over the next few months be processing some of my recent learning (or extreme ethnography!) but I also want to capture what I am up to now in real time.

Big week this week – I’ve started my new job at Cancer Research UK and have begun the process of meeting the team and understanding what the priorities are.  I’m (slowly) starting the thinking about what we are going to shape going forward.

Good news! The team is fab – have met a collection of really committed and talented people that I am so pleased to be working with. There is also some great stuff happening across the whole team – more on which at a later date.

My focus this month is going to be on listening – we will need to make some decisions about structure and process and all that good stuff but my first priority is making sure that we’re making those decisions with the right information.

I’ve started that process with 121 meetings with the people that report directly to me and with an open session with everyone from the team which I will repeat at the end of the month. Slightly nervewracking but it felt really important to actually get out there and meet people as soon as possible.

Next up different groups are going to put together short show and tell sessions for me (and anyone else who is interested) to better understand what different roles do and what they need. I’m really looking forward to these! We’re thinking these will organised these in a ‘day in the life’ format but I’ll be leaving it to the teams to work out how best to do this.  Interpretative dance is still on the table….

I was able to start getting up to speed before I started the role and so my own todo list is starting to come together – but I know this will change based on the input I get from the team.

I want to use these week notes to hold myself to account with respect to my intention to spend this first month listening – but also to use them as I have always used my field notes to work through my own thinking and questions. As a starting point my questions are:

  • Do we as an organisation have a clear view on what technology, and digital more widely, can do to support our core purpose?
  • Do we have a theory of change? Do we know how we are making things different as well as how we want them to be?
  • Are we asking ourselves the big questions with respect to technology strategy?
  • What do our users – internal and external – need from us?

I also have some less formed questions about PMO and portfolio management – linked back to some of the method work I’ve been doing over the last year. In my mind this is all about getting the right balance between different methods and approaches but with an organising narrative that helps it all come together.

Its fascinating coming into an organisation that is so clear on its core purpose – the clarity is amazing and provides the framing for everything else. As a leader this is a tremendous gift.

Speaking of gifts – and this is a big one – I’m also very aware that we are spending money that has been given to us by real people in trust and that we have to confident that we are using it wisely and be prepared to justify this. This is not a reason not to be bold – in fact it should be seen as a demand that we are bold – but carefully and with evidence.

So – an exciting week – but as I said to the team when we met if we keep talking and retain a sense of humour we should be fine!

Happy weekends.

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