About

Who I am, what this is.

Hello. I’m Neil, a digital leader in London, currently doing my dream job at the BFI. This is my personal online journal and scrapbook.

Work

I lead happy, high-performing digital and technology teams in organisations with a public purpose.

Increasingly, I’d say I’m a digital-first COO, creating the conditions for service design and agile delivery to thrive. 

At the moment I do that at the BFI, working to make it digital-first by its centenary in 2033.

In my last job I shook things up at Croydon Council.

Before that, I helped revolutionise government services at GDS where I led GOV.UK from inception to its 7th birthday.

I cut my teeth in Whitehall web teams and Downing Street grid meetings, having started out in magazines.

Life

I live in Crystal Palace in south London with my wife and our two sons. 

I prefer films, board games and rollercoasters to concerts, sports and parties. 

I’m alcohol-free, having realised by 40 I’d had enough. I like to think my not drinking is a rebellious, counter-cultural act – just like young me thought drinking was in the first place.  

I recently discovered most people can see pictures in their mind. Incredible! I’ve never been able to do that – a condition called aphantasia – and as a result only dimly recall past experiences – a condition called severely deficient autobiographical memory (SDAM)

I think that’s partly why I’m into things that are a bit twisted, dark, surprising or subversive – because they’re more vivid and memorable.

I grew up on a farm in Devon, and lived in Nottingham for 4 years before settling in London.

This site

This is a personal blog.

I post here about what I’ve been doing, thinking and learning (and forgetting!) – including tangential stuff about work. But I save proper work stuff for proper work channels. Here’s more on what week notes are and why I write them.

I started this current blog in October 2023, but used to have one called Mission Creep at this domain from 2008-2011 (archived here). I might resurrect selected posts at some point. 

Other past writing and talks

I’m proud to be mentioned in:

  • Digital Transformation at Scale, Greenway, Terrett et al.
  • Sense & Respond, Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden

You can connect with me on Instagram, Threads, Bluesky, Twitter/X, LinkedIn, Facebook, Goodreads, Letterboxd and Boardgamegeek. (One too many here, and we all know which one).

If you’re wondering, the OJ in the URL stands for my middle names, Owen James.

Get an occasional email reminding you this blog exists: