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.

Head and shoulders photograph of Neil Williams 6

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.

Photo credit: Janet Hughes.

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