Week notes: 26 February – 2 March 2024

Craig David, risk logs vs real problems, unavoidable pricks.

Wrote this one as I went along (Craig David style) cos my weekend was too packed for blogging. 

I did some work on…

Monday 

My day started and ended with superb chats with two brilliant BFI Governors who both boss it at household-name tech companies for their day jobs: Jay first thing and Laura last thing. Lucky as hell to have access to these marvellous minds; and grateful to have my cracking team alongside me to a) wow them and b) soak in their wisdom. (Also reassuring to hear some challenges are the same whether you’re a charity, the 6th largest games company or 2nd richest firm in the world!)

Between those chats, I felt rough as old boots. What had seemed a mild sniffle at home was a full-on head cold out in the wild. Atishoo.

🔗 Keith sent me this Guardian piece about aphantasia. Awareness is spreading. 

📺 More F1 Drive to Survive and Marion & Geoff. (Male heartbreak in cars).

📽️ Thelma and Louise. (Opposite). 

Tuesday

1-1 with Paul (BFI Player). Exciting stuff in the works across product, partnerships, content, marketing and editorial.

I poked about in Figma at the latest design mockups from Re for the Player sign-up journey and subscription landing page. Radical improvements are coming thanks to tip-top multidisciplinary teamwork. 

Exec Board. Included useful discussion on cybersecurity ahead of the update to governors next week; and reviewing the collections policy for the National Film and TV Archive which deepened my understanding of their work. 

Joel’s play. He’s a reluctant but natural actor and did so well on 4 days rehearsal as a last minute sub. I’m well impressed and proud. We celebrated/rewarded ourselves with Dominos. 

📽️ Days of Heaven at BFI Southbank cancelled cos I’m full of cold (and it would have been a mad dash to get to Southbank after the play).

📺 Buzzcocks and Drive to Survive. Latter had me reflecting on leadership styles, as Mercedes investors and Toto Wolff piled pressure on engineers to make marginal gains. I’m more of a ‘trust and inspire’ than ‘hit the targets or else’ kind of boss, but you can’t deny pressure also works (just not sustainably).

🔗 Dan Taylor Watt shared a useful comparison grid on gen-AI tools

🔗 Scott Aaronson on the problem of human specialness in the age of AI

 👀 Crap Wonka 

Wednesday 

Main thing was my senior leadership team meeting. Lots to share and discuss, plus a review of our risk log. 

Risk logs though, eh? Important, necessary, dull, guesswork, false comfort, less useful than just-in-time problem solving and continuous de-risking by multidisciplinary teams – but there’s value in periodically thinking through the big picture, spotting gaps and taking a longer view. 

Met the guy who’s doing our software audit. Caught up with the wonderful Iain. Bashed through various bits the rest of the day. Sneezed less. 

Took a work call while out on a walk and it was a good call (I love a walk and talk) but fool’s Spring led to Raynaud’s regret. 

Something that’s leapt up my priority list: tendering a framework for fast flexible resourcing. Quite drawn to the pros of blending in-house and ad hoc talent from trusted partners, as well as being more nimble.

🔗 AI videos: creepy, boring, remixed

🔗 The product kata (an old post by Melissa Perri recently highlighted here). Love this stuff – set a big destination, solve little problems to get there. 

📽️ Kneecap. Irish language rap docudrama.

📽️ Some of The Masque of the Red Death. Vincent Price up to no good.

🎧 Cont. Things Fell Apart S2. So many holy shit stories (“excited delirium”, “the great reset”, WTAF?)

Thursday

Breakfast with the wonderful Russell Davies at Balance. OMG it was SO nice to catch up and I got loads out of it! We talked about blogging, Do:Interesting, PowerPoint, Microsoft Vs Google, and…

  • organisational inertia. The challenge in most orgs busy with their BAU isn’t re-tooling the strategy, it’s delivering anything. So momentum, protecting teams and continuous steering are what matters.
  • injecting energy. The pros and cons of different leadership styles we’ve worked under/used at GDS and since (and seen on F1 Drive to Survive!)
  • relentless clarification, and just doing the thing you’d readily confide to a coach most needs doing, as per CEO coaching methods that worked for Sam Altman (links below).
  • stopping things, and admiring companies that are skilled at starting and killing experiments – like Apple, and X the Moonshot Factory.
  • unavoidable pricks. Like hedgehogs, humans can’t get close without harming each other, so it’s helpful to say up front “this change will be painful” and keep talking about our unintended impacts.

Aside on hedgehogs: the Wikipedia entry on Schopenhauer’s hedgehog’s dilemma has echoes of the prime directive in agile retrospectives, which is such a powerful tool for harmonious teams:

“Despite goodwill, humans cannot be intimate without the risk of mutual harm, leading to cautious and tentative relationships” 

Further in the article, Schopenhauer’s original text says the safe distance people create to endure being together despite their “many unpleasant and repulsive qualities and insufferable drawbacks” is politeness and good manners. Which elsewhere we also know as ruinous empathy. So… talk about each other’s sharp spikes and keep working on how to work together safely. Do retros, basically!

Cinema tech check-in. Routine update on ops and delivery from the miracle-working, well-oiled machine of projectionists, DCP wranglers and remastering producers. So busy, always. Big Banana Feet (dug up by Doug and lovingly remastered) is premiering at Glasgow Film Fest. Lots of nifty upgrades coming this year to our cinemas and projection booths.

Coffee and OKR talk with Peter Kappus and Colette. To pick just two things: using fist to 5 voting to really find out how confident the team is about the KRs, and a recommended read: Turn the Ship Around, David Marquette.

We had sad, sudden news about a supplier and had to make speedy changes to keep our customer service going. (🧐 Hmm, risk logs. This wasn’t on there, and we just dealt with it).

🔗 Thanks to Russell’s tip-off, here’s CEO coach Matt Mochary’s Method, Curriculum, and book: The Great CEO Within. There is so much good free stuff to dig into here! 

🔗 Pinterest’s Pyramid OKRs (via the above)

📽️ Silver Haze preview and drinks with BFI patrons. Really liked it. Out 29 March.

Friday 

Exec standup, planning ahead for some planning days. Catch-up with Mark (corp tech). More unexpected news about a different supplier, and a really badly-timed problem with a projector on Dune 2 opening day (the risk gods are clearly punishing me for questioning the value of trad risk management! But also: these events couldn’t have been avoided and we responded well). Otherwise: the to-do list. Won’t bore you with that.

Played (briefly) with viva goals, it’s pretty good. Can’t fathom why it has no confidence scores though given they’re a vital element of OKRs. 

🔗 The origins of eye-movement tracking 

👀 This shocker of a real life murder conviction. (I’m sorry my brain works this way but I really hope someone has optioned the TV doc rights).

📽️ Some of The Fly (1958) cos it was on TCM. Vincent Price up to no good again! Shot in colour but Joy remembers it being b/w – turns out that’s a retcon phenomenon others share.

I chilled on…

Saturday 

The usual ferrying of Joel to his BRIT Kids class (with extra frisson of today being the BRIT Awards) then meeting our new niece / the boys’ new cousin Evie. So cute!

📽️ And then to the BFI IMAX for Dune Part 2. It’s an epic spectacle but I didn’t love it even half as much as I expected to. I mostly put that down to the Frank Herbert source.

🔗 “Bad” strategy, why? by John Cutler. Several echoes of the chat with Russell.

🔗 3 great links in Jukesie’s jobsletter today:

Sunday 

📽️ Today was all about the private cast and crew screening of Joy’s fab first feature 7 Keys. Awesome to see it on a big screen & hear it through big speakers, something I’ve been looking forward to for months. Even better to witness the creative team seeing it for the first time. Next stop: SXSW (although not for house husbands). 

🎧 Finished Things Fell Apart S2. Open to new podcast recommendations!

🕹️ Finished Cocoon which fully deserves its accolades. Cyberpunk 2077 awaits!

Byeee!

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