Week notes: 3 – 9 June 2024

What you got, too much perspective, recombobulation.

“Bloody hell, how much water do you drink in a day?!” exclaimed a colleague this week while I downed a pint of water on a Teams call. I remember Dave being similarly bemused by my sudden on-screen water guzzling in Croydon.

I do drink a lot of water (and coffee, perhaps there’s a link!) and find that when I don’t, I quickly get headaches and muscle tension in my shoulders and neck. Is this the kind of content you came for? Well it’s the kind you’re getting. 

A still image of Ricky Gervais eating some avocado on toast. The avocado has been sliced not smashed. The caption reads "Is that what you wanted?" "It's what I've got". (Source:  scene from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee)

Some more pre-election guidance-proof vagueblogging about work: this week was dominated by the same mono-focus. With the help of a cross-organisation team, I finalised a (rather excellent if I do say so) business case and talked to fellow execs about it individually and together. They got it and are supportive. We all want to be very sure before diverting scarce funds to below-the-line stuff at the expense of services we love, so we’re being agile about it, green-lighting some initial spend while interrogating the ongoing overhead thoroughly and benchmarking against peer bodies at speed. 

It was fun and refreshing to do some of those benchmarking chats. I had calls with the National Theatre and the British Library. Colleagues made similar calls and we’re all finding it uplifting. Turns out it’s overdue: BFI had fallen between the stools of performing arts and GLAM regular tech meet-up invite lists – which we will now rectify!

I had coffee with Edward Venning, my old boss from DLUHC (it was ODPM and DCLG back then), now running his own consultancy after plum roles at Southbank Centre and UAL. We hadn’t spoken for 15 years. He had lots of consultanty/coachy advice for me including: 

  • that digital often gets wrongly positioned on the efficacy rather than value proposition side of the business model canvas (i.e. predicated on savings and growth, not better services)
  • spotting the difference between a “soft yes” and a “hard yes” when looking for an org culture that gets that right, and will mandate and fund meaningful service transformation
  • focusing on points of leverage: where to put yourself to affect meaningful change; and figuring out what you care about on the career triangle of status, interest and money

…all of which sounds like I’m looking for a career move but I’m not. It was more of a general chat about the paths we’ve each gone down. Ed is relishing being post-public sector. 

All interesting and thought-provoking perspectives. External chats ftw! 

Animated gif from Spinal Tap. The band are sitting on a bench in a row. One says "It really puts a perspective on things doesn't it?" Another replies "Too much. There's too much fucking perspective now"

The soffits are done. That money is gone. 🤷‍♂️

Dyl’s GCSEs are still going well, taking it in his stride. 

I did Bodypump and PT, cancelled out by chocolate and takeaways.

This week is my booze-free anniversary – 8 years.

🔎 Found, interesting 🧐

Project Vs product funding (or “modernisation shouldn’t even really be a thing”) by Jennifer Pahlka. I’ve been sharing this all week. Nails why serial finite funding is the cause of so much pain.

The oddness of the political moment by James Plunkett. Contains no party politics, just brilliant thoughts on the jarring weirdness of the times – like “life is futuristic, but politics feels nostalgic”. 

This YouTube interview with Jean-Michel Lemieux of Shopify and Atlassian is 👌, but in particular this bit on “Time Horizon friction” – basically how meetings about plans for work you’re not yet doing slow down all the work teams are doing. (Also, Michael Keaton vibes).

Related – this from John Culter on estimating work:

A cartoon about estimating how long something will take. It depicts an iceberg, with a list of "this stuff" above the water which is two items (level of effort, and complexity), and a huge list of "other stuff" below the water line including things like handoffs, approvals, 1-1 meetings, status reporting, vacations and sickness.

I shared the GDS incident playbook with a BFI colleague and he shared Google’s postmortem culture and template. All dead useful. 

As is this job description library from LOTI (via Sam V’s blog).

Mark Hurrell on his practice of collecting screenshots.

Steph’s request for exit interview questions turned up great questions we should probably just ask ourselves and our colleagues anytime. 

Enjoyed 25 memorable moments in the BFI IMAX’S first 25 years.

Listening, watching, playing, reading, cooking

In cinemas:
🎬 Tigritudes Early Archive Shorts, kicking off a season at the BFI of pan-African underseen gems. 

At home: 
🎬 Saturday Night, a behind the scenes doc about making an episode of SNL, prompted by Joy listening to Tim Heidecker on Adam Buxton. 
📺 Likewise, several episodes of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and On Cinema At The Cinema which is a subtle but searing parody of crap online movie criticism. 
🎬 A Quiet Place Part II. Inessential. 
📺 First ep and first recoupling ep of Love Island. Probably not got the time to go exclusive with it this year. 

Books:
🎧📓 So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. I’m back on the Ronson.

Sounds:
🎧 Orbital III (2024 remaster)
🎧 Machinedrum new album 3FOR82
🎧 Revisited FKA Twigs’s glorious LP1 
🎧 Croydon BRIT alumna Raye’s latest

Eats:
🍳 I cooked banana bread. I don’t expect you to be impressed, it’s just a fact. Joel has been deliberately not eating bananas so I’d make it.

Distractions

Is that what you wanted? Hope so, there will be more next week.

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