Week notes: 8 – 14 April 2024

Problem narratives, 12 Angry Men, traybake of disappointment, arts/Batmen ranked.

Some BFI weeks I pinch myself. Others, I feel the bumps of dysfunction a little more keenly.  All orgs have them, and I’m optimistic for next week when we’ll tackle some of ours head-on in a 3-day leadership retreat! 

This post resonated

“Companies are filled with (often competing) narratives about what is broken, why, and what to do about it. 

These narratives vary and are heavily influenced by people’s worldview, perspective, tenure at the company, personal experiences, and skills and knowledge (among other factors). We also look to our go-to strengths or tools to solve our version of the problem. […]

As we become more entrenched in our views, we construct a reinforcing loop of self-justification that insulates us from differing perspectives. “It’s obviously a/n [X] problem, and we just need to [Y].”

When two or more people with authority and influence (formal or otherwise) have competing narratives for what’s broken, why, and what to do about it, you can end up with a narrative stalemate. […] The focus shifts from solving the actual problem to winning the narrative battle.”

Ouch! I think I might sometimes be guilty of that – pressing my own version of the problems and how to solve them (agile! service design! mission command! multidisciplinary teams!) Getting exasperated about not being listened to, while not listening enough myself. 

So that was timely reading before hunkering down with my Exec teammates! As a team, we rub along peacefully but are possibly doing better at leading our respective directorates than leading together.

Competing (but never combative!) narratives are part of it but also some simpler stuff like cross-cutting delivery management, having the right inputs and agendas, and measuring what matters, together. But perhaps that’s just my take on the problem and solutions!

All the same, I do have something to impart about the new best way and it’s my job to do so! (In 3 film refs): I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe, taken the red pill of truth, and being the person with that knowledge can sometimes feel like Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men trying to change the rest of a room’s minds. 

My batteries are running a bit low on persuading. It’s 2024 and I’d love to be leading bold and progressive org-wide service design, not still establishing footholds for it to get started. 

Back to John’s post: he’s probably right the answer is telling a better story (not saying the same things more loudly) but it’s ever so hard to explain the end state of digital culture – at some point it takes people to want it enough, trust it and try it.  

[All of which sounds more grumbly than I actually feel and is about the cumulative experience at Croydon and Drinkaware more than where I’m at now. BFI is up for stuff, I love my job, this is the job, and I’m being heard!]

Somewhat related, I’ve pulled out of the running for that CGL Trustee role. As per my last note I deliberated on how I’d find time and whether I care about the mission enough to sustain interest in board packs beyond the honeymoon glow. That plus the 12 Angry Men of being the new, sole digital voice in their boardroom.

I’m now thinking I’d learn/achieve more doing NED work at an org that’s further along in its digital journey, possibly outside the public sector given how much I’ve been there and done that. (And I dunno maybe something a bit cooler?)

(Not without irony). Within my own directorate, things are progressing well and the agile, user-centred delivery culture is going from strength to strength. We’ve got plum BFI Player jobs going for a lead product manager, delivery manager and ops assistant; and will imminently also advertise 2 more product vacancies. Spread the word/come join us!

Those were the big things (in 3 days at work!)

In my days off I took the kids to Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror rooms at Tate Modern. Gallery art isn’t any of our thing (Dylan’s take: “artists are the most insufferable people” 🤣) and we were underwhelmed. But it’s all Insta-friendly (and weeknote featured image friendly) and it was good to get off our screens/arses for a bit.

Such moral integrity

Question: How do you rank the major artforms? I go: film, music, games, novels, [big gap here], all other artforms, [big gap here], any art that’s a commentary on art itself. 

⚝ Minutiae

  • I praised a colleague for her pitch-perfect writing, only to be told she’d copied and pasted words I wrote months ago. How narcissistic of me!
  • Me and my Raynaud’s fingers would like warmer weather consistently now please
  • Anethole is the thing that makes licorice, aniseed and fennel taste alike (i.e. delicious) and isn’t science and nature just marvellous?
  • I am really good at saying “specificity”.
  • Whatever you think of Rishi, he does look great in Adidas creps.
  • I got a minor ticking off for writing IMDB, not IMDb, by IMDb. With my reputation for these brand police slides at GOV.UK (reprising Russell’s original) I am deeply ashamed.
  • I went nuts in the middle of Lidl and came home with armfuls of collapsible tupperware, chopping boards that nest for no good reason, and cheap frying pans. 
  • I tried the Korean chicken burger from FUKO and it was delish, but no Popeyes.

🔎 Found, interesting 🧐

Watching, playing, listening, reading, cooking

👨‍🍳 Stuffed roasted fennel and mushrooms with gruyere, from Rukmini Iyer’s The Green Roasting Tin. You’ve heard of the trough of disillusionment, meet the traybake of disappointment. 

Recipe book open at page for this recipe. Hand written in biro: "NEVER MAKE THIS AGAIN"

👨‍🍳 Much more successful from the same book, a three bean chilli with avocado salsa

📽️ Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. So clever and fun. May its 70m runtime inspire all filmmakers. 

📽️ I endured a rewatch of Deadpool cos the kids wanted to see it and are old enough now. I solemnly swear I will never watch another comic book superhero film that isn’t Batman. Sick to death of superpowers.

📽️ Batman (1989). Ah that’s better. Keaton remains the GOAT caped crusader. And now the boys have seen this we can show them Birdman.

Me and my boys at The Tate Modern this week

Question: how do you rank Batmen? Mine go: Michael Keaton, Adam West, R-Patz, Christian Bale, Will Arnett, Batfleck (despite the flaws) then I don’t much care for the assorted others tbh.

📺 I was 3 episodes deep into showing the kids The People Vs O.J Simpson, when the Juice died. You’re welcome. Also a fun quote here.

🎧 Walk My Way, Yuni Wa and Tim & Coco’s Lack of Pies EP

Continuing: 📓 The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler and 🕹️ Cyberpunk 2077 (pleased to see it got a BAFTA this week).



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