Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end
07 January 2022 by David Bott
I could not face a “start the week” meeting as the first activity of the new year, so I took a leisurely route in. After catching up with Jools, my first diaried meeting was a catch-up/PDR with Finger Man. It was a good way to ease back into the working world, thinking through how to build on last years successful Digital activities, avoiding the Government induced weirdness and get a better grip on our internal management processes. It led into a Governing Board Preparation meeting, which was fun for me because I had missed all the oddities of the last one, with its discussion of Catapults and the like and so could ask all the questions that begin “we didn’t really agree to that, did we?”
FL asked me to join him for a late afternoon telephone conference with Tim Kelsey (McKinsey but on loan to the Cabinet Orifice), who was still on holiday in Taunton and Nigel Shadbolt, who was still on holiday in South Africa. FL and I were in Swindon, and all we got were the actions! It is fascinating to note the differences in the basic facts that surround the ODI – whose money it is, who has final sign-off and so on!!
The next day started with my biannual health assessment, which was carried out in a new-fangled Wellness Centre, so the blood work came back in less that the 3 hours I was there – just like we said it could be done when we set up Detection and Identification of Infectious Agents all those years ago! (for the avoidance of doubt, I do not have anything infectious wrong with me!) In the afternoon I did an interview with the THES about the ODI – where the journalist apparently wanted me to tell him how much of the money would go to universities. Then it was down to stitching all the component parts of the Delivery Plan for Innovation Programmes together into a coherent whole for the next day……
Thursday was my favourite type of day – a full day Executioners Meeting in Swindon. Actually, it started well with a discussion of PAFs that people had remembered to brief me on, so they went through. Then we had a discussion of what we want to achieve with “networking”, how it fitted with our strategic goals and whether it was what we already had, or whether we needed to change it. Then we got onto the Delivery Plan for 2012/13. Strategy Man talked through the SME Support Package, once again starting from the strategic goals (we are beginning to get the hang of having a strategy!). Then I talked through the draft Delivery Plan for Innovation Programmes, and we discussed how best to explain it to the Governing Board without them wanting to change it based on their “intuition”. It’s good to have a common enemy; it brings out the best in our “one dynamic team”.
Friday was supposed to be a quiet, working at home, catching up sort of day, but fate had intervened to fill it with telephone calls. First up was a call with Declan and Chris of the MRC to prepare for the later call between FL and their CEO (and Declan and me!). We have meetings with the top guys in the MRC and every time they go back into the organisation some amazing force drags them back to old school thinking, so progress feels slow – and with Healthcare Man still on his extended break, I have no reinforcements to send in! However, that pre-meeting gave me enough insight into the MRC CEOs thinking to be able to sneak a couple of our ideas into the “high level” meeting and hopefully nail some of the progress down in an unchangeable manner!
The third call was with a potential CEO for the Cell Therapy Catapult. It was a good chat and I think we have our second credible leader – he understands the context and is not afraid of the environment, having spent parts of his career in both private and public sectors.
Then came a re-run (or was it an update) of the Governing Board pre-meeting we had on Tuesday but with both me and Strategy Man on a telephone. I am sure we accomplished something, if only a series of amusing titled e-mails between Strategy Man and David Way later that day!
Next was a discussion with DECC about a revamped Communications Plan for the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group. The original brochure and website were intended to clear up the confusion between the activities of the Carbon Trust, Energy Technologies Institute and ourselves. The megalomaniacs in DECC see everything we did as part of their master plan to wriggle out of the criticism by the PAC last year, so have put a bright young thing onto the task of updating both. She first went to talk to the DECC Communications Group and has therefore started a proper process that starts with the question “why are we communicating?” and then attempts to design the communications to fit the goal. It was a good discussion and we need to make sure we keep our communications professionals in the loop!
The final call of the day was with the Editor of the Manufacturer about their attempt to compile a list of the 100 most important people in manufacturing. Apparently, they set out with a process that asked leading organisations for their lists and hoped that they would overlap and lead to a shared list. This has not happened and Will was asking for a critical input. We had a great discussion about why some people impress, how some reach out beyond their own field, how some engage with wider issues such as education and so on and I think I ended up being co-opted as another judge. We even decided that people in support organisations were not eligible!! We also talked about Catapults (the Manufacturer have been enormously supportive to date) and I realised that Will hadn’t twigged that the Satellite Applications announcement was the fourth Catapult, so I explained the logic and compared it to the Cell Therapies ones – which (being a bright bloke) he understood. I think he’ll do another piece on Catapults soon now. Then it was the weekend. I had survived the first week of 2012. Bet the second one goes pear-shaped!