It's sad but I miss California!!!

A short week after a couple of weeks away – with a combination of West Coast jet-lag and Swindon fever to make it seem more unreal!!

The week actually started on Tuesday with a determined effort to catch up with the e-mails, but in reality Wednesday was my first day back.  It started with a meeting with Allyson – truncated by circumstance – on the prioritisation paper for the Board.  It is proving difficult to frame the case without sounding old and tired, since this issue has been around forever with no credible solution. Then a quick trip to London to meet with Fergus and Chris Stark – at Fergus’s request – to think about procurement. It turns out that Shriti and John Denham have now decided that procurement is the issue de jour and are pressing their teams for initiatives.  Fergus and Chris are working together (something we should celebrate) and wanted to discuss how we had considered using procurement within the Innovation Platforms.  We discussed the options for forward procurement in areas like construction (the LSC and involving DCSF on the construction of schools and colleges), transport (co-ordinating with DfT on their low carbon vehicles programme and extending it to local government), health (working with DoH on Assisted Living and the Whole System Demonstrators) and so on.  I provided a number of contacts for Chris to follow up and will revisit this coming week.  Finally back to Swindon to meet with Paul and Alan Hooper over the “approval” of the Materials Strategy.  This is a problematic area, where many have gone before to identify the areas for focus, but although I still have reservations about a strategy going out with 17 priority areas made up of at least 3 different types of activity, the history of its development and the upcoming timescales made it necessary to let it through.

Thursday saw another meeting of Guy’s sustainability working group.  Guy had issued a straw man document which, although it contained many of the arguments, felt too civil service, so we agreed to re-order it as a more bullish document, focusing on the goal of making money over the long term – which is why any commercial operations would address this issue internally.  Another session with Allyson on prioritisation followed – I still feel we are struggling to communicate our intentions and activities.  Next us was a visit from Dario Leslie for the MoD Counter Terrorist Centre.  They had been put onto us by both Brian Collins and the Foresight crew but had seemingly not heard anything through our interactions with the MoD – which is odd because they work for Chris Mace!!  We discussed overlapping activities but also the opportunity for new stuff.  Dario will bring down a small team to explain the need for identification of “improvised explosive devices” - which sounds like an area ripe for ideas from many of our areas of activity and my well prefigure a small initiative in physical security.

Friday started with a couple of people issues but the main activity was the design of the Digital Economy Sandpit.  This is going to use a new 1-5-1 format, the first day being use to scope the main event with a wider community and the extra day being used to test the ideas with a similarly wider community before the projects are implemented.  What is fascinating to me is the apparent lack of correlation between the main DE team and the Sandpit team.  Still it promises to be fun, with us providing much needed application input to the activity.

Now all I have to do is get my sleeping straight!!




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