Plus ca change, c'est la meme chose

Second week back after a holiday and the nation proudly declares a bank holiday to help me avoid another “start the week” meeting.

Tuesday saw a day of meetings, largely comprising the Executive one.  Innovate is shaping up well, but to judge from Lisa’s increasingly breathless messages, we ought to have started earlier still in the planning.  The away-day still gives us mental indigestion as we try to work out where the Board might be coming from.  Should they be strictly strategic or could we mine their operational expertise?  And lastly, how do we operate?  Do we support the increased use of sustainability or would we rather make a short-term buck? (I guess I may have inadvertently given my viewpoint away there!)  We inserted a preliminary report from Technopolis on the KTN review.  They seem to be drifting towards an analysis that everything is working fine, so the more direct members of the Executive challenged them to produce THEIR recommendations.  

My sense of irony was reinforced when, shortly after the discussion on CRM was finished, we got another e-mail asking for clarification on what we want.  

Wednesday was back into “sorting stuff out” mode.  We are converging on a protocol for expressing our analysis of the 2 proposed Innovation Platforms to the Board and the wider community.  Although they are different in type and rationale, we need to put them (and those that follow them) through a similar process and logical analysis if we are to maintain credibility.

Thursday saw a clash of commitments which the reorganisation only mildly ameliorated. Luckily, Jools rose to the challenge of temporal chess and I flitted between the monthly Innovation Platforms meeting and my role as host to Mark Ferrar, the infrastructure manager of NHS Connecting for Health.  I have reported my first meeting with Mark some time ago and this was the next move in getting him connected to a wider group within the Technology Strategy Board. He gave a short but lucid description of the NHS goals for ICT, listened to the relevant IP monthly reports and then had more detailed meetings with everyone we could think of and persuade to be in Swindon.  He even fitted in a quick but subversive chat with Cyrus about IT equipment.  He had turned up with a Toshiba laptop marginally lighter, but less stylish, than my Air and a Nokia E71 which has been compared in functionality terms to the iPhone, although it takes a different interface and style approach.  If I weren’t an Apple man....  Anyway, his ability to specify and purchase 300,000 PC’s gives him a certain insight and control of the market and Cyrus is looking to explore his procurement pathway compared to the ITC one.  I went down to London with Mark afterwards and he was highly complimentary about our people and approach.  He now wants to organise a wider interaction on his side.

The trip to London was caused by the commitment to meet David Pearson, who is about to take over the chair of the ITSS IP Steering Group.  David took on the equivalent InnovITS role about a year ago and has made real headway.  As it happens Iain had been stood up by Michael Bichard, so he joined us as well. 

Friday saw more meetings, starting with a discussion between Fionnuala, Lisa and I about the “business of shaping the way we live” slot on the Innovate agenda and culminating in the “report” by Technopolis.  This involved the wider group of connectors and was slated as being a bit more detailed than Tuesday’s mildly rambling “it’ll be alright on the night” presentation. Instead they brought along a third member of the team to organise a brainstorm on what we thought we should do.  Call me cynical but I immediately thought of the old joke about the consultant and the watch.  Paul actually mumbled at one point that recommending the termination of any KTN might leave them liable, and they were loathe to go that far.  As it was, Jeff, managed to tell us we were wrong several times and largely refused David’s requests for their input quite late on. We might have been paying but we were obviously not in the driving seat.  The humour level crept up when, during the final session with the full Executive, the connectors seemed to realise the enormity of the task to implement their own recommendations and started back-peddling.  For a group committed to innovation, which always involves change, we seem to be reluctant to actually do it ourselves.  Ho hum.

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