The road to mediocrity is paved with good intentions
13 February 2020 by David Bott
Another “start the week”, although one noted for a bit more knowledge transfer than usual – perhaps people are withholding information to make these meetings more interesting? It was followed by a catch-up with Jools on the plans for the next few weeks – which seem to change every time I check my calendar – then a quick discussion with Maurizio about what I need to say to the Future Internet group meeting in a few weeks time. We decided to assemble some facts that with align with the potential impact we are now thinking in terms of. Then I worked through my inbox awaiting a promised call from OSCHR that never materialised, before a meeting with Fearless Leader. It was supposed to be about other things but turned into a rapid download of information about our Digital Britain activities so that he didn't look foolish when discussing all things digital with the Edelman dinner crowd on Tuesday evening. We really ought to be more joined up on these things – with our reputation for making things happen, we need to keep up with our achievements and intentions and every part of our organisation is moving fast at the moment, so we can’t afford to silo.
One of the joys of the last few months has been the institutionalisation of the Low Carbon innovation Group. This was originally set up as a shadow group to ensure that the regular meetings between Fearless Leader and his counterparts at the Carbon Trust and Energy Technologies Institute had something to talk about – a bit like the preparation for political summits. It met every 3 months and worked well enough for DECC to want to join (by which they meant take over) so its membership was duly enlarged and DECC set to arranging meetings. We haven’t met since, so the three mouseketeers decided to have a telephone meeting and a proper meeting – DECC decided to take over the proper meeting date, so we had the telephone call to fix the agenda – and the output!! :-) The Carbon Trust were concerned that we were operating in the Marine area and getting more coverage that them – interesting to note that we included them in our publicity, but they didn't include us in theirs. ETI were just concerned. A common theme was that both other organisations were keen for us to support one another through the current negotiations and posturing about future funding. I sense the Carbon Trust are going to make a play to be pre-eminent on the low carbon area, but I could have caught paranoia from David Evans. The evening saw another round of discussions with Sebastian Conran about the Plastic Electronics sandpit, which mostly consist of me telling him what he can’t do, and a long chat about what the Design and Technology Alliance could do next.
The next morning was the Steering Group for the Network Security Innovation Platform and Andrew had asked me to explain the inaccurately named “metrics and measures” work. I used the front sheet and the bubble diagrams and went through the impact logic. It was pointed out to me that the sizes of the bubbles and some of the position were inconsistent but otherwise they got the idea and we had a productive discussion about impacts. I let them get to the “we can make these numbers bigger” moment before pointing out that we were constructing a business plan and thus we would be judged on achieving these numbers – a nice balancing trick I learned off an accountant years ago. I then met with Mark Edwards (from Pfizer but currently on secondment to OSCHR) and found out what the Monday telephone call might have been about and we worked through the question – building on an earlier meeting OSCHR had had with Zahid. As the sun sank and took the temperature with it, I wandered down to the House of Commons for an Institute of Physics reception. The excuse was the publication of another “without
The next morning started with a briefing from Le Golding on the upcoming UKTI meeting (where I am impersonating Fearless Leader whilst he straps bits of wood to his feet and falls down mountains covered in snow). I am suitably in awe. Then a visit from Mike Pitts of CIKTN to discuss some of the ideas they are coming out with about linking sustainability and the supply chain. Very nice ideas and we will keep in touch with their progress in case we can use them. I then had lunch with Victoria Atherstone – of Urbanites and Scooters and School for Start-ups. Doug Richards had asked me to talk to her last year but he had then distracted her from her electric scooters project to do some S4S work. She was now back on the case and wanted to catch-up. I added a few more names to her target list and wished her luck. I then met up with Lady Claire and Richard Miller for a discussion about the Clean and Cool Mission media plan. I sensed that Claire was a little frustrated with the Edelman support we are getting because she kept pointedly assigning tasks to the young man who is working with us and checking that he understood. I was scared and I wasn’t the target! I rushed off to join the first meeting of the Stratified Medicine Planning Group at the MRC. Joe and Angela are doing sterling work drawing the arguments together, but we seem to keep having to tell Declan that it’s not a foregone conclusion and that it won't be announced in May!! John Stageman is well into his role as co-chair but Martin Wilkins (the other one) was pretty quiet until the young padawan asked him a direct question when important reservations about process and output came out and changed the course of the discussion. After that, the young padawan and I walked down to the British Museum for a discussion between Christopher Frayling and Jeremy Myerson in front of a luvvy audience. It was actually quite fascinating and – because we were sitting in the front row and had talked to the stars beforehand – the Technology Strategy Board got a mention, this time for our sponsorship of the Materials and Design Exchange as part of the Materials KTN. After the meeting, I talked to Sebastian and discovered that no-one had told him about the press release about the Hot Products either and he (apparently) raised it at the Design Council meeting the next day. We have now had several versions of a mea culpa from bits of the Design Council – with the exception of the person who caused it all. C’est la vie.
Thursday was mostly taken up with an Executioners Meeting. Going through the standard business, I was struck by how many things don't get done but that we move on with no real continuity between meetings. There has to be a better way.
Friday was spent working from home, managing to include the much delayed briefing with the project manager we have got in to run the smart meters/smart girds work, mastering posting my own blog onto the website and generally catching up – and luckily there was no good television in the evening to stop me, so I did make a lot of stuff “go away”.