Today marks the end of my first couple of months and bit in the new job, and my last working day before a few weeks of holiday.
Changing a job is a strange experience. Changing a job and organisation at the same time more so. I’ve realised that I haven’t done a change of job within an organisation for about 20 years now, which is quite a long time. But I’ve moved about a bit, so I should be used to it by now.
This change also meant a shift in focus – from heading up a technology and transformation function within a medium-sized organisation to providing services for technology and transformation to much larger organisations. Shifting from client to supplier. Moving from waking up in the middle of the night worrying about operational challenges (yes you, information and cyber security) to waking up in the middle of the night worrying that the right invoices and purchase orders are in place. Not that I wake up in the middle of the night worrying too often.
When you switch jobs and organisations you go from a position of knowledge to a position of ignorance. I knew how the old place worked after nearly three years of doing it. I knew what my job was. I knew the language. I knew the things that were important and those that weren’t. I knew the trump cards that would be played.
In a new role, particularly client-facing, I have two sets of ignorance: of my employer and of my clients. Thankfully the sociologist in me enjoys filling in these gaps. Working out the terminology. Understanding which buttons when pressed operate which bits of organisational machinery.
In client terms, most of my work has been with people working in the Prisons and Probation Service. I’ve been lucky to have done quite a cross-section of government bodies in the last 10 years, but the penal system is not an area I’ve looked at before. It’s fascinating, and brings to mind much of the study of Criminology that I did at university some three decades ago. Not that Prisons and Probation are just about crime.
There are meaty challenges associated with technology and data. There are meaty challenges associated with change. There’s huge opportunity to make a difference. Perfect, really.
In terms of the organisation, Equal Experts, it seems that the organisation really does live up to its name. People have a huge depth of experience. The claims of having a flat structure – people being equal – are true.
The big draw for me to join was the idea of working in an organisation without a formal hierarchy. I found the idea fascinating. It’s even more interesting being involved with it.
At first, especially having come from a business and a sector which is remarkably hierarchical, it’s quite disorienting. I don’t have a boss. So who do I go to when I’m not sure what I should do?
The answer is very similar to what I did when I was working free-range as Stamp. You ask around. There are peers internally and externally. There are people responsible for coordinating particular activities, from Finance to Operations. There are people responsible for coordinating particular lines of business, from Service Design to Data.
We have some formal processes. If you want to do something big, there is the Advice Process. But as a general rule, go where you think you should go.
That’s quite hard work. Especially as I embrace my inner imposter, so customary when doing new things.
After the break, there are a few things on my mind. First, and foremost, is to make sure that the live projects are up and running, the teams are happy and the clients are happy. That’s the cornerstone of my role.
Then, there are some new opportunities we are exploring that we will hopefully get the chance to work on.
Looking a bit longer term, there are some ideas for how we operate as a business, particularly in the realm of helping our people to be able to manage relationships within and outside more effectively.
And then there are some new propositions I’d like to explore; there are some ideas around changing the models for how technology is bought in organisations that I think might have legs, and there’s also some ideas for the development of Data Products in the housing sector that I’d like to flesh out. I’m sure more will come too.
It’s been a long year. Changing jobs is hard work. The last few years have been strange. I’m looking forward to a break.
But I’m also looking forward to getting back, having a busy Autumn, and continuing to explore this new role because, so far, it’s been a lot of fun.
Next week: the tropics
The week in photos: