Partly that was because of all the stuff that I wrote about back then. But in hindsight it was also in large part because I had reached the end of the line in what I could meaningfully achieve in my last job.
The work had gone from being the catalyst for change into delivery, and I’m much stronger in the former than in the latter. A change was needed. And four months later a change was to come.
With a bit more space, I think the thing that was my biggest achievement in my role in Housing was to get an organisation of modest means and size to think properly about data before getting embroiled in the messy business of systems changes. To have it done in that order is unusual even in large-scale organisations. It’s also, to my mind, crucial.
I think I also learned a lot about making an in-person organisation work in a distributed fashion. I took the opportunity of the pandemic to hire key people who lived in places that simply weren’t commutable to the office. People who we simply wouldn’t have considered in the years before Covid. People who we couldn’t have lured into working if it relied on them having to regularly commute to an obscure bit of South West London.
And then when you commit to working in a distributed fashion, you change how you do things. You make building connections and trust more explicit. You make social events really matter. You learn that maybe the valuable bits of meetings before the pandemic weren’t the meeting bits.
My first seven months at Equal Experts have been a blast. Not plain sailing, by any means. A couple of my early client engagements have had all sorts of challenges. But I’m working with people who seem to value my experience and views, and being outside of a management hierarchy where the role of superiors is to challenge rather than support (and that’s a common trait in most organisations in which I’ve worked, not a particular issue at RHP) is hugely refreshing.
It can be disorienting though, too. We are all quite used to having managers at work. Not having managers is weird. Good, but weird.
Outside of work, we saw the end of a load of 50th birthday celebrations amongst my circle of friends, so the increased connection that started during the pandemic continued both in the physical as well as virtual world. There are a few of us who still regularly visit the Kebab and Ventilator for a Zoom pub evening, and given how spread out people are geographically these days this is a very good thing indeed.
My kids are now both at secondary school. When I head into the London office, I pass their primary school and invariably have a mild melancholic sense of how quickly they have grown up. They are both thriving at school in very different ways, and I am hugely proud of they wonderful young men they are turning into. However, if you are reading this boys this praise is not an excuse for you to leave your dirty pants on the floor, or not take a part in the washing up, you lazy toads you.
Mrs B has had a year of good health, after a year of very not good health.
The podcast continues to be a source of delight and fascination.
Watford continue to cycle through managers like a Heath Robinson approach to leadership theory.
I get to noodle around with music stuff every so often, and occasionally lose control and buy something else to make noises.
The year ahead is probably going to be fairly grotty for many people. I’ll not lose sight of the privileges I have.
My super-power, as much as I have one, is connecting people. I’ll find as many ways to do that as I can.
I’m looking forward to a few days off.
Have a great break, and here’s to 2023!
The year in photos: