All posts tagged Big decisions

Change the reaction…

Last night was a great night out in ‘sunny’ London, for me a return to the Jazz Café in Camden, a place I used to love, a place I frequented many times. But, the last time I was there was for the final goodbye gig of a band I loved, Ben and Jason around 2003.

So much changed after that gig, I moved jobs, houses, and relationships changed, and then a devastating thing happened, the person I shared Ben and Jason with, the person who taught me so much became irrevocably depressed, I am ashamed to say I do not know why but stepping into the Jazz Café last night brought back some amazing ghosts of an amazing man. Music can do that to people can’t it!

The gig last night was a live remix by a collective called Blue Labs Beats, they took Guru’s seminal Jazzmatazz volume one and reimagined it live on stage; and then the song Sights In The City came on with the lyrics;

Sights in the city got people cryin.. Sights in the city got people dyin..

It was a long time since my friend had popped into my head but this week there seems to have been a lot of commentary on men who commit suicide, maybe that is why when this Jazzmatazz classic song came on I could almost see him stood there, taking photos, enjoying being at a moment for us that we were sure we would never forget, and yet no matter how good the moment, we did forget it.

A statistic for you, the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK is suicide. Here’s another fact 6,000 lives were lost in Britain due to suicide in 2016 and three quarters of those deaths were men!

Why does the black dog, that horrible black cloud land on a man’s back with such intensity, and why oh why do we not deal with the assistance that is needed in a proper, human way? A man feels blue and too often the phrases of anti-masculinity are rolled out; “Don’t be a big girl’s blouse”, “Boys don’t cry”, “Man up” all are common pieces of advice to a man who opens up and says I need help.

I have yet to read any evidence that explains why men are hit by depression harder than women, I am not even sure they are, I think what actually happens is a woman knows how to seek help, a man is conditioned to handle it on their own. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation claim that in England, women are “more likely than men” to be affected by the most common mental health issues. And yet men take depression to the further place so much more frequently than women. This highlights the issue that suicide is such a pressing consequence for us to understand and find a new way to assist every man who reaches out.

This week I commented on social media that lad culture has gone; it’s a decade since Loaded magazine meant something, even FHM is no longer here, and yet we seem unable to move away from how we treat emotions as men. A drunk friend who needs helps warrants a joke that he is just being a lad. Why do we think this is funny still!

I want to be part of a change, I want to be clear that it is ok to be a man with emotions, and if a man, a friend, an acquaintance, a colleague needs help then we have to learn how to be there in the right way for that person.

Back to the memories, going to Jazz Café last night enabled a ghost or two to be put to rest, but it woke up in me a real desire to see what I can do to help, I don’t want the language we use to be a part of the problem anymore.

Since that final Ben and Jason gig the world has changed, and yet being there last night it struck me that so many things haven’t changed. I want to know that if a friend were to come to me with an emotional issue that I would react better now, in a way that would help, in a way that is informed in a way that did not need to consider the gender of the person seeking help.

Ben and Jason’s Everybody Hold Hands With Everybody Else sums up where I wish we could get to;

Dying man, aching hands, fallen to the floor, drowning man, hold his hand, pull him to the shore, back in your hair again, always my heroine, it’s getting harder to bear, you’re not a friend to me, if you come down to me, I’ll never take all your air.




NB – This blog has been written quickly, apology’s for any grammar or spelling mistakes in there, I will get back and fix these later.

Great BIG decisions…

A CIO has to make big decisions every single day. Operational decisions about keeping the ‘lights on’ for major systems, strategic decisions about the delivery of Business Intelligence in 2016 and resource decisions about just who can deliver what elements of a major system go-live.

All this in one week, or sometimes in one day!

But, the biggest decision a CIO really makes is when to go, when to hand the reigns to the next person and allow a different creative mind to stamp a new character onto delivery of information capability. Cranfield’s strategic IT leader training teaches that a CIO should be in an organisation no more than five years and ideally four. After five years, the creative juice that makes a truly great CIO can start to be recycled a little and, if all has gone well, a plan to deliver should have come to fruition and therefore it is time to allow a new innovator to take an organisation to the next stage.

Regardless of knowing this, making the decision to move to a different role has been a difficult one. I have agonised over the relationships I will miss, the camaraderie across the directorate that has been created and the structures we have put in place to support the delivery of success.

But, ultimately, it is time to move on. I have written here before about whether a CIO is a role related to a business vertical or a role in its own right that can span different business areas. For me, I am moving from health research to health delivery, but in a new country, with a different culture and an evolving set of core principles at the centre of the benefits that need to be delivered.

And I couldn’t be more excited!

The challenge I am about to set out on is huge, but rewarding and the new role does represent that magical moment, one that involves being there so close to the beginning that you are able to build for success with your own creativity, not an inherited ideal.

However if I use this blog as a reference point to reflect on where the organisation has been able to come in the last three and a half years, then I can also feel a little envious of the next CIO. I started the blog with entries about principles, strategies and the need to turn around projects that were not as successful as they should have been.

We moved on to celebrating success and creating relationships as blog topics and the organisation has made a great many friends along the way. To mention but a few:

  • Large consultancies helping with strategy development
  • Small enterprise organisations delivering expertise unavailable anywhere else
  • Specialised suppliers delivering bespoke systems
  • Corporation sized IT suppliers assisting with rationalisation
  • Industry expertise delivering world-class business intelligence

On top of these relationships and friendships is the greatest strength the organisation has created, that is a team, which is now valued by the Clinical Research Network. A team that delivers what is known as Information Systems but in reality is business change and benefit to research delivery. This group has enabled people to come together from across England and become united behind a single goal: to make clinical research easier through the use of technology.

The creation of the team is the greatest achievement a CIO can leave behind, I think. At the recent CIO Summit the CIO from Halfords suggested that the greatest skill a CIO should have is, ‘a genuine concern and understanding of others.’ Anna Barsby, from Halfords, spoke at the event and lit up the room with an honesty beyond any other CIO speech I have ever heard. She was detailing what a good CIO should be doing! Certainly working at Halfords in IT was described as one of the best teams that I have ever heard of.

Leaving an organisation is difficult for a CIO. The legacy you leave behind is as much about the culture of the team as it is about the nuts and bolts that have been built. I will be leaving with the majority of a new strategic infrastructure in place, plans for cloud migration agreed and a new outsource partner gearing up for the migration of the organisation’s services. The new CIO is going to be able to leverage a new supplier relationship to allow innovation to be applied quickly and with benefit to clinical research at its core.

Getting ready for a new role whilst ensuring that an old one is ‘tidy’ for the new CIO is exciting too. What do you need to know most when moving to a new organisation?

Quickly understanding the priority items has been a task I am grasping. I am going to a new country to deliver an ambitious strategy that has got some significant agreement and backing. The trick for me in the new role will be to get the operating framework right and to pick the right strategic foundation projects to concentrate upon in the first 100 days. I have set goals for the first 100 days and started to work with a team that are ambitious and enthused to be given the opportunity to deliver a set of solutions that can alter the way health and social care is provided for across a whole nation.

There will be some organisational change to ensure that the team can be as agile as possible to deliver against the strategy but one of my first goals is to gain the organisational buy-in and input into the changes to ensure that together we go on a journey, and that is going to require me to embrace what will be a new culture and understand it quickly.

But next week I will close the door to room 1.04 with some sadness. Whilst in post I have worked with some amazing people, made friendships that will last a lifetime and hope I have been able to make a difference to the perception of technology and the way in which it can be used to support clinical research in the NHS.

Next is Ireland, a land that I can’t wait to learn from and work with to take technology to the next level, so that it can support the delivery of health care to everyone throughout the Emerald Isle.

See you all on the other side of the sea.