All posts tagged Ireland

CIO as a conductor…

First published in CIO Magazine in August 2016. A collaboration with Elaine Naughton in the  writing and development of this idea, a huge thanks to Elaine for this.

In the excellent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, he describes a discussion between Jobs and Steve Wozniak where Jobs is explaining to Woz that the role he plays in Apple is that of an orchestra’s conductor, here to get the best out of the team, to ensure that they play in harmony and deliver to the listener the most inventive and yet classically rich vision of the original design. This conversation is said to have taken place after a strong ‘debate’ just before the launch of the iMac itself, Woz described by Isaacson had just exclaimed to Jobs that he was neither designer nor engineer and therefore did not really warrant or justify the recognition he was getting as the ‘re-saviour’ of Apple.

Is the creativity of the conductor the real line to success in IT leadership? After all the ‘band plays on’, or at least tries to, whether there is a conductor or not. Even as early as 1998 Jobs was describing, I think, what the modern CIO now needs to be, although maybe we now need an evolved model from conductor to DJ or rock and roll front man.

Why does the analogy and the model need to evolve? Well, in times gone by, the IT leader would have sought out the best in class people he needed. Much like creating an orchestra of around 30 talented artists, the Leader had to be the best that the orchestra could afford and then the conductor had to make them fit into the team, not always an easy job. The ‘prima donna’ persona of the highest calibre technologists is not always easy to integrate into a high-performing team after all. This then, perhaps, is where the evolved model comes in.

The leader of a rock band enables the band to “jam” develops a structure and order to remain in time, and chooses a rift as well as creating a tune as they play. Maybe this roll can be best described as the start-up innovator of the music scene. A band always needs a front man – someone with a vision for the sound they want to achieve and the charisma and charm to wow an audience, the band may play on if the front man leaves, but rarely as successfully; what would U2 be without Bono? or the Rolling Stones without Jagger? Queen without Freddie? Perhaps the best real world example of the rock star digital leader is Larry Ellison of Oracle, truly a front man if ever there was one to be seen in digital leadership. The owner, founder, creator and beating heart of the Oracle empire, whilst no longer leader in name still very much the charismatic front man of the brand and indeed, band!

An orchestra, on the other hand, follows a very strict plan and each of the upwards of 30 members (over 50 for a symphonic orchestra) knows exactly what they need to play and when, whether it is solo or synchronised with their team (by virtue of the score). Only the conductor knows the full score and reads all lines simultaneously, knowing who to call on and who to bring in exactly when they are needed for the orchestra to continue playing in harmony and in time, and for soloists to have their moment to shine. A digital leader in the style of the conductor does just this. The danger here though, is if only they know the full picture, keeping everyone focussed takes a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm. Many public sector digital leaders are of this style (often by necessity) as the full picture is in reality always being altered and reconfigured a small amount by the political leaders and paymasters.

The conductor’s role is an art form and a talent, while being a very technical job. Take the conductor from this and time signatures slip, the musicians become discordant and eventually chaos ensues. Just as with Jobs and his temporary departure from Apple, as conductor of that orchestra he was never truly replaced and therefore for a time the music was not what the audience needed to hear. The creativity, in the sense of innovation of the music, belongs to the composer rather than the orchestra or conductor; with this in mind maybe we need to see the digital leader as composer and conductor more often!

A DJ, unlike the conductor or rock band front man, can take the best work of a much wider variety of stars, mould them together until they find the right mix and then play it for the audience. The DJ doesn’t have to integrate the full character of the artist just that moment of excellence where the beat fits or as the very wonderful NetFlix original puts it, ‘When the Get Down arrives’! A modern successful digital leader then is going to be a DJ! If we consider the ‘gig economy’ to be the future in digital then this kind of character and behaviour is likely to become even more prevalent when building successful teams. The magpie-type ability to bring all the best bits together for one moment of excellence that then can be repeated.

We believe the skills of a DJ are also key traits of a transformational leader: someone who motivates and energises their employees to get behind a transformation strategy, creates something that has been written about many times before, the creation of a fan base if you will!

The styles of these three analogies allow us to consider the nature of digital leadership. There is a mix of two key styles here, one is transactional the other transformational. The conductor is transactional, planning, organising and controlling. The DJ is transformational challenging and changing organisational culture, coaching and developing people, creating a climate of trust, establishing a long-term vision. The front man perhaps mixes both styles dependent on the need of the audience or band members, an ambidextrous style that is agile and responsive as startups require to be.

The analogy can continue in a number of ways beyond just the parts of the mix. A DJ brings with them the theme and the end point they are trying to get to, much like a high performing digital leader needs to, they start with the end in mind. Also, the DJ needs to be aware of the change in trends, evaluate them and consider how to adopt them into their fabric, so much learning of how this is done from both professions; I would love a temporary job swap!

The Jobs autobiography also describes the moment that Woz and Jobs first met from Woz’s point of view, “We first met in 1971 during my college years, while he was in high school. A friend said, ‘you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks,’ so he introduced us”

Jobs and Woz learnt they had so much in common, and yet were so different. The wonderful “Small Data” book by Martin Lindstrom references a Harvard Business Review article by de Swaan Arons, van den Driest and Weed called “The Ultimate Marketing Machine”. The article suggested that there are three types of people needed to make a marketing company successful, they are:

Think people – Who focus on data and analytics

Do people – Who have responsibility for content, design and production development

Feel people – Who are all about consumer engagement and interaction

I wonder if the modern digital organisation can apply this exact same logic as has been done here for the marketing team. The types of people the IT leader needs to bring together are defined less by their technology specialty and more by the person type they act when they are in a delivery focused team. Back to Jobs and the Apple empire, the success of the original swathe of ‘i’ products has always been put down to two elements, one, Jobs own meticulous eye for detail and two, the design standards of the team under Sir Jonathan Ive. If we overlay the commentary from the article in the Harvard Business Review referenced above and the conclusions that Lindstrom himself makes on this article we start to see that the way this team has been successful is by ‘minding the small things’ by being a team that is led by a digital orchestrator but exists as a team that can deliver empathy together, to the benefit that is trying to be attained.

A modern, successful leader needs to be a strategist, a “front-man (or woman)” AND be able to conduct a complex set of teams in a harmonious way – or at least empower capable section leaders (upper strings, lower strings, woodwind, brass, percussion) to do so on his or her behalf.

The theories of Lindstrom in Small Data will blow your mind, you regularly turn a page and laugh at the conclusion he has made and how it applies so completely not just to modern marketing ways of working but to how the right digital function needs to deliver. Whether as leaders we are badged as CIOs, CDOs, Conductors or DJs we don’t care, we just want to be able to make IT work.




…… as a post script we really do care! Two IT leaders were involved in the creation of this article, one of us wishes they had taken the path of enlightenment and become the superstar DJ of their dreams the other is progressing from playing second fiddle in a growing orchestra to becoming a conductor and leader of a great band.


Brexit and the CIO!

First published to CIO.CO.UK

Just when you thought every conversation would be about Trump this summer someone decided to press a big button that didn’t say Brexit on it, it said ‘stick it to the man’ and very few people thought that meant leave Europe! Or certainly after the event that is what it feels like. As I have caught up with colleagues, friends and peers I have only found two people who are proud to have voted leave, admittedly one was resplendent in union jack cuff links and belt buckle so maybe shouldn’t count due to crimes against fashion! So much has been written from within the UK about what it could mean for this role we all love, the CIO role post Brexit will change, we have no doubt about that. I am no longer living or working in the UK, whilst only 50 minutes with Ryanair away Ireland is very much a different country, and I love it for that.

The morning of the 24th of June will be one that the modern CIO will remember for years and years to come. It has become the where were you moment of the ‘teenies’, so many people describe the story of turning to their partner and saying, crikey it happened, we are leaving Europe and the look and squeak of complete and utter astonishment from the other person whose twitter feed hadn’t woken them up first. I wonder if Boris and Farage were as shocked as the rest of the globe was.

The google search for how to get an Irish passport over that day is said to have been the most common search in Dublin and then the need to continue the conversation with digital leaders throughout Dublin really began to happen. It has now become the conversation at every meeting of CIOs and IT professionals in this bustling digital city and not having an opinion or a new piece of gossip about the impact is simply not allowed!

The good it will do for Dublin in the short to medium term seems to be huge as more and more companies are said to be looking to have a location in the city, after all it is English speaking, in the EU and with the Euro, not to mention the amazing digital eco-system that has sprung up already. But will it be for the good of the wider Ireland? My own opinion is possibly not; there is a huge risk that Dublin becomes more and more like the London of Harry Enfield’s imagination, where Dublin is the place ‘with’ and much of Ireland becomes the place of aspirations, and that I think could be an Irish outcome of Brexit without very carefully national leadership.

The immediate impact on a CIO delivering digital solutions to health in Ireland has been significant. For example data sharing agreements for the island of Ireland will need to be looked at from a different point of view once article 50 is triggered. The delivery of health care if you are a patient living on the boarder suddenly could be a very different prospect for a non-EU Northern Ireland. The technology to support this will need to have a very different plan to that being considered pre-Brexit.

The 8th of June saw the Republic of Ireland announce an EU member state first, a Health Cloud First policy. Brexit now will mean that a wider consideration of where data goes from a disaster recovery point of view needs to be had, if data is leaving the EU what does that mean and what will the UK data agreements be with a USA. More open and free movement of data between Uncle Sam and the May state is quite a scary prospect to manage with the privacy concerned of Ireland. Certainly a Brexiting UK with May at the helm is already building up a worrying record of a willingness to downgrade digital privacy considerations.

The advisory and consultancy firms that Ireland’s health sector has been working with as it moves towards its full Electronic Health Record programme moved from conversations about NHS expertise and knowledge to different countries overnight, suddenly Canadian knowledge and experience is de rigueur amongst the partners seeking to impress the eHealth Ireland function. Why though, is it because an NHS post Brexit would be less willing to share or simply because the sheer amount of work to now do in the NHS will be simply too big to offer up guidance to Ireland. Personally I don’t believe it is anything to do with the NHS really and more to do with the large consultancy firms trying to stop the conversation being ‘just’ about Brexit and wanting it to remain on topic.

The Brexit promise to the NHS of 350 million a week more in funding was withdrawn by the morning of the vote, the NHS is heading to a deficit that is eye watering and will impact upon the priorities of a minister for health who never really jumped one way or the other when it came to Brexit. In Ireland we have a minister who is insisting that the country needs a ten year plan, or at least a five year plan to reform the health system. The optimism in health in Ireland in a post Brexit world is quite significant, the number of Irish citizens working for the NHS is huge and Brexit just became another leaver to try to persuade them to return home. Around 5,000 of the health staff of Ireland are English though, the thought of not being able to do the job here in Ireland is a nightmare scenario but one that now needs to be on the risk register.

The one thing that as a CIO with a penchant for social media I did come to realise more and more during the run up to Brexit was the concept of a the social media influence bubble. So few people ever seemed to be talking about voting to leave and yet somebody somewhere clearly did make that choice. The dawning thought as social media became awash with despair was that the influence that the social media format has on you is way more to do with the bubble that you are in than a truly independent view of the world. A great many have complained they simply couldn’t get good media facts and knowledge to build up an opinion; maybe there is something in the fact that we are now using social media as a news outlet that hugely influenced that. Brexiters were compared somewhat to an extreme political view, racist with lack of global view. And yet in a post Brexit world clearly that simply cannot be true!

A recent Irish Times article rather tongue in cheek suggested a coming together of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland as an EU state. Whilst done in a mischievous way it grew legs and in less than 24 hours people were discussing this as if it were a real possibility. The desperation to find a way to maintain some of the status quo in the digital world we are trying to live within is having a huge impact on what we think of as the art of the possible. The conversation now needs to shift, away from desperate plans like the ‘Scotireland’ and move towards what needs to be done to make each of our areas of concern work in a new world. Every EU state now needs to have a digital consideration of Brexit and build policy and solutions on how to make this work, the EU of a shared digital future has changed forever and each one of us now has a part to play in understanding what it will look like next.

As something of a post script to this piece, there is a town in county Tipperary called Twomileborris, the name Borris is generally thought to be a Norman word for stronghold or district, maybe, just maybe the work of Boris to deliver a Brexited UK could end up creating an even stronger digital stronghold for Dublin, and with the right considerations and policies the whole of Ireland, certainly the opportunity seems to be stronger than the threat. I had three adoption offers and the passport application process explained to me in detail within 24 hours of Brexit, I hope that means I am going to be in Ireland for some time to come, but I really do hope that the CIO fraternity of the UK can make Brexit work for digital, the whole of the EU still needs it to, in or out!

Social and Cultural Review 2015

It’s that most wonderful time of year again, Christmas is done, and for the last three years I have looked forward to writing down the fun stuff that has added a bit of magic to everyday of the year.

It has been a year of exploration; I guess it was always going to be, moving to a new country, a new job and a whole new set of experiences for us to consider as the both us started falling in love with our new home. Stan Lee in Spiderman  has Uncle Ben consider power, responsibility and change, this year I corrupted the quote for my own purposes,

“With great responsibility has to come great fun, or else the responsibility will breed contempt and commitment will be harder to maintain.”

At the time it felt better than work hard, play hard and a little less American management school as well!

In late January I set out into town with a couple of new friends, they wanted to show me my new town from a different perspective. The first Dublin wander was underway, a trip to great places to enjoy company, a pint and some fun, something that Dublin is famous for. This takes me to my first list of the 2015 review, my top five favourite places to eat drink and be merry in Dublin:

  • P. Macs – A cosy craft beer-house lit by candles, heated to perfection (You will know what I mean if you visit) and with a choice of beers unrivalled in the city, not to mention games and nostalgic crisp flavours!
  • Fallon and Byrne Cellar – Great fish stew and a wonderful choice of wine. Being recommended a wine at 11:30 that the staff described as a good ‘breakfast wine’ created a moment in history for me and a couple of friends in May.
  • O’Donoghue’s – My first visit here on a Sunday lunch time was in February, to me this felt like I was stepping straight into a film about Dublin, the band played on and the Guinness was spectacular.
  • Pichet – French style to perfection in Dublin city centre, relaxed and yet so elegant.
  • 37 Dawson’s Street – This places has become our go to venue, quirky, friendly, fun, warm, great music (always appreciative of the time of day) and simply put a great experience!

There could be so many more on the list though as we really have enjoyed exploring the city with every visitor that has come to Ireland, and there have been plenty in our first year, additional mentions have to go to Fade Street roof (if the sun is shining), The Long Hall (for authenticity), Whitefriar Grill (for something so very different) and I would be ostracised by the boys that visited in May if I didn’t mention the Temple Bar (for sheer staying power!).

As with years going back to 2002 I have collated my songs of the year, and again when I spend the time looking at how different my taste changes I am quite taken a back. In 2002 my top songs were rather miserable in theme, certainly dark and almost beat free. And yet here I am writing,

‘Disco music can be cool again,’

…who would have thought that would be possible in 2015! On one of my brothers visits he asked, ‘what’s with all the disco music?’ It made me realise that suddenly a take on 70s disco had made it back on to my iPOD. And this became one of the musical revelations this year for me that if you mix some decent old disco with a house beat then you can hear something quite cool. Think Glitterbox in sunny Ibiza or the very talented Dimitri from Paris or the Todd Terje edits on the Masters of the Universe mixes or Tensnake or Booka Shade or Sandy Rivera or Joey Negro the list could go on and on! All awesome shape throwing fun, whilst cooking dinner in the kitchen, I am over 40 after all!

So my top twenty songs of the year are:

  1. Johanna – Geoff Zanelli and Mark Ronson (Featuring Miles Kane)
  2. How Deep Is Your Love – Calvin Harris and the Disciples
  3. Touch – Bearcubs
  4. Diamonds – Josef Salavat
  5. Holding On – Julio Bashmore (Featuring Sam Dew)
  6. Her Mercy – Glen Hansard
  7. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
  8. Full Circle – George Fitzgerald (Featuring Boxed In)
  9. Liquid Spirit (Claptone Remix) – Gregory Porter
  10. Weathered – Jack Garratt
  11. Fall Like A Feather – Dan Owen
  12. From The Dark – Maya Jane Coles (Featuring Moggli)
  13. Highway 101 – Groove Armada
  14. Shake It Off – Ryan Adams
  15. Wasn’t Expecting That – Jamie Lawson
  16. New Day – Rudimental (Featuring Bobby Womack)
  17. Dancing In The Dark – Hot Chip
  18. Smile – Etienne de Crecy (Featuring Alex Gopher)
  19. London – Benjamin Clementine
  20. Rescue – Deetron (Featuring George Maple)
  21. Lean On – Major Lazer (Featuring Mo and DJ Snake)
  22. S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

So yet again I have to go over the allocated twenty songs (29 exist on the actual playlist)and I am quite struck in building the list this year by the influence of living in Ireland, more ‘pop’ music than ever before which I put down to listening to more commercial radio than I think I have ever before and a resurgence for the male singer songwriter for me, which again is so prevalent in Ireland through the story telling in the delivery of songs. One thing I do still thoroughly enjoy though is the excitement to hear new music, getting ready for Field Day, Forbidden Fruit and other big festivals and gigs is all part of the tradition of new music for me. In last year’s review I moved from simply listing my top ten gigs to top events which was a reflection I thought on growing older, well I’m still growing older so here are my events:

Weddings – Two of my closest friends made honest ladies of their partners, both weddings reaffirmed to me the importance of friendship. To be in a room full of people who mean so much to a couple, to have been chosen to share in that was quite a wonderful part of 2015. It didn’t matter if it was acting out scenes from Reservoir Dogs walking up the road or throwing shapes to a live version of Uptown Funk being with the best friends you could ask for was what mattered most.

Field Day – A sunshine day again, as always one of the first on to the field but with chance to get to know the site and play the village mentality games. Field Day, probably the best one day festival there is! Catching Jack Garratt, Jungle, Todd Terje and the Olsens and the Farnborough Concert Band were highlights as was catching up with a long lost friend for fun and silliness.

Once – One of my all-time favourite films came to Dublin as a stage show, and totally by accident we went on the night that the mighty Glen Hansard was there. The encore of the show saw him jump on stage and for what would turn out to be the third time we would see Glen perform The Auld Triangle. An embarrassing note for me on the night was to be star struck in the bar of the very lovely Olympian, not (just) at seeing Glen in the bar but at seeing the Love/Hate star Susan O’Loughlin, I did apologise via twitter the next day though! Phew!

Barcelona – A spare day alone in Barcelona on a trip, what better way to spend the lunch time than to head to Bodega 1900. In the El Raval district Bodega is one of the Adria Brothers Barcelona restaurants (the most famous is Tickets, literally across the road). I sat in beautiful sunshine and had the most exquisite tapas known to man, the Spherical Olive in particular will stay with me forever.

Greenhouse lunch – A reservation just for two to try out a new place for Saturday lunch, we were blown away, the service, the taste and the art of what was served, but mostly the company, proving time after time in Ireland that some of the best things to do are done in twos.

Powerscourt – On a recommendation we took the car to this quite amazing Wicklow County place, as you step through the main entrance the views simply blow you away, having returned in sunshine and grey days I can safely say the magic doesn’t decrease but there is always something special about the first visit.

Poolbeg Lighthouse – A cold and windy day so we decided to walk out to sea! Well not quite but taking the camera we walked the concrete path to Poolbeg Lighthouse in the middle of Dublin Bay. The Poolbeg towers have become almost a talisman of being in Dublin for us, I see them every day to and from work so to be the other side of them looking back to beautiful Dublin really put a different perspective on the landscape.

Aqua lunch – Another recommendation from so many people, it had to be followed up. A lovely coastal train ride round to Howth and wander down the peer and then the second best Oysters I have ever eaten, the first will never be beaten!

Ed Sheeran – As I said in the music review part of this blog, pop music has had a resurgence in my life in 2015. Getting old or commercial radio are to blame, and yet Ed Sheeran has always been part of my iPod library since his debut performance on Wayfaring Stranger on Jools Holland all those years ago. So to grab four tickets for the Crooke Park gig was exciting, I was worried for the chap beforehand, over eighty thousand people in a stadium to see a solo artist. I needn’t have worried, he was awesome, engaging and played his heart and soul out from start to finish, and there was Glen Hansard again and that Auld Triangle! To share it with new friends from Ireland also made it extra special too.

Forbidden Fruit – Ibiza ended up rained out this year, which was perhaps a reflection of our first Ireland festival too. We arrived in sunshine, we explored the site in sunshine, then the heavens opened for a good couple of hours. And yet that disco/house mix mentioned earlier kicked in and Booka Shade blew away the clouds and Tensnake promoted a dance routin from me that ended up on Facebook. A great (wet) day that we can’t wait to repeat!

Maybe it’s moving to a new place or trying to do too many things but books have shrunk in my life in 2015, and that is a huge regret. I guess we read so much for work and staying on top of social media when you have moved away seems suddenly more important, however I am going to fix that in 2016. So my top five books for 2015 are probably not going to be any kind of revelation to anyone else but;

  1. Ghosts in the Wires – Kevin Mitnick
  2. The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Head Of State – Andrew Marr
  4. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  5. The Wolf in CIO’s Clothing – Tina Nunno

I enjoyed each of them and they are I think quite an eclectic mix that’s for sure.

I have explained before in previous reviews of the year that the experience of a film in our house is not the big cinema style so much, not sure why but it has not become something we do. This then results in my favourite films of the year being six months behind the rest of the world, top films though this year have to include Boyhood for the sheer cleverness of commitment to such a huge project and Birdman for something a bit different where the film actually does happen. Being able to watch those two films in the same year that I was persuaded to watch Locke and The Rover, both films that on paper looked great and yet very little happened, particularly Locke, which looked good from start to finish, but is clear proof that looking good isn’t enough for a film, particularly at home on the ‘small’ screen.

The war/conflict film still continues to be a huge draw for me with 71 and Fury and The Monument Men and American Sniper all entertaining from start to finish. Whilst I have loved all of the Marvel films to date I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Ant-Man and then by 15 minutes in I was completely hooked, smashing stuff. So my top ten films of the year are:

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. Antman
  4. 71
  5. American Sniper
  6. The Theory of Everything
  7. Interstellar
  8. Selma
  9. Imitation Game

I’m going to save a spot on here for Star Wars, how can it not be in the top ten films!

The year review for me has always been about the social and cultural part of life, an indulgence I look forward to allowing myself on this blog site.

However the year has been such an exciting one from a work point of view forgive me two reflections that stand up as milestones for me. Firstly sharing a front page on an internet news outlet headline with Kim Kardashian and her Emojis was pretty cool in December, if not a little odd. There it was a photo of me and the next news panel was Kim and her new Emojis, enough to really make you check that the world was still spinning in the same direction!

And then the other was as much about the discovery as it was about the achievement, for Huffington Post to put me in the top social CIOs in the world was a fun honour, to find out via a retweet that mentioned me did place social media and twitter in particular in my mind as a giant leap forward for how we engage as leaders in technology, a part of my role I have thoroughly enjoyed this year.

So another year comes to an end, what will next year bring, I’m already looking forward to the Sunday Times list of artists to watch in 2016. With LCD Soundsystem releasing a Christmas song there is always a set of crossed fingers for some new stuff by them and a possible tour so I can tick them off my bucket list, although I think I may simply being hopeful.

Happy new year folks, here’s to the next one, slainte!

From reading in the dark to digital health…

Since the 4th millennium BC humans have been accessing and processing information about innovation and considering how to use what is in front of them! We call it reading! How many of you read at night? How many of you as children would get the torch under the covers and read just a little bit longer? For me it was Doctor Who books!

So, if reading is the route to innovative thinking and most of us love to do this at night, why oh why has the concept of reading in the dark been an obstacle for so many years that clever innovation hasn’t enabled it exponentially.

In 1800 if you wanted to read for one hour at night you would need to work an average 6 hours to earn enough money to buy the required amount of candle to do just that, and I wouldn’t have recommended anyone doing it under the covers either! However innovation was clearly hampered by the ability to read at night as the candle remained the main source of light to read by until the 1880s, when the oil lamp became the next innovation.

Horizontal innovation in action; 80 years to move from six hours hard labor to fund one hours learning to a new situation where you ‘only’ have to work for 15 minutes to fund enough oil for one hours reading. You would then assume that this vertical step would radically change the thinking for funding reading. Unfortunately not!

In 1950 the ability to read for one hour moved to a cost of eight seconds of work. The modern filament light bulb became the way in which we could gather knowledge to be able to innovate – another step change, but one that took just a little less than a century to reach. Again, more horizontal achievement rather than vertical change.

Today on average it costs less than a second to earn the funds to allow you to read for one hour in the dark. Now that’s an achievement. In over 200 years we go from spending all day working to be able to spend one hour learning and now it’s half second for the same! But, really if we were truly innovative in a vertical way, in a way that wasn’t an evolution of the same story, before the bright thinker makes a giant leap of faith, then perhaps we would already be in a position where technology allowed us to access energy for free, to create light that allows us to learn.

Innovation to deliver eHealth in Ireland requires different thinking. The concept of Research and Development needs to change, we can no longer ‘rip-off and duplicate’ what has been done elsewhere, for many reasons. Lessons learnt in eHealth globally show us that the transferal of technology from healthcare system to healthcare system has often caused so much upheaval that benefits are not released and clinical and patient engagement is made exponentially harder.

The Director General of the Health Service Executive in Ireland made a call to arms in the last week in February 2015. He suggested that health delivery in Ireland is now arriving in the information age. Two examples of that spring to mind, examples that have been delivered in different ways and ahead of any grand delivery model that my office will produce, showing me the will, the capability and the desire is absolutely there.

An electronic patient record (EPR) for Epilepsy has been in place throughout Ireland for more than a year. Delivering an integrated care pathway for patients suffering from a chronic illness that is cared for on a national basis to ensure that the best clinical minds are able to care for patients, offer them assistance in staying well and finding mechanisms to live a normal life with the illness.

What is innovative is the approach taken to the delivery of what has been described by one of the leading clinical advocates as a ‘postmodern’ digital solution. A solution that makes the best of what has gone before so effectively it goes so far as to celebrate it within the delivery and specifciation of the new system.

The epilepsy EPR has been defined by clinicians against the care pathway requirements. It is a digital and mobile solution, and it enables access to the longitudinal record in the settings where care is provided. There is an inherent information governance capability within the system that protects the information within the system for clinical use.

This has been delivered against a local standardised solution set rather than a national governance model and shows the delivery team of eHeath Ireland how innovation can be adopted into clinical settings when it is clear what the benefit will be to patients first and the clinical outcomes and process second without the technology featuring on the list of priority considerations.

The other startling piece of disruptive innovation is an extremely successful eReferral pilot in Cork and Kerry. There isn’t anything that vertically innovative about digitizing the referral process itself, this has been done before in many countries and care settings. The innovation here is the way in which the project team has gone about the delivery, a model we will try to make re-use of throughout the eHealth Ireland implementations.

The team has built the technology in an unobtrusive way, delivering an integrated system into the GP solution through messaging capability. Then the team was able to work with individual clinicians to understand the personal benefit they could achieve from having a digital referral solution in their care setting. Visiting the Mercy hospital in Cork it is very clear to see the data benefits to them and the process change that the delivery of a digital solution has enabled them to undertake, creating an information age referral process throughout the hospital.

The change in attitude to innovation, to allow eHealth Ireland to be built is underway already in this country. We will support this as it develops more and find more and ways to inspire this behaviour change, after all we all want to read at night!

The year that was 2014…

Last year around this time I wrote my first blog piece that wasn’t related to work and being a CIO in the healthcare business.

I wrote it on a whim to reflect on all the great things that 2013 had brought, and boy 2013 had been a great year! 2014 has followed in a similar way, perhaps more change than I would have thought this time last year, I certainly did not think I would be sat in Ireland writing this that’s for sure but it has been a great year.

As with last year music remains a huge part of our lives. In 2014 the theme that started in 2013 continued with a much more cheerful outlook to the music that gets played the most. Since 2002 I have tried to create a playlist of my top twenty songs of the year, it used to be traditional for a group of us to ‘share’ these around but technology has moved us on, I am not sure what some people would do with a CD with 20 songs on if I gave it to them nowadays!

So here is my list instead:

  1. Love Sublime – Tensnake
  2. Luna – Bombay Bicycle Club
  3. Lessons – SOHN
  4. Pushing On – Oliver $ and Jimi Jules
  5. Do You Feel The Same? – Hercules and Love Affair
  6. They Told Me It Rained – Jamie T
  7. Walking With Elephants – Ten Walls
  8. Cavalier – James Vincent McMorrow
  9. Bang! – Sandy Rivera
  10. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
  11. Unmissable – Gorgon City
  12. Doubt – Kele Okereke
  13. New Drop. New York – SBTRKT
  14. Magic – Coldplay
  15. Time – Jungle
  16. Hey Now (Bonobo Remix) – London Grammar
  17. Gimme Something Good – Ryan Adams
  18. First Fires – Bonobo
  19. Desire – Years and Years
  20. Hollow Ponds – Damon Albarn
  21. My Love – Route 94
  22. Crossing Borders – Booka Shade

So, its 22 rather than 20, I just couldn’t get it any lower this year, there has been so much new and different music available, I guess some of that is related to how easy it is to listen to new music and some of it relates to the impact of peoples tastes who you are around? So much of it reminds me now of the sunshine, some of it even comes from a prediction made as a comment on the 2013 version of this blog (Step up Alex T with the wise words on Gorgon City).

Yet again I feel I ‘could have done better’ with the book diary, there have been some gems in there though, both literary wonder and classic beach fodder! My top five books of the year are:

  1. The New Digital Age – Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
  2. Turning 40 – Mike Gayle
  3. Us – David Nichols
  4. Humans – Matt Haig
  5. The Children Act – Ian McEwan

If I had to pick a top book though it would be Matt Haig’s, an absolutely brilliant ride of a book, half way social commentary, half way sci-fi half way comedy, surely its crying out for the film rights to be snapped up!

Also highly recommended for anyone who wants to try to understand what baseball is all about are two wonderful items; the first is a book simply called Baseball by George Vecsey, it puts the context, rules, excellence and addiction out there and allows you to begin to understand why Baseball is the sport it is, the second item is the film to Million Dollar Arm which is so entertaining and delivers a real insight into how Baseball is played in America, a great way to move on to films.

When it comes to films I still seem to be a wait for the Blue Ray kind of person it would seem, much to the irritation of my other half. So my top five films are all ones I have either seen on Blue Ray or on flights this year:

  1. Lone Survivor
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. The Conjuring
  4. Captain America – Winter Soldier
  5. X-Men – Days of Future Past

So my cinematic taste hasn’t grown up still. Last year I missed Gravity, Captain Phillips, Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club off the list all of which were amazing films but films mean something different to me than music, they seem to be so much more about the immediate gratification whereas I am so much more patient with music and its ability to get under your skin and grow with you. Both Lone Survivor and The Conjuring had me hiding behind my hands and yelling at the screen, for me what a film should do?!

In 2013 we travelled a great deal, when we look back on it now it was only a dint in the travel we did in 2014. For me two weekend breaks we took were something else, to be in Rome for my 40th birthday was extraordinary, wine tasting in a quite wonderful little back-water wine cellar with a small bunch of people was a special experience. The other weekend break was a late trip to Barcelona, a city I have always wanted to visit, and now would go back at the drop of a hat, we were very lucky, we went when it would be a little quieter so we could get around and yet the weather was mostly great. So much to see though, so many wonderful little places to eat and drink truly a great city to enjoy the ‘bar fly’ experience.

Our Easter trip to the states was quite a surprise too, both of us on a proper road trip taking in Boston, Princeton, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC in ten days meant we got to experience so much of east coast USA. We were able to live out our West Wing fantasies at Foggy Bottom as well as see the quite extraordinary experience that is the NYC Easter bonnet parade, never have I seen so much effort go into the creation of a hat!

The most important trips though have to be the Ireland trips this year, arriving in August to be interviewed for what would become my dream job was quite a scary trip but one that re-affirmed that we both wanted it, house hunting Kirsty and Phil style was a couple of fun days too and got us to where we wanted to be for the next chapter in our lives.

The last list of ‘things’ for 2014 is the events, last year it was the gigs and theatre trips, this year it has to stretch to be the events a little more, I thought last year it was because I am getting too old for the gigs, and I still think this is probably the case, but also its becoming just as much fun to go to the speaking events and be part of these as it is to dance the night away at a gig:

  1. Moscow in March to speak at an international event on Business Intelligence was a great experience, particularly having never done the translated live thing before and seeing Red Square and the landmarks of Moscow up close and personal was quite the marvel.
  2. London in April at the House of Lords to celebrate the birthday of the Pharmacopoeia, meeting many of the Lords and Ladies, Professors and Doctors who make it possible to have a single point of reference for all clinical research, and to share that with a couple of colleagues was great fun.
  3. Barbarossa at the Cockpit as part of Live at Leeds 2014, one of the last acts on and someone we had seen before but to see him in such a small venue so close made you realise how unique his voice and music are and to share it with a friend who hadn’t been to that kind of thing before was great.
  4. Ocean Beach in Ibiza was to be a dream come true, a day out to enjoy the beats of Sandy Rivera, some sunshine and a Strawberry Daiquiri makes me smile from ear to ear even if the rain did change the atmosphere a little. I will always hear one song playing so perfectly as a memory of that great day!
  5. Tour De France in Yorkshire was probably an experience for a great many people this year. A big group of us camped at the official starting point, got to see royalty, and the Beckhams and lots and lots of bikes. To then ride some of that road a few hours after they had gone is something you can never take away.
  6. The Hill Valley Secret Cinema experience was a little fraught with technical hitches with our initial performance being cancelled, however when we did get there it was something that dreams are made of, being part of an iconic film set, able to be part of the film as you watch it and see Biff chase Marty around the town square really is a memory no one will forget anytime soon. Added to this was the ability to stand with a few thousand people and pay respects to the late great Robin Williams also made it that bit more special, ringing out the, to me, iconic words, ‘O captain! My captain!’ will hold a memory for me forever.
  7. Pharcyde live in Leeds, sometimes it’s the silly little things that shine through a year though. A gig with a bunch of friends, a spare room to stay in and a few beers to enjoy, made this gig stand out so very much, the fact that 20 years on the band are nearly as energetic still on stage and clearly there for the fun of it didn’t hurt either!
  8. The opportunity to be at the Roundhouse for the UK Healthcare IT award ceremony was great, we didn’t win but it was still a great few hours and again gave me the opportunity with a great many colleagues to pay respects to a great influencer on health care IT, Dr. Rick Jones from Leeds who passed away this year.
  9. A family trip to Cyprus to have the Moores gang together for a whole week and celebrate a big birthday of my father-in-law was an event rather than a trip, everything from mountain climbing to see the old monastery to cooking Pizza in the outside wood oven to an amazing fish super on the harbour made for a great visit, being able to dip in the pool and play Lego with my nieces made it all the more special.
  10. Bonobo at the Alexandra Palace is last on the list but what an amazing event, the venue, the band, the sound all came together to make it the best gig of the year!

So, that’s it, the end of 2014, and the leap into 2015! With several friends getting married in 2015, holidays in the calendar already, camping in Northumberland and the family traditions of Ibiza and Field Day to look forward to already I can’t wait to sit here and reflect on 2015 in twelve months’ time.

Thanks for reading….

Happy New Year!