Monday, 28 June 2010

England the insignificant?

I am a huge England fan, patriotic,ardent and unrealistically hopeful when it comes to our national team. This is not the rant of one who deserts them at the slightest hint of defeat, nor will I desert them over this world cup debacle but let's have a heavy dose of reality as we perform the autopsy of another 'dead in its tracks' world cup campaign. There are probably 3 key issues that need to feature in the dissection:
1 the use of technology
2 the quality of the players
3 the belligerence of the manager

None of us will have failed to notice that FIFA, and particularly the moron and his cronies at the top, have no aversion to the use of technology that brings in the billions for TV rights and advertising. No, they have a personal love affair with technology at that level, so my initial feeling of calling them 'luddite idiots' was 50% wrong! One can only conclude other, perhaps more personal, reasons why they have not pursued the technology route as has every other major sport? One cannot fail to think there is some personal benefit being derived somewhere, or perhaps they really are just idiots? It would be foolish to suggest that all of our woes were down to one wrong, albeit serious,misjudgement by the ref. Our players were far too bad to hide behind that excuse but it would have changed the character of the game.

As we heard from some of 'our boys' at the end of the hammering they realised they had 'not performed well'. Apart from being the understatement of the century and the fact the same could be (and probably was) said after each of our matches it is the implication that, because they know they have not performed, this should somehow be repercussion enough!
This, of course, is such an insult coming from people whose WEEKLY salary is up to 5 times more than the annual wage of many fans who saved for months or years to be there! We could have lost with pride, performed well but been beaten by the better team, we could have got a 3-3 draw and lost on the final penalty and any number of other scenarios that would allow them to have walked away with pride - but not the abject, amateur, display of Sunday league errors that we have been subjected to for most of this campaign ( apologies to 'Sunday league' players).
I realise that certain changes are unlikely ever to happen whilst such easy access to the TV and advertising billions is available but how about sensible contracts, curbing the power of agents and a culture that expects to be paid on team and individual performance? Or, perhaps more achievable, how about playing key players in position, being flexible with our shape depending upon our opponents and never, ever, bringing Heskey onto the park! And better players maybe - or is that a little harsh? Our ball control, first touch, innovative and creative play and passing skills were so clearly sub standard compared to so many other teams, and I'm not just talking about the South Americans! In our analysis, which will doubtless rumble on, let's compare and contrast ourselves to the best in order that we might improve rather than to the worst in order that we could take comfort.

Which of course brings us onto the manager - and where to start on this one? Generally I am in favour of giving managers serious time to get to grips with the issues and being the manager of this or any other national team is clearly a different beast to club management. That said, when you get someone as stubborn and belligerent as Capello appears to be, who seems incapable of flexibility despite the circumstances, context and the weight of informed and expert opinion you have to wonder if the leopard can change its spots? I'm not jumping straight onto the 'he should go' bandwagon, but that does have to be an urgently and seriously considered option, followed by contractual arrangements that make some kind of sense.
Anyway - let's get on with the Euro qualifiers should we???

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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Socitm is go .....

I know that there will be very mixed views about the budget and particularly about it's implications in the public and third sectors, but, in Socitm, we still see some opportunities wrapped up in the many challenges, (see Jos Creese' comments on the budget budget-does-not-recognise-importance-of.htm. )

Whilst Socitm is most certainly pushing out beyond the traditional 'just IT' boundaries we remain totally commited to its critical role in the efficient delivery of first class, user focussed public services. Any budget or strategy that fails to acknowledge this AND adequately account for investment and innovation is likely to run into trouble. In a culture and society where the expectation of easily accessed, easily used online service delivery is growing exponentially, a public service that does not embrace, exploit and deliver to these expectations will always dissapoint. This, I believe, puts Socitm at the heart of 'solutions provision', a part of the answer not the problem, and we are determined to rise to that challenge.
In terms of vision and credibility we have a team of people who are acknowledged as leading players in the public and third sectors and who are dedicated to delivering value back to all of our members to equip us to deliver the goods ( and plenty more waiting in the wings).
We are now well advanced with plans to introduce some significant professionalism and development initiatives and a Socitm social networking and knowledge platform. We continue our drive to provide up to the minute policy guidance, best practice advice and the continued growth of our regional networks.
OK, it's not exactly a bed of roses on all fronts at present and we have to deliver on some of the positive noises but we are well positioned to drive forward in a number of areas including member development, value added services, networking and knowledge sharing opportunities. It is a case of watch this space, or even better, join with us and 'create this space'....we really are only as good as our members.

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Friday, 18 June 2010

Brighton - what a pleasant place

It was time for the Delivery Management meeting......which in case you don't know is a meeting of a group of people from various government sectors and departments who all belong to, or are eager to promote, one of the most senior and practical competency streams from the SFIA framework . These periodic meetings are worthwhile for a number of reasons. Firstly, they always meet somewhere interesting, Brighton this time, and focus on input from local hosts, secondly, it is a great group of interesting people from whom you cannot fail to learn something and, finally, 'delivery management' is at the sharp end of what we have all got to do.... deliver stuff!!

We started out last afternoon / evening (16th) with a guided tour of the Pavilion, courtesy of Brighton and Hove City Council , which was fascinating - it was my first time ever in Brighton so everything was new... We then met up in the local Pizza Express where, alongside eating, we had robust discussion on a wide range of subjects, not least of all procurement across government - it was 'Chatham House' to save all kinds of embarrasment!

Anyway, the real business was today, again hosted by Brighton & Hove,  at which we heard about progress from G Cloud and the Apps Store. This was a great presentation with lively discussion and some really positive Cabinet Office input. There are still a number of IT types of varying seniority (none of whom are part of this group) who still prefer the 'ostrich' approach to cloud, or, if you prefer, they are playing the metaphorical 'King Canute' and trying to stop the tide. Oh dear! This doesn't mean there aren't serious questions to answer and issues to resolve but that's what you expect when you are pushing the boundaries. We then had a great presentation and discussion lead by Brighton & Hove which outlined some of the real issues faced by the council and some of the plans for transformation and improvement in service delivery. Much of this goes under the 'strap line' 'Getting the Council you deserve' - which of course can be taken a number of ways... We finished with a round up of news and information from a variety of areas including Cabinet Office, Home Office, MoD, Transport, Local Government and Fire.
This group is one of the more proactive strands emerging from the Government IT Profession (although it's not at all certain what's happened to that initiative......) but it now offers value that goes beyond GITP and should certainly outlive it - although we are all hoping to see GITP alive and kicking again very shortly.

For those that don't know, our 'flagship event' Socitm2010 is in Brighton from Oct 10-12, and it is shaping up to be a really great event which not only has some great speakers lined up, but will also deal with live issues faced by CIO's, IT Directors, Resource Directors and Service Delivery Managers across the public and third sectors. Having had my introduction to Brighton this week I am really looking forward to October.

Friday, 4 June 2010

The 8 monkeys approach

I know this has been kicking around for some time now, but it's still good:

Here is the '8 Monkeys' process........

The 8 Monkeys

(This is reportedly based on an actual experiment conducted in the U.K.)
Put eight monkeys in a room. In the middle of the room is a ladder, leading to a bunch of bananas hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

Each time a monkey tries to climb the ladder, all the monkeys are sprayed with ice water, which makes them miserable. Soon enough, whenever a monkey attempts to climb the ladder, all of the other monkeys, not wanting to be sprayed, set upon him and beat him up. Soon, none of the eight monkeys ever attempts to climb the ladder.

One of the original monkeys is then removed, and a new monkey is put in the room. Seeing the bananas and the ladder, he wonders why none of the other monkeys are doing the obvious. But undaunted, he immediately begins to climb the ladder.
All the other monkeys fall upon him and beat him silly. He has no idea why.
However, he no longer attempts to climb the ladder.
A second original monkey is removed and replaced. The newcomer again attempts to climb the ladder, but all the other monkeys hammer the crap out of him.
This includes the previous new monkey, who, grateful that he's not on the receiving end this time, participates in the beating because all the other monkeys are doing it. However, he has no idea why he's attacking the new monkey.
One by one, all the original monkeys are replaced. Eight new monkeys are now in the room. None of them have ever been sprayed by ice water. None of them attempt to climb the ladder. All of them will enthusiastically beat up any new monkey who tries, without having any idea why.

And that is how most companies' policies get established.