Rollercoasters and Rockets

You know that feeling when you’ve plucked up the courage to take the plunge and go for a ride on the rollercoaster. You’re a little excited, anxious, scared, worried, but ultimately full of anticipation for the ride. You might think about the risks and ask yourself is it dangerous, will I get hurt or will it make me sick? Yet, you still climb aboard. The ride starts and your are hopeful and excited, as it slowly creeps to the top of the first ledge and you know what’s coming next. Then it happens and you whizz back down at a great speed and your stomach leaps and jumps around and as soon as you are down you fly right back up and do it all again, looping the loop, rising up and falling right back down again, but then it slows down and ends at a steady rate and you calmly get off, albeit with wobbly legs, but a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction wanting to do it all over again.

When people say “life is a rollercoaster”, it really is. Work and projects are the same.

The trick has got to be how to make the work rollercoaster ride a joyful and positive experience rather than a terrifying nightmare ride.

If your work rollercoaster ride is dangerous and scary, then at some point you have to accept you need to try a different ride something more gentle and predictable like the merry-go-round or thunder mountain (for the Disney fans). You physically cannot keep riding the rough ride repeatedly.

In my opinion, the work rollercoaster journey is driven by the culture and leadership style.

I’ve seen a great response from my team this week on how positive, encouraging and supportive leadership has brought an energy and buzz. It has been truly amazing to be part of this journey. This has been a perfect example of creating the right culture and bringing out the passion and drive from everyone, tapping into the strengths of each individual and creating synergy.

We Do Things Because They Are Difficult

I was incredibly lucky to witness a live rocket launch a couple of years ago when I visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Truly one of the best experiences of my geeky life. One of the biggest take aways from the tour of the space centre was listening to a video display of the JFK speech when he spoke about the Apollo missions where he said “We don’t do things because they are easy, we do them because they are hard”. That resonated with me so much. The work we were doing at the time had us reaching for and discovering new frontiers and new worlds of technology. And yes, it wasn’t easy, if it was then someone would have already done it. We were doing it and it was hard. But, we have some incredibly talented, passionate and clever people and they did it. Then they did it again and again and are still going. Still solving problems that are not easy.

IT and innovation is often an unknown. We know that there are problems that need solving and we know we can solve them (eventually). Sometimes it takes longer than we thought or we hit issues we couldn’t have planned or anticipated. How we act as leaders and how we drive our teams to deal with these new frontiers, unknowns and complex problems and the culture and environment we create and foster for them are so important. Do we take our team on the exciting and exhilarating rollercoasters or the fearful, terrifying and sickening rides. As leaders that is our responsibility to make sure that we always build our version of Disneyland or Kennedy Space Centre so that our people can leave happy having learned something, dealt with the challenges and had a good happy time in the process.

When we are forced or force our teams to take the scary nightmare ride, it makes us sick and we and will want to to get off and buy another ticket for the exhilarating ride. Hopefully we can find one of those tickets … if not, there’s always stub hub 😊

Time To Wake Up From This Snooze ?

Photo by NEOSiAM 2021 on

I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a while since I updated this site… sorry! Like most people the last year has been ‘interesting’ and ‘challenging’ to say the least. The pandemic hit, we never left our house and we haven’t been back in the office in over a year.

Despite getting through the last year in one piece, looking back it has not been plain sailing. So what’s happened since I last typed?

Service Line

Another re-organisation, a bigger role and 12 months sitting in the corner of a room in my house and then last Summer, we became a service line.

“What’s a service line?” I hear you ask.

Basically, it’s a capability based organisation that has end to end responsibility for a technology stack.

In other words, my team expanded from 500 or so people to almost 2,000. The scope of work changed from only project delivery to now cover pre-sales, solutioning, delivery and operations. The technology stack expanded and grew from Digital Transformation, Core Applications Development and Testing, Oracle and SAP to now also include Service Now, Workday and Salesforce. As well as a local UK & Ireland team I became responsible for Applications in Middle East and Africa too (including the most amazing team in Egypt). I got a new manager, spent the year trying to predict the organisation’s finance and am still trying to take out cost.

Now we are about to hit another org change, I’m getting a new manager and maybe, possibly, slightly changing my role ?!?!

As I said to some of my team today, “It’s time to get out of this funk!”

Beyond The Cloud

Sometimes things happen for a reason. “Serendipity (DTC word of the year 2019)”. That’s what today felt like, serendipitous! Things just fell into place. One conversation led into the next and it all came together at the end of day team call.

We were brainstorming and talking through how we approach a challenge and then it happened! We decided to get out of the funk! Infact, those are the words I used.

Maybe I’ve been too focused on financials, Brexit planning and monthly business reviews in the last year, but I’ve not been so close to the actual coal face of delivery and innovation except for the red projects (we won’t talk about them). That changed today…

Ok, so we have done digital transformation, moved to the cloud, stabilised and automated … what next? What is beyond the cloud? How do we take IT to the next level? We have a plan to find out.

We’ve got our best minds working on it, pulling together a team who will analyse, look at data, look at latest technology and see how we can add TRUE value to the business, not because we can take out cost and heads, but because it’s the right thing to do, to really bring more value for our clients. We’ve moved from mainframes to data centres to cloud and platforms. Now we are pioneering again, discovering new frontiers.

Today I remembered the passion and innovation and what truly has always inspired me about IT and it feels good!