Week 41 Notes

Babies, Aviation, Medical, Monte Carlo Simulations and Clapping for NHS Digital

Week 41 Notes
Photo by XPS / Unsplash

A return to week notes. I have been in digital hiding somewhat since my last post back in February for a number of personal/family reasons. Once I was ready to start again I was out of the habit and not feeling it again. The tipping point was by re-reading my own again which I really enjoyed. I have also started to interact with social platforms a bit more too.

So what's been happening?

Baby Number 4

My wife and I had baby number 4, a major life changing event, she is 14 weeks old at the time of writing these notes. We now have a 9 year old daughter, 7 and 5 year old son and a 14 week old daughter, life is busy in our home, we are very blessed.

The logistics of getting about have changed considerably, we now need a car with more than 5 seats. Unfortunately we have had to go for an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car as there are very little electric options that don't cost a fortune - Tesla. This doesn't sit well with me as I have been a EV user for over 4 years, I can't help but feel the first company to offer an affordable car with 7 seats will do really well and my tweet about this topic assured me I am not alone in this thinking.

I sold VIX Digital

Livi are now the owners of VIX Digital and I am delighted about it. I am all in on their (our) mission and this was one of the easiest decisions I have had to make. I will be talking more about all this in a future post though. For now it's great to finally conclude 9 months of work to make this happen, VIX is now part of Livi, the first digital provider to receive a CQC outstanding rating and the entire team are super excited about what we are working on together and having the resources and people to make it all happen.

What's been happening this week?

Data driven ways of working

This has me super excited at the moment. It kind of came off the back of a post Andy Callow shared about bed forecasting using the Monte Carlo Simulation. I had to get my sleeves rolled up and refresh my own knowledge.

A table showing lots 1000's of numbers between 0 and 1 to 5 decimal places
Lots of randomness for 100's of simulations

This led me to create our data driven ways of working initiative to improve how product, engineering and management communicate with each other and estimate delivery with more transparency and shared understandings. Lucas an engineering manager in one of my teams has shared the early results and they are looking great. I am really looking forward to using data to highlight probability and surface any contentious topics such as deadlines, estimates, MVP's and managing uncertainty.  

Image showing durations and % likelihood of shipping products
When will the new feature X be ready for release?

There are a number of other sub initiatives to launch off the back of this too which I will initiate this quarter, such as what will the impact of a no meeting week reveal.

I am a firm believer of measure what matters and using data with simulation techniques as a tool to improve how we operate is certainly getting me a bit too excited.

The above screenshots are from some playing around we did using the tools by Troy Magennis who has done some excellent work in this area.

Expansion Plans

This past few weeks I have been working on expansion plans to significantly grow our teams . This has been a joy to do to be honest and made me think of how difficult things like this used to be when trying to increase headcount in the public sector. From idea to execution with board approval in a matter of days WOW!

The next phase of this will be working with our talent acquisition team to ensure we are attracting and recruiting into exceptional teams that have a culture focused on users, phycological safety and delivering exceptional products with data at the centre of our decision making. Exciting Times.

Make things Open it Makes them Better

I had a discussion with our CEO and CPO about starting a blog to share our work in product, engineering, design and research. They loved the proposal I put together, I am looking forward to working with our web platform team and marketing team to start this. In true leadership style I will be writing a few before asking my teams to lean in, although I am pushing on an open door with many of them.

Who did I meet

Long time friend and ex colleague Matt Stibbs. Matt and I go way back spanning a decade now. We have worked on a lot of things together and it was great to catch up with him after what has been far too long. Matt shared some insights into the work he has been doing at NHS Digital, he's one of the unsung hero's that has made a lot of things happen during the pandemic, I can't wait to catch up again soon to hear more about it. Many of my Thursday night claps went to Matt and the many folks at NHS Digital during the lockdowns, they really were a critical part in the response to the pandemic, even if not celebrated by the public masses.👏

Class II Medical Passed

I haven't flown a plane since December last year, this has been due to COVID, arrival of a baby, need for a car and selling the company which have all had an impact on my time and ability to get to the aerodrome. My flight school also changed location from Liverpool EGGP to Hawarden EGNR which is further away for me.

However I am now able to fly again but needed to renew my Class II medical certification. I used a different examiner this time and was so impressed by his workflow it left me with a lot of thinking. He was just so process driven in how he went about the examination, documentation was scanned using a ridiculously fast scanner that seemed to appear on his desk from nowhere. Within no time at all he had everything scanned and shredded everything (again such a fast shredder) and I was done. His workstation looked gorgeous, everything had a purpose and he knew his workflow inside out.

We chatted about it somewhat, he used to be a GP but hated the workflow, systems and overall friction involved with doing his job. So he switched to becoming a CAA Aero Medical Examiner and setup his own company. I was very impressed. There was no doubt he was a pilot which he confirmed when I asked about him.

It has definitely got me thinking about the way I work more, I have a love of checklists which I use to great effect but I definitely have areas to improve on after seeing him in action. Bringing aviation into my daily work is an area I am excited about and I have some ideas of the things I am going to do.

Things I found interesting this week

  • I watched this video on Computational Thinking - Monte Carlo simulation while on the turbo trainer this week. I enjoy the theory of things every bit as much as it's application.
  • I listened to Rachel Murphy on the SARDisms podcast. What a belter this was, I absolutely adore Rach, she has been a big influencer in the path I have taken over this last 6 years. Tweeting about my enjoyment of listening to the podcast has me agreeing to appear on the podcast too, not sure I am that interesting to be honest but I will give it a go.
  • Troy Hunt shares his approach to parenting with respects to Children Online. Looking after our little ones online is something I am super passionate about, especially given how much technology is within our home.
  • I installed Windows 11 on one of my personal lab machines, I love it. I can't wait to install it on my main workhorse. I am thinking of purchasing a new machine soon so may wait until then.