A new lesson everyday…

You do know that phrase -“Everyday’s a school-day…”.  Yes?  It dovetails nicely into “When you have stopped learning you’ve stopped living…”.  And we all know people with 20 years experience – but they have actually only 1 year that they have repeated 20 times…

So, I’m setting myself an enormous task for next year.  A tweet a day – under a hashtag i have used already –  #WILY – What I Learnt Yesterday. It will be published at 8.15 everyday.  This is 12 hours earlier than 20:15, my elision time for the year (2015 – geddit???!).  There will be a weekly summary blog – What I Learnt Last Week – expanding on the themes.  And I will publish WILY early 2016, as a collected works book (physical and maybe electronic too…although I get rather tired of Amazon – somehow, can’t really trust them fully, what with their tax scheming mentality…)

Phil not looking worried enough yet....

Phil not looking worried enough yet….

Wish me luck – and I will be grateful for your own WILY’s as the year goes on – I may need the inspiration.

Today’s WILY?  The early bird catches the early bird – we did our food shop at 6:45 yesterday morning, and home and hosed at 7.30.  (Not all of the WILYs will annoy my audience….sorry if you are still out there shopping!)

Tim Kelsey, NHS England

Tim Kelsey is NHS England’s Director for Patients and Information.  A daunting title and brief, if ever there was one.  We were at The Kings Fund last night to enjoy one of Roy Lilley’s Health Chats.

(A point of conscience here.  Father Christmas visited at the end of the chat, and I was given a small bottle of Penderyn Whisky (award winning Welsh (yes) whisky, which was rather nice.  This in no way influenced my blog…)

Roy is one of the worlds best interviewers…(ok – I can stop now, any extra needs more bribery…)

Roy & Tim - afterwards, still friends!

Roy & Tim – afterwards, still friends!

Seriously, the chats do get under the skin.  Every one I have attended has given us the back story to the person who is siting being grilled and toasted by Roy.  It works, because what always floods out at some point is  both why they have achieved their position, and what created that passion in the first place.  And there is always a formative lesson or two in the background.

As an aside, we did have a technology input last night.  Helen Cherry is a deaf health professional was accompanied by a Stenographer, Orla Pearson who is a registered Speech-to-text reporter.  (see their web-site – www.mycleartext.com ). As Orla told me afterwards, one in 3 (wow) over 40’s will have some hearing impairment. One in 7 of the population have some hearing loss.

It was fascinating sitting two rows behind, and seeing the text come up on the lap top about one tenth of a second (literally) behind the interview.  If I missed anything, I found myself looking at the screen – it was that good and fast.  Even at the end when I chatted to the person with the disability (who was lip reading, but some things don’t work – like ‘sherry’ – talking about whisky again!) – so Orla just went back to her steno-graph (yes, like you’ve seen in Rumpole of the Bailey) and carried on.  There is always a way, isn’t there?  Fascinating, fantastic and a bit humbling.

The passion made it quite hard to transcribe at one point Tim spoke at 330 words per minute.  Here’s some of the highlights – as always, biased by my biases, not reportage (this is a cop out for me, Tim – as someone not journalist trained, unlike yourself…)

  • The time line is very ambitious.  By next April, you will be able to access your GP on line record.  You will be able to add, but not edit their side
  • 2018 – all Primary, Emergency and Urgent records will be available
  • Opt in versus opt out – going for opt in, otherwise uptake will be too low?
  • We spend a lot of the health spend on information and allied technology – about 4 or 5% – and need to sweat those assets more
  • We have to be sure there is never a compromising of the privacy of the data. (As an aside: when the Royal Mail was privatised, the private data on postcodes and who is where and what they do (I think) was sold too – despite Tim saying it shouldn’t.  It worries me that the privatization of some NHS services could make this data accessible dressed and disguised the grey area of research??)
  • (Tim said the law has been changed to make it illegal to attempt to re-identify anonymised data (not sodomised, as Roy said on Radio 5 Live…)
  • Our legacy systems – despite everything that has and hasn’t happened in NHS It projects – amke us the most advanced nation, digitally, in the world.  Who knew?

My favourtite quote was from Roy:  “His legacy is your dichotomy” No idea who he was talking about, but don’t you wish you had said that?

And last line to Tim: centred on Genomics, but applicable to his whole remit, I think:

“We are talking the future of mankind here.  With better data – getting the ethics and governance right – it is so important or we will be denying a better future to ourselves and our children”

Passion and vision.  You can’t fake that.  Thanks, both of you.

Would I Lie To You? The importance of trust in business

My good friend Peter Cook (not the dead comedian, the M.D. Human Dynamics / The Academy of Rock – Speaker, Author, Facilitator : Strategy; Innovation; Creativity; Leadership – that one – wrote a blog on LinkedIn recently.  I thought it served many appropriate lessons for organisational life…and ‘honesty’ is one of my deeply held convictions – almost too big a hot button, such that I only give people one chance (which isn’t fair, but life is too short!).  I also love his humourously angry pictures.  Lets hope his ceiling is fixed soon!

read on….

Article cover image

Peter Cook

Q : Should you lie in order to secure an insurance claim?

I was shocked and surprised to learn that my buildings insurance did not cover the sudden and dramatic collapse of the living room ceiling, having recently reviewed and upgraded the cover to what I believed was a good level. When I called Kwik Fit Insurance (The Agent) and Towergate (The Insurance Company), I was even more surprised when the interview commenced with questions about whether I had a criminal record! Just for the record, I don’t have a criminal record, other than a couple of songs by the Fun Loving Criminals and I don’t think this was behind their question. Neither have I ever made an insurance claim in my life. For many years I also had Professional Liability Insurance with Towergate. In short I thought I was a good customer.

Q : Should you assume that all your customers are criminals?

I’d imagine that asking you if you are a criminal is not the first question you would ask on a hot dinner date, so why commence the dialogue in this way? I had really expected something more like “Was anyone injured?” before moving on to ask “if I had taken the ceiling down myself so that I could sell it down the market” and so on. I’m afraid this got things off to a bad start which then got worse in subsequent communications:

“Well darling, before we begin, do you have any convictions?”

Towergate’s Debt Ceiling is approaching £1 bn – is it any wonder that they don’t want to honour claims?

The ceiling fell down with just a few minutes notice and we narrowly missed being under it. As soon as my wife spotted a crack in the cornice one evening, we removed all the items from the room and put sheets down to protect the carpets, but 5 minutes later there was an almighty crash. To my surprise from conversations with the insurers, it seems that this was the wrong thing to do. Apparently we should have left all the furnishings and valuables under the ceiling and claimed for the lot. Moreover, it seems that I was supposed to invent a tragic accident, where water had been spilled upstairs or some other single event that “caused” the collapse. Because I told them that the ceiling fell down due to “gravity” they told me that they considered this “wear and tear”. It seems that I would have been better to suggest that Lionel Ritchie had come round and caused the fall due to his insistence on “Dancing on the Ceiling” all night long …

Q : Hello, is it me you’re looking for? :

Don’t have Lionel Ritchie round for tea if you value your ceilings…

I remain indignant with Towergate insurance and Kwik Fit over this matter. Since I refused to lie about the claim, do not have a criminal record and attempted to minimise damage to my property to save claiming, it looks as though they will not support my claim.

You may well be thinking “Well surely you should have looked at the terms and conditions” and you are right. Yet, these do not talk about exclusions in older buildings. On further investigation, it seems there are a lot of people being caught out in similar circumstances. 61% of the UK population are unaware that their ceilings are not considered part of their buildings insurance if they fall down with no catastrophic single cause. I would argue that the insurance industry likes it this way as they never have to pay a claim. There is also a missed opportunity to sell additional insurance on older properties where a ceiling collapse is a much more probable event. Most houses built before 1940 are constructed with Lath and Plaster ceilings and are at risk of collapse at some stage as the ceilings dry out with hotter summers and so on.

Q : If the majority of the population believe ceilings are covered by buildings insurance, has the insurance industry failed to communicate this issue?

I doubt I will get any assistance in restoring my ceiling from Towergate insurance or Kwik Fit who handle the policy. I remain resentful that they would have preferred me to lie in order to make a claim. An insurance insider commented to the effect that the industry has good reason to mistrust the public, which seems to confirm that there is a massive communications issue to be managed here:

“A triumph of ambition over adhesion”

This was a quote from a client, Shaun, when we were chatting about a 360 appraisal.  He is a Formula 1 fan – (pretty serious – went to the Singapore Grand Prix on his honeymoon!)

The quote was from a TV commentary on the race were Lewis Hamilton won this years championship…but as with a lot of sport, the metaphor helps us in other business settings than formula one’s rarefied atmosphere…

  1. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”.  F! always pushes the boundaries.  If you don’t fail sometimes though, you aren’t going to win…simple.
  2. “There are 3 types of organisation:  Those who make things happen: Those who watch what happens; Those who wonder what happened.”  Would the cars go as fast and as efficiently if F1 wasn’t in group 1 here?  Would we have diesel turbo’s and low emissions without their research?  Would the UK be further behind the technology curve if 95% of F1 research wasn’t done in the UK?  Most organisations in my experience are in the middle group.  Top and bottom – maybe 5 % of organisations – the top ones thrive, the wonder what happened go out of business.  The fastest moving organisations tend to have loads of new ideas – but then pick on a few and push them remorselessly, and confidently.  You can’t do 20 things at once..but you can do 3…

A lot of the thinking about the quote “a triumph of ambition over adhesion” applies to individuals and to projects as well as to organisations as a whole.  Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter (“The Change Masters”) said that projects often failed just as they were about to ‘work’.  The naysayers keep telling you ‘told you so – we tried it before…’.  And it is just at the time when the project team are too tired to fight back.  They lose their adhesion, and the project slips away…

And finally, just think of yourself – have you ever slid off the track because you didn’t think and plan carefully enough?  Or at least, made sure that as you ‘went for it’, you had systems in place to stop a complete breakdown?

I think metaphors are useful, and just help us sort the wheat from the chaff – especially if we are a bit stuck!

(Thanks for the idea, Shaun)