I seem to have used the words “opportunity cost” a lot this month.
As an agency MD, I’m acutely aware that every hour we have in the working week is commercially valuable. It certainly sharpens your focus on the value of time and where to invest that time. The opportunity cost of time is on my mind most days.
That’s why as I write this on the evening of 31st October 2019 – some 1223 days since the UK’s Brexit referendum result was announced (and coincidentally my 40th birthday too) – I reflect on what the UK could have achieved in that time.
Instead addressing important issues in society such as domestic abuse, social care funding, economic growth and a creaking healthcare system have been effectively abandoned in favour of a turgid parliamentary and public sector focus on Brexit (or not).
And that state of paralysis continues in our country too.
I don’t think we’ve properly realised the opportunity cost of Brexit over the past years, let alone the damage that leaving the European Union will do to our country’s prospects as today’s children grow up. I fear my children will grow up living in a more inward looking, narrow minded and intolerant country than I knew growing up.
Opportunity cost has also been a theme for me at work over the past few weeks. It’s been a particularly busy period at Deeson so we’ve needed to be ruthless in making conscious decisions where we put our time.
As organisations evolve and change, it’s all too easy for teams to unconsciously accumulate habits, biases and processes to the extent that people’s natural potential is being stifled. That’s why this piece by Corporate Rebels about simplicity and transformation really resonated with me – thinking about how to minimise opportunity costs in change programmes.
Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow is a new book I’ve read this month. It’s focussed on designing teams and organisations for optimal software development, but had plenty of useful contemporary thinking for other types of people-based service businesses too.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve also been reading Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by David Thaler. It’s not the easiest of reads, but having studied economics and read several books by Daniel Kahneman, I found Thaler’s book a fascinating challenge to traditional economic theories with psychological and behavioural research. On a practical note, there’s a wealth of useful learnings for anyone involved in designing services and products too.
In the digital sphere, I also managed to finish Tools and Weapons: The Promise and The Peril of the Digital Age by Brad Smith. It’s a Microsoft-centric look at some of the big issues affecting digital in global society – including data, privacy, AI, ethics and digital governance. I particularly enjoyed learning about how a large corporate like Microsoft grappled with the pace of public affairs issues that it faced.
At Deeson this October we’ve had plenty of presentations, workshops, team collaboration and launches to celebrate too. We welcomed two new clients to our digital partnership service as well and are looking forward to kicking off work with them very soon.
I’ve also enjoyed getting out and about meeting with potential and current clients to keep learning about the challenges they face for 2020. Some great insights that will help us ensure we continue to provide relevant and valuable work with our clients.
We’ve got two of our popular breakfast briefings coming up at the Shard in November too – one looking at digital in the culture and visitor attraction sectors, with the second focusing on how we’ve helped higher education institutions transform customer interactions with chatbots.
It’s also been a real pleasure this month to see Deeson spin-off business GreenShoot Labs growing strongly. The team has found a strong niche working with conversational AI and developing an open source framework for rapid deployment of conversational tools. And we’re hiring too – check out the priority roles.
Away from Deeson and all things digital, I’ve spent some time this month in my voluntary role as trustee at The Caldecott Foundation in Kent. I’m really enjoying learning new skills operating in a non-executive capacity and get a lot of personal satisfaction from being a very small part of an amazing team that’s changing the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in society.
At today’s board meeting with said goodbye to our chair Mike Lauerman CBE who left the board after ten years as a trustee. In the 14 months I’ve been a trustee I’ve seen the impact of his board leadership.
Mike’s legacy is a charity that’s significantly more effective, financially stable and demonstrably making a positive difference to hundreds of children through residential care, education and fostering services – certainly an achievement he can justifiably be proud of in his well-earned retirement.