A follow-up conversation with repeat guest Eileen Jennings-Brown on techniques for becoming a better leader.
In this episode, Ryan and Eileen chat about leadership and exchange career stories.
Meet Our Guest
Eileen Jennings-Brown is the Head of Technology at Wellcome, a global charitable foundation supporting science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone, including mental health, global heating and infectious diseases. She was named one of CW's Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech in 2020. Eileen is also a mentor, tech advocate, speaker, and champion for inclusivity and equality in STEM.
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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in their field story from the frontlines. The problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology people and processes to the approaches they took that will help you to get to the script for the digital workspace inner workings.
Eileen Jennings-Brown 0:31
I really well how are you?
Ryan Purvis 0:33
Yeah, not too bad. Thanks. And see you beautiful sunshine out there. Yeah,
Eileen Jennings-Brown 0:37
yeah, no, sir. Is really set in about 10 minutes, but it is really nice. Time. Is that where you are, then you're on the same time. So you
Ryan Purvis 0:48
were about two hours ahead of you. So it's two o'clock. No, sorry. I lost betting four o'clock.
Unknown Speaker 0:58
Right for four o'clock. What time?
Ryan Purvis 1:01
down? At seven ish. Oh, of course. You're
Unknown Speaker 1:05
closer to the equator, right? Yes. So yeah, more daylight?
Ryan Purvis 1:09
Yeah. So Cape Town during the summer gets gets it goes to like nine o'clock? 10 o'clock? Yeah. We get prefer a sign up and sort of seven o'clock sundowns.
Unknown Speaker 1:23
Every day, every day? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 1:26
Do you find it hard to adjust when you go to somewhere that has lasers in the winter or hours of daylight in the summer? And also we adjust our time zones?
Ryan Purvis 1:40
I'm not a fan of adjusting time zones, like the daylight savings. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of it, I think. And I know, there's sort of some logic to why they do it. But I think it creates more chaos than worth. Yeah, that's what I heard the other day, actually. They keep it for the Scottish schools. Okay, that was the last one I heard. But obviously goes back to World War One, World War Two, where they're trying to save oil for electricity, powering things. But I don't think it makes any difference in this day and age where you have, you know, lighting Come on, and on a timer, and you can have, you know, sensors and all that kind of stuff. And then you can, we don't need the extra hour shift each season. Personally, I do struggle with the less like thing. So I take vitamin D supplement during winter, we have a new game more than I'm so tickled anyway, well, I doubled up in winter. And I'm trying to get out as much as I can. Even if it's a miserable day, I'd rather be outside and have no sun than they'd be inside. But it took us a good couple years it used to it. Because it's in your your body kind of grows up a certain way and gets used to certain rhythms.
Unknown Speaker 3:00
Yeah, it's interesting, what you say about you heard has to do with the Scottish skills. And originally it was to do with power, because I heard originally it was to do with agriculture during the war, and it was so that farmers had more daylight to be able to do farming. So funny. What you hear is in different parts of the world, I guess. But why?
Ryan Purvis 3:27
Yeah, at home if I read it or something someone told me, it's also a bit of a research I've always been. I'm fascinated though by watching the sunrise sunset time. So I said one of those weird idiosyncrasies, I guess. So, like I look forward to the solstices, because I know that's the longest day or the shortest day. Yeah, like, like I like to see because I usually in the morning, so I'm almost always watching CMS, like I'm going to have from the morning, which is kind of where I agree with the conclusion. I agree with a slope in in winter, because, you know, mornings become darker and darker, then you move it back one hour and you get a bit more light. But in the same token, I think we could artificially create a lot. So you know, we don't have a power problem, per se.
Unknown Speaker 4:17
Yeah. And notice it's very topical. So by getting rid of a, a suspect that had Coronavirus that happened this year, then they may have pushed that to be even harder in order to get rid of it. So we'll see. It's interesting what you say about vitamin D supplement as well as having a conversation with someone yesterday about why is business conducted between nine and five and why are we pushed into this window? Because if we've all got to take vitamin D because we don't get enough daylight Why on earth are we there being forced into buildings between the hours of nine to five when you've got all the base daylight it just makes more sense. And so society needs to look at what work working hours and times meet Because we are a 24 hour world now, aren't we?
Ryan Purvis 5:03
It's Yeah, it's funny, I'm trying to remember what whatever I think it was in the lean, lean startup book that I read is the guy who came up with. I think this was the Henry Ford times, again, the whole factory mindset, this this whole working 95, or shift working, goes back to those days where Henry Ford started hiring people to work in factories to build the cars. And he was paying them a premium to come work but had to work shifts. Yeah. And it was all about efficiency, effectiveness of the process. And this this guy, like I remember, you know, obviously, this I read this book a couple weeks ago. But this guy came up with the whole methodology of measurement of manufacturer and all that sort of stuff, which at the time was revolutionary. It completely changed the game. But in hindsight, you look back now, it doesn't fit to what you're saying now, which I agree with is that we are we're a should be a results orientated industry, as opposed to a nine to five factory mindset, which always, always killed me, we, you know, if you're not in the office, by nine o'clock, you're not working factory in the office in some places by not working. And meanwhile, you might have work to turn up in the morning and done a whole lot of stuff, because that's your perfect time to work. And does it come down to a person being comfortable?
Unknown Speaker 6:17
Yeah. And it's not a digital age? No, the world is smaller, and everything is digital. And so what was good for the 1940s doesn't mean it has to still be good for today. Move forward. 80 years is very different, though. So well, maybe we are on the brink. We talk about a fourth revolution. And perhaps Coronavirus is the is the catalyst that will help everyone realize, you know, we've always had lots of catalysts to drive the agenda, but the catalyst of realization that we are on this fourth revolution, so what else can we break in order to build it back up and fix it?
Ryan Purvis 6:59
Well, it's funny how I don't remember before the 2000, they were talking about the Mayan prophecy about this great mental shift wasn't isn't the end of the world. But it was the end of the middle. You know, it was a it was a big shift mentally. And now in 2020. And now we've had a reason to mentally shift. And it's as it just happens to be a two zero to zero as opposed to 2000. Which, you know, continue with an old oatcake calendar system, which still works, and they've already waited for all. And
Unknown Speaker 7:34
I have to say right, you're incredibly well, right. And you know, lots of pieces of information. This is a joy listening to you share all
Ryan Purvis 7:45
Unknown Speaker 7:48
you share with me?
Unknown Speaker 7:53
Well, yeah, I'm sure there's a name, you'll have some interesting insight about it.
Ryan Purvis 7:58
But I remember doing an introduction to a, I was joining a team. Oh, yeah, I am. I have an introduction. And what happened was, before I joined that, I went away to have a weekend away. So I took some time off where I was. And we didn't join them on this weekend away. And they asked me to get out. I mean, this is after, you know, a blast to one. And this is what you might do an introduction. Remember saying something along the lines of whatever you got to say whatever you got to ask, I will have an opinion, I will have some useless fact to say. It's been a consistent thing in my career to have.
Unknown Speaker 8:35
It's how we can define you. Ryan, opinionated. Yeah.
Ryan Purvis 8:46
So So I've done a lot of work. When I moved to the UK. I was really lucky. That's one of my old customers. When I was based in South Africa worked for Citibank, he moves JP Morgan Hi. And we moved over because my wife got a job on the Olympics. And we sort of said, if we're going over, we go over to get the passports and the whole spiel, because, you know, kids must get them and all that sort of stuff. So I got him an email saying listen, and bit more of the story. So so my wife worked on the FIFA World Cup. That's how I met her. I met her at that time. And she had had brain surgery during that period. So during so we benefited from watching a lot of football because she couldn't work with all these tickets to use. But she really had the bag for these big events. So so she said to me, she was working for after the World Cup and she because she was working for a horse racing bunch. She wanted to work on the Olympics. And I sort of lost and said, why would you know, why would they hire you? 10,000 kilometers away, unless you've got some context, knows that she's going to work on it. It's going to happen. Anyway, we just bought a house and moved into it in December and January. He applied for three jobs. And in January she the two jobs of the three that she wanted, she got declined for. And I said, Well, you know, that's so bad about this other job, you know, if it's meant to be is meant to be and come to the end of March, sort of third week of March, she gets a phone call. And they said, Would you be able to start in a week's time looking at a woman, and she's like, let me talk to my husband, I was like, well, we can't get in, we can get in two weeks, because we had to gather an additional reader. So we ended up flying out and arriving in the UK on the 30th of March. And at the same time, I dropped this old client of mine an email, say, Listen, I'm coming up to the UK, we're moving, I need help finding a job because, you know, the guys that I work for now won't keep me, well, they won't pay me. based out of London, I have to be raised at a job. Okay, so I resigned. And our industry, it's all him. And I had two opportunities, really, and why not sustain the sort of pre sales world or software vendor world. And the other one was to jump to the client side, which was to project more, sort of underlord never worked for a customer, I've always been the guy selling into the customer, also, fully solutions customers, this would really be a good opportunity to see what other sides like. So we saw, fortunately, go through the process and got hired, and started working on this product called sis track, which is a liaison software, as an agent that measures experience, that sort of stuff. And the thing that really appealed to me in the project, or of the things to do, was to build a self healing engine. So to look at all the data we're collecting across desktops, all the services, why kind of stuff and build some sort of, or not AI or machine learning, which was 10 years ago, it was just some sort of engine to do to do fixes. proactively heal the desktop. And that was really interesting, because that was going into, you know, using data to make good decisions. So I got to know the legside guy last time, you know, working with the product and getting to know all the engineers and flying back and forth between Detroit and the UK. And through that process, hey, there was a head start on a podcast, and a mattress that made it sort of in the in the, in the offices and that, and that sort of podcast diving into your neighborhood podcast a few times. And sort of fast forward to last year this time. I was dying to start one. But everyone else sort of involved in doing it wasn't a as passionate about it as Hey, there is. And so one, would you would you mind helping get mine started? Or do you like 10 episodes. And if it doesn't work off to 10, you know, you can go your way go my way, I just gave it a shot. And here we are 3035 34. down, and we recorded for the whole of November, December last year. So it must backlog. We're ready. Yeah. interesting going on. So. So that's, that's how it's how it's progressed.
Unknown Speaker 13:07
That is fantastic. That's a great story. And then in terms of people that you then how you go about finding people that you want to have a conversation with? Do you just do that through your networks? Or do you liquor? You know, people like me to make recommendations for introductions, what is your method?
Ryan Purvis 13:27
Yeah, so it's a bit of everything to be quite honest. You know, I've never really had the fear of, of not reaching out to somebody. So I might see someone post something on LinkedIn and reach out and say, let's have our podcast and would you like to come on? I mean, one of the reasons for the podcast was to talk to people and have a good reason to talk to them beyond, you know, some of this nonsense you see on LinkedIn, where someone reaches out to you. And the first message is, Hey, how are you doing? That's a misuse, I'd like to sell you a service, or I would like, more of your time. But this is a nice way where, you know, I think everyone benefits, you know, the guest gets some visibility, and, you know, within the sphere of what, what are you talking about? It I get to talk to them about stuff that I potentially don't know about, which means, you know, build up more knowledge, which, which is great. And then, you know, from a sort of authenticity, point of view or authority point of view, people who hear my voice will associated with knowing about this stuff, which is the stuff that I really enjoy talking about. So the question, I guess it started off with what I wrote down 50 people that I wanted to talk to, and then I started talking to those people, and then through that, as I did different networking things, I would pay people or see something or just put a post as a Hey, I'd love to talk to someone about this. And they would reply in an effort which was scheduled, oh, yeah. And it's actually, you know, in a way not difficult to find people to talk to so. In fact, one of my challenges is, I've almost got too many people that have said we'll talk to you I haven't actually scheduled them. I mean, I feel really, really bad that I've spoken. Someone said, Oh, yeah, we'll talk in December. And we're a week away from Christmas. And we haven't booked anything yet. So
Unknown Speaker 15:12
I was gonna say that is a good problem to have. I like it. And it's interesting what you say about the people on LinkedIn and how they approach you, I think that they've changed tack a little. And now they say, hey, arranger profiles really impressed. I think we should connect, because there could be synergies between our business. And then when you have a look at what they do. They're a sales person. And yeah, I can imagine Ryan, you have got very long list of people whose LinkedIn request you have just not accepted, you haven't even ignore it, we probably don't even know that the day or you're way more noble than I am.
Ryan Purvis 15:49
What I will accept it. And it's a very solid reason why I'm already getting abused first. But my feeling is that LinkedIn is like any social media is a place where you build a community. And while some I have to put up with a little bit of them trying to sell me something there one more person that's going to listen to what I have to say, we'll see what I have to share. So down the road, it may become useful to Javelin, but I do laugh at some of these guys, because they said they look you up. So I've had about 25. And I'm probably under under colinas number, people reaching out to me to promote my podcast. But the first question is, do you have a podcast on iTunes? And I'm like, Well, if you've looked at my profile, that's the first thing you should be able to see. Because the only things I really posted on the episode that I'm releasing, so if you did a little bit of research, you know, we'd have something to talk about.
Unknown Speaker 16:41
Yeah, do your homework. Exactly. That applies to many things. So the devil is in the detail. Although I've heard that phrase also said as good as in the detail. Either way, both are true. detail. detail is the thing that will catch you if you don't pay attention to it, you know? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 17:01
Unknown Speaker 17:03
So you one of the things that we touched on the last time or Well, we ever so slightly touched on the ag saw was about leadership. Yeah. And, and I know that we have an outstanding conversation to have about 15. Five. So I don't know if it's worth going into those a little bit more for your audience. And I can tell you about them and tell you about how I perceive them. Yes, that is value.
Ryan Purvis 17:33
That's exactly what's on my mind. So yeah.
Unknown Speaker 17:35
Okay, what would you like to know?
Ryan Purvis 17:38
Well, firstly, the 15. Five, because I wanted to know if there was, well, I want you to tell me what it is. I was wondering if it's something that I've used before with a different name.
Unknown Speaker 17:46
Ah, it could well be okay, what is it, I'll tell you what it is today. And then I'll tell you where it came from and how I discovered it. Today it is product. It is for performance management. And it's an app where people record their challenges, they record objectives, they record things that they want to achieve that week, they can tell you how they feel they can score five, and then as a leader you can go in and hopefully we can figure out if you have to move some blockers either way, so that the individual can achieve the chapter objectives. And if there's something in there a trained, perhaps someone's consistently feeling a bit low, then it gives you an opportunity to have a conversation with them draw that out, also that this particular product, I mean, that's at a very high level, there's so much that you can do within the particular 15 five performance management product. And something that the team do is they ask specific questions that are targeted questions to try and get answers. So it's like a poll, actually, the most recent one that I saw was, do you feel connected to welcomes mission? And then it is literally a yes or no answer. But those who do not, you get your poor results, you can go and find out why. And then as a leader, you can do something about that. And you can understand that if it's serious enough for you to have to do something about it. I particularly like because I like to capture the welfare of the staff. And I kind of I think if you look after the staff, you make sure that their needs are being met, whether it is being cared or being respected or being included, you know, those seven underpinning values that people have, if you can make sure that you're being met, then productive high performing focused staff is actually the outcome that you will get if you can look after the basic needs. So that's why I like this tool. I actually discovered the concept about 12 years ago and A boss of mine wanted it presented as a PowerPoint presentation back then, and it was called 55. Because it takes me as the writer 15 minutes to compile, it's just not as effectively. And it takes three to five minutes to reach. So that's where the label 15 five comes from. And I can, because I can see you on this podcast, actually, I, you're nodding. And so that tells me that this might sound like a thing that you have either used before or have heard of before. What's your thoughts?
Ryan Purvis 20:35
Yeah, so I, why the thing was called the full blocks, which was funded on a PowerPoint slide. And I always wanted to turn it into an app, which is why I find it so funny. But it was some it was similar in the sense that you had these four blocks, which which were literally your highlights your you thinking about things that have you about things that just you want to do and things that need improvement, I could be anything that was really a one to one discussion, and it was literally like, every week, we'd have to say like upload your slides, we'll go talk to anyone who got it the day before I can look at it, and we can go talk about an economy evolve slightly tablet, a second slide, which was because because the slides became very tactical, and demos, I always had to sort of try and avoid making it an operational update. Like, you know, today I deployed, you know, to agents, or whatever it was, but it was more like, you know, being a pilot or learning this stuff, or you would like to, you know, learn a bit more about data science and other sorts of things you want to want to find out about your team. But the second slide was more about long term objectives, goals, learning things just to try because often what would happen is people get so caught up in in working, that they only think about working and ever think about at the end of the life, also maybe learn language or work on my masters or something else like that. So that was the concept that came out before blocks was was an interpretation of a Harvard Business Review article that I did on a on a course where they were trying to to build communities through sharing vulnerable statements.
Unknown Speaker 22:23
Ryan Purvis 22:25
these little questions. And it was a similar premise in the sense that the comment was made a common infection that did it we they asked for questions. And any of those questions, the answers, if there was further questions, there would be sent up the chain and the commitment was that the chain would come back within 24 hours.
Eileen Jennings-Brown 22:44
Ryan Purvis 22:45
If you said you wanted to go do an MBA, you get a yes or no, or you need to give us a justification within 24 hours, then you see, always knew where you were in the business. And then because the questions were standardized, all the approaches that arise, it was very easy for everyone to just do it no matter where they worked in the business if they transferred work, because I know you find these things become a way a certain team works.
Unknown Speaker 23:07
Yeah, that's true,
Ryan Purvis 23:08
then the people won't leave because they weren't they go to another team, they won't have that comfort of well, I hear that listen to me. And when I go there, a team might be different. So you know, this was a bit of stagnation. So the concept, I think it's a fantastic thing is,
Unknown Speaker 23:25
I think one of the other things I like about this particular app. So the concept from back in the day when I started using as a PowerPoint and it was literally to call it what do you think you're gonna achieve at an objective level, actually, at an outcome level? Not? Are you gonna deliver five software updates as well? What's the outcome? So you back in the day you would identify as an outcome. And then it's definitely moved on. So this app, I use no online, you can actually High Five somebody and because it's a community of people that use it, and integrates with slack and stuff like that. So but because it's a community of people that use it across the whole team, then some members of the team who normally or who typically not work together, or even talk to each other, might have delivered a specific thing as part of a virtual team. And they might have done that together so they can kind of find each other and everybody else can see this. So I saw I saw we get a high five, welcome. We're doing an organizational way to redesign. And there was an announcement a couple of weeks ago about it from our chief exec. So straight off the back of that I held an Ask me anything session with the team and half an hour window, just come on anything you want to know. Whatever I either can tell you or I know I'll tell you. Anyway, I saw on Friday that one of the members of the team gave me a high five for doing that. And I thought it was so nice. I I'm doing it because it's the responsible thing to do. But the fact that they took the timer and it obviously made an impact on them in a positive way. And so I just want to acknowledge alien publicly, I just think this is great. And it actually generates this kind of community. And, and comradery, actually, across everybody, where they do feel like they're one big teams who support each other. And I think that goes back to some of the things we were saying about being self organized. Because they, it just encourages that more, they feel empowered, they're more self organizing themselves. So it's great. So I don't mind using something like this, it's difficult to get off the ground and get people buy in, because it's just another tool. But once you have been able to help them see the value, and you have created the culture and the environment in which something like this will benefit everybody, then, I mean, as a leader is great, especially in lockdown, because I can't see, I can't see people, I can't just look across the office floor and see if you are having a bad day or get hassled by Sunday, you just none of us visible anymore. But I can draw it through this too. So that's been useful. But I do like your idea about the four blocks, I have myself use things like that before. And I've even used that in a way to figure out what my priorities are in life. So how much of my time do I want to spend on myself? On my family, on my job? And then what's that one big thing that I want to try and achieve in the future? And then just figure out how much of your time you can spend on these things? So I've used that for blocks used in that way as well.
Ryan Purvis 26:35
Is that is that based on the Eisenhower matrix? Or could it be?
Unknown Speaker 26:39
It could be it was never sold to me as this is a matrix that someone's put together. And this is how you use it. And I saw others using for blocks in different models in different way. And different ways. And I thought this is actually what I need to know better. I've reached a point in my career where I No need to think about how much of my time do I want to spend on me on my job, I am rather altruistic, and I will put everyone's needs before myself. And that's more to do with just my personality. But that comes at a cost, doesn't it? Because then you don't spend time on yourself. And so I reached a point where I needed to think about what is it that I want? And the four blocks helped me figure that out. But if it's her then I didn't know that had a label.
Ryan Purvis 27:26
Well, so now so he had an advisor how you did your full block. So did you did you put like the Cartesian plane, so according to 1234, and then each one had a sort of different priority for you. Yes.
Unknown Speaker 27:42
Yeah. Hi, my four areas I wanted to focus on. And then I had to prioritize them within that. Yes.
Ryan Purvis 27:49
Okay, so what he did? Is your your axes were various was due to this. Were complexity, I think, versus priority. You know what, I'm actually going to go over talking because I don't
Unknown Speaker 28:08
like complexity or effort.
Ryan Purvis 28:10
If it was it was Yeah, either. Now. Matrix.
Unknown Speaker 28:15
See, now you're making me want to Google this. And then what's gonna happen is I have an aha moment. And oh, yeah, that's it. I didn't know I had a name.
Ryan Purvis 28:23
Yeah. So yeah, yes, it was agency. Versus importance. And then you had Yes, quadrant one was urgent and important. Do it now quadrant two. So it would be your top right was important, but not urgent, deciding to do it. And then three is not important. And you could potentially delegate it. And then 494 and not urgent and dump it?
Unknown Speaker 28:45
Yeah, I've used that before. And actually, that's a prioritization model, isn't it? I use that for prioritizing. But I would use that within the identify how much of my time do I want to spend on developing myself? And how important is that to me? And what's the outcome I'm looking to achieve? And how much of my time do I want to spend on my job? And what what are the four key things I want to achieve in my job? So I've saved some money, like, I couldn't tell if this thing exists already. But I certainly used a couple of different methods in order to help me understand myself better. And then what my priorities were, to me. It's interesting, because I have literally just googled that and it's come up as the procrastinate the procrastination matrix. I watched though, I watched a TED talk the other day, and it's a guy about a guy talking about people who procrastinate, and actually they're the most creative people. And then he taught he told a story about these guys have an idea and the the, got the starting blocks, 100 miles an hour and he said he'd invest. then by the time it got to six months down the road, and the thing was good. Due to I was due to go live, nothing had happened in it. There was a fantastic idea. And then about three weeks before it was due to go live, there was a huge flurry of activity and ended up being a really successful company. But in this six month window where nothing happened, he was getting very agitated, because he was wanting to see progress. And what he realized is that what the guys were doing within the six month window was procrastinating. And that's when they were being their most creative. And they were figuring out how they were actually going to solve the problem that they had identified needed solving. But how are they going to do it in a way that they was going to meet the market leaders? So the whole tech talk is about the fact that you're the best. And the best business people, the best innovators are actually procrastinators. It's quite good. I mean, he could all say we're all procrastinators, and therefore we're all innovators. Or we could all sit here and going, Oh, procrastination is really bad. You should procrastinate, just get the job done. There's many ways to spend things so that the old saying good to the audience, but I quite like that.
Ryan Purvis 31:07
It's a very good thing, if you will. And what I find is always a challenge, you don't always have the time to procrastinate. So you're involved in delivering things all the time, or pushing the button or pushing the team to deliver something. But actually, if you gave them and maybe this is the Google thing, sort of one day, a week, one day a month to do whatever you want, whatever project was a good thing. Because if you keep pushing everyone every day, they don't really take a step back and think about is this actually the best way to do this? They just they just delivered as fast as they can.
Unknown Speaker 31:41
Unknown Speaker 31:44
It sounds like some animals are being dumped by your
Ryan Purvis 31:50
my daughter crying and crying
Unknown Speaker 31:55
out back from over here.
Ryan Purvis 32:02
ever thinks in Africa you walk around animals will grab with you? Okay.
Yes, it's fine to go through leave at the moment. So you know, she's fed or, or whatever?
Unknown Speaker 32:19
Unknown Speaker 32:21
Yeah, she's such a new baby. You know? Yeah. Anything Goes?
Ryan Purvis 32:25
Yeah. As a really funny story. So a couple years. Back, when I was in high school, we had a team from New Zealand play hockey team come out on tour. And they obviously stayed with us as a resin to their families and schools and buildings. And we pick these guys up from the airport. And while we're driving them back to our house, I sit and listen, when we get to the house, you need to you need to put the lines away. And I was like, you know don't joke haha. And then we got to go back to the house and we parked in the driveway and I got out and I was still talking away. And I looked at us What do you guys do in the store? We're waiting for you to say you can come out because you put the lines
Unknown Speaker 33:06
on. Oh, you could have so much fun with I can you you know, yeah, can bring them to Scotland and tell them that they got to go and catch haggis and run around a mountain because you got one leg longer than the other they got to go to some random mountain.
Unknown Speaker 33:25
You can't have so much fun. Can you
Unknown Speaker 33:31
Unknown Speaker 33:33
a swamp last week we hated her she caught with a move to South Africa.
Ryan Purvis 33:40
Um, she's she's probably better than my son. So so he's he's almost three. So we were planning to fly back on the fourth or fifth. Okay. The second affair. And so we really plan this trip we will actually fly in fact, we would have landed today. But we came early because of the lockdowns and he's actually taking the most strain because he I think he had a better routine. So, you know, he was going to school, he had friends. We were doing stuff in the mornings, you know, all that. So he had a nice, you know, in his home where he was safe. And now he's sort of, you know, we're in obviously a different country, which he's been in before, but he's been here since he was born, you know, every year but now he's realizing that it's different. And he keeps wanting to go home. So you know, it's also it's tough but I don't think he sees the value or he doesn't see the adventure that it is because he's sporting because he only three almost three. And that his time with his grandparents like kind of stuff. So it's that's what she's she's fine. She's sleeping through like he's taking a bit of strain.
Unknown Speaker 34:48
Yes, not that you can tell them that. You know, you got to go and put the lines away every night and they'll believe you and that's an adventure but it's just Oh boy.
Ryan Purvis 34:57
But we did we do go every year we come in Go to a hotel called karma town, which is in the pilanesberg isn't a game Park. It is lovely. If you ever get it, it's definitely worth going to. One of the things I really enjoyed the restaurant because it's a it's it's dinner in Britain, then a bit of breakfast included. So you have breakfast and dinner in the same place. And that's on a watering hole.
Unknown Speaker 35:25
Ryan Purvis 35:26
elephant sitting across from you while you're eating breakfast or having been there, we've seen some good line there. But then you got to protect the screen between you and the lion. That's that's what I look forward to we come back at what's my five days of doing absolutely nothing but the bush.
Unknown Speaker 35:46
Yeah, that's your downtime, is that the only breaks that you get in any year.
Ryan Purvis 35:51
Um, we take a little break. But I tend to try and get a cannot work in a work setting and kind of work on something else. So not to take too much time off. But as long as you're doing something, you're doing the same every day, you get a refresh by doing something different. So writing something or whatever.
Unknown Speaker 36:11
There's that saying, isn't there a change is as good as a rest?
Ryan Purvis 36:14
Yes, yes, exactly.
Unknown Speaker 36:16
And I think that after the year that everybody's had where there's been very little change, because let's face it, the commute to the office was from your bedroom to your living room or something like that, then, you know, arrest is actually what people need to know.
Ryan Purvis 36:29
Yeah, well, it's funny, because I mean, you were commuting to London. So you had a bit of a commute to deal with. And I actually missed my commute, because it was it was a buffer, do other stuff. Or you said his face?
Unknown Speaker 36:43
Yeah, I mean, it goes back to the whole procrastination thing, doesn't it? Because you're absolutely right. When when I would do the commute, I was in work mode from four o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock on a Thursday night. Yeah. And then I would work from home on the Friday, but that always felt like a holiday, even though I was just doing calls. And then Saturday and Saturday was my own Sunday for some reason and start to get back into work mode. But, but the whole commute was a really good time for me to properly switch off and feel like I was mentally disconnecting. Because not only was I doing quite a long commute, but I was going to a different country. So it just felt like there was a real clean break. No, it is I am coexisting with my work and my home life are just coexisting. And that takes a lot more adjusting to. So a little bit like what you were seeing when you first moved to the UK and then the whole team's differences. And you know, the daylight saving it takes more getting used to because because it's a new thing. Yeah. But on the procrastination thing, I'm also interest actually got off on one of procrastination. But I'm interested to hear you talk about Google when you do this one day, a month. And then people can do whatever they want. Because actually one of the things that we do welcome, is we work in sprints, so we are working sprints, and then riello in every sprint 50% capacity to deal with the keeping the lights on work. Yeah, so this sprint, the planned work is change. And we do three, two week sprints. And then we have a week or so we have a firebreak every six weeks, and that firebreak, everyone can do anything they want, as long as it is relevant. So that's where the get we call it 10% time, but that's where they can go off and procrastinate, they can go off and study if they want, they can go and find a new way of solving our particularly difficult problem. One of the guys, I love this about the team because they are very empowered. One of the guys got a supplier to come in. And they had what they called a rusty, the supplier came in, taught them all how to program racecars, and then release them around a track for the afternoon. I mean, I mean, that's just not you wouldn't see that that was doing work at all. But actually, they're learning coding and the skills that they're learning and his team building and all that kind of stuff is there is a lot of relevant things going on there. And they did that under 10% time. So that's what one of the things that we do. So I, as a result, we have a lot of innovation that goes on in the team. And then we have a model that enables the organization. If anybody comes up with an idea at any point in time, they can get it into the system. The can have a feasibility assessment done against it, they actually own the feasibility. And then if it's good enough, and it requires digital technology to help them solve the problem, then we would help them do that. And it's it's we're breaking this relationship with it. Financial Planning, annual change planning and actually trying to get into our ruling. Every quarter we will be planning, we will be forecasting, we have long term budget plans for change what changed it? Well, the point is this model enables everybody to innovate. So it's quite exciting. And that is part of my leadership style, which is to empower people is to give them the space to come up with new ideas, and feel like they're owning their role, their work. And the 55 is really good for that as well to help people take responsibility and accountability for their work, because they do feel we've created this culture where they feel empowered. So I just want to talk about that very quickly. Because it has a name.
Ryan Purvis 40:49
Okay, what's the name of the office?
Unknown Speaker 40:51
It is, it is called intent based leadership. Lot. So it's a new sort of a boss thing. It's been around for a while, but it seems to be gaining traction. So it's last year. And cloud based leadership is where you are creating an environment where people feel empowered. And what you actually have to do as a leader is learn to let go, which is difficult because it's breaking very traditional mindsets and biases, but you have to learn to let go be comfortable with letting go and put the decision making where the information is. So some decisions I have to retain, but that's because of what I'm accountable for. But otherwise, you put the decision making where the information is, instead of the information being pushed to pushed to use a leader, you then having to make everyone's decisions for everyone else, subsequently being the blocker. So he was working in Agile, where you want to create a high performing team, you want to have staff feel like their underlying core values are being met. And people are empowered, then try to learn intent based leadership. So one of the things I will often be heard saying to my team is don't ever ask me for permission. In fact, I see it less and less known. But don't ever ask me for permission, tell me what you intend to do, you come and tell me what it is that you are going to do. And that's the conversation that we need to be having. And we also talk about outcomes, not tasks. So I don't have the capacity to get into task level conversation. Outcome level conversation, please. So it's working really well. But it's, it's, it takes a lot of learning and training and educating and supporting and coaching people to think about intent based leadership. It's also a lot of effort and helping leaders learn to let go. Yeah, but it's very rewarding.
Ryan Purvis 42:55
Yeah, that's a it's a couple things that resonate with me that so so one of those is what we wouldn't call intent or said solution leadership, which is, you little teams come up with a solution or people come up with a solution. And your job is to be the sounding board to, to hear the solution, not as the terror part, but when asked, you know, is, you know, what about this? What about that, you know, sort of be that thing. But you know, it's really for them to own it, and you to get out the way or get things out of the way. And the guy who gave the best example of this, and this is going back a long time ago. And he was explaining the difference between being a manager of a team being a team leader. And he said that a manager will go by the takeaway, and people are working late without asking them, because he knows they're hungry, as opposed to a team leader trying to get everyone to tell them what he wants to know. So you're getting takeaways. And one of those enables him to carry on doing what they're what they're involved in, it doesn't disturb the other one is is an irritation, a pain in the ass. And it's always sad to me, in essence, that that's what you need to do is finding the ways to keep people in growth and what they're doing in flight and flowing. And you just keep sort of finding what they need to keep that going.
Unknown Speaker 44:18
Yes, lessons like salmon based leadership. So in the world of agile, they call it server based leadership move the blockers out. It's interesting, because I've heard the same thing as well. But I I said the difference between our manager, a leader and a boss. So what's one of the conversations that I had quite often over the past year was helping people understand when you were being a leader, and when they were being a boss, a boss will tell you what to do, and how to do it. A leader will show you and so I observed you know people who are You into management think that actually the there's this weird expectation that they have to know how to do everything. And everybody looks to them and tells them what to do and then how to do it. And that's just that is just a part of the fact that that person then becomes a blocker. And that's not empowering people to learn from their own mistakes. It does take a long time to build a culture where people do feel confident, to make their own mistakes, and discover things for themselves. And that's how you grow leaders as well. was one of the things that we had to do is make sure that there was no blame culture. Yeah. And that exists everywhere, particularly in it. finger pointing, he did it. And
Ryan Purvis 45:40
yeah, especially with the engineering business Ops,
Unknown Speaker 45:43
oh, yeah. Yeah. And I remember when I first moved into the role, somebody had made a decision to make a change that then to code every single computer. And it was a great, you know, it was a great change. But I realized very, very early on that actually, the decision making where the information is, is not always doesn't always work. And so I remember having a very long conversation with the team about understanding risk, understanding accountability, having a backup plan, recognizing the bigger picture and the impact. But what we didn't know what we didn't do, and this has been the aim or from the very start is that we didn't blame anybody, we just accept it and then rally together as a team, and then move forward in order to fix it. Removing blame out of a culture is, whilst it can be difficult, because people have a lot of institutional memory, once you've been able to achieve that, then people are more comfortable and confident in their decisions and taking responsibility for their actions and actually be more supportive of each other, there's a lot more empathy that goes around and compassion because the Norco feels. So I do think if people have a blame that is within their culture, then please think about how you might get rid of that as well.
Ryan Purvis 47:09
No, it's not. And I and I remember many conversations where, you know, someone pressed the button, and they owned their own their problem. And it was also a joke, press the button. So you know, journeys to drive us to resolve, which I which is almost crossing, or trying to blur the line between being blamed and be accountable for it. And I think there's a level of Did someone do it on purpose maliciously, or did they do cuando se, by accident, but they did it without realize the ramifications of what they did. Now, it's a huge thing. The other thing that you mentioned the sort of six week, one week off, which I want to get back to the guys who wrote what's called base camp, they're the same approach, which was you basically plan your week you plan your work and six week efforts, and you broke those spreads, then you'd have a break and all the rest of it, which is kind of what you get with with Google as well as the one day a week, which is, again, it's aligned to your objectives. You can't go and Boulder. And, you know, part of that makes no sense. But you can work on that do you think is a good idea? So it's a great thing, if you can get the culture, right.
Unknown Speaker 48:20
Yeah, it's a difficult model to put in place where you have Ops, and then delivery, because delivery is great, you plan your work, then you have that we call when it comes to Ops, how do you do that you can all take the same week off, if you don't plan your work, you have no idea what's around the corner. So that's something that we're still working on is what is an appropriate model. For those who are in optionals. Because we work in a DevOps, we use the same people that, that drive the change to then maintain and support whatever the systems are. And that's why we need to build this 50% capacity in our change, planning. But then to get the balance between the two. So we will end up with two models, one where you can have the one because after every six weeks, and the other will be where people take one day off a week, and that's how we will have these two models and they will coexist. And and that's just the way that it has to be as long as it's equitable. And that is the that's something that I have a big advocate for is, is I can't have 50% of the team having a week off every six weeks and then the rest of the staff just having to work every single day and not having the same having access to the same innovation time. So it has to be equitable for everybody.
Ryan Purvis 49:46
So what do you do when you have a priority issue or priority item has to be both announced that that person will their teams week off what happens in the big firefight next time. semiconductor orthopedic surgery, this is top priority.
Unknown Speaker 50:05
So we everybody acknowledges that any major incident is the priority. Yeah, if there is something, we're very good at planning and being able to predict what's coming. But we do a low capacity in case of the things that you can see. We don't create things that we then provide to others, we procure things. So it would not be often that we would, we would not be able to foresee us having to create a thing, that that the organization demanded a really good example of or that you have just mentioned. And this fits this is we are building our is closed, we have a museum, the intention is that we're going to be reopening the museum sometime next year, we are also opening the building up for staff to be able to comment that they need to be able to be called desks. So we're trying to change the way in which people can have access to their space in the building. And we make it secure. So what we did was we ruled out a very rudimentary, hot desking system, which was incredibly manual, but it was functional, we then went off and a statement was said somewhere at very high level in the organization that there was going to be a brand new hot desk booking tool, and it was going to be in place by the end of November. But I forgot about it, I said not nearly certainly, we're not going to have it in by the end of November, because we have governance, we need to make sure that we are securing this in the right way, and so on and so forth. And so that's going to hold us back. So we said we'd have in by the 18th of December, the team then went off, worked 100 miles an hour, to, to sample to procure to get it through legal to get contracts in place. And then to design to try to build it and bring all the people together that needed to be involved in it. So the team that I work with, laid on the supplying this solution, but it was our facilities and workplace team who were the key stakeholders, because they're the ones that provide the environment, the staff have to come into work. And so it was a great team effort, we all pull together, it is going to be live tomorrow, the 18th of December. So by the time Musk was I realized that they likely to pass is going live in timescales that we agreed. And people have had a firebreak for this. But everybody, but we saw this coming and we lined people up and we said you are going to have to work on this. This is an exception. It's not as if it came out, you know, class people in fire fire rate, we discovered we had to do it by the end of the end of the week. So we saw it coming. And we just negotiated with them beforehand. We also implemented a change fees early on in December this year. So last year, we didn't do change fees at all. And we decided we were going to just deal with things as they came up and continue to have our Lake touch cab this year, when he said that to me, I thought no, I want everyone to have a beak. So I appreciate it back to the team. And I said we're gonna have a think about whether you can actually have a property increase this year, and do it earlier. And let's just give everyone a break. So eventually the organized themselves and they figured out the best time to do it. And when they're going to do until so we did it, we started to change fees about a week ago, knowing full well that we've got to go live with this product because we got a change result. And so there's all of those things had to be factored in. I'm surprised separated the team that had been able to peel this off, and they have been able to launch a minimum lovable product so viable. It's a minimum lovable product. And then we can just grow it and develop it. And that that will it's really important point in the future of welcome. Because actually, by being able to book a desk in this way, it defines the way in which we will use the space and the building into the future and enables the facilities team and workplace team to figure out well, how are we going to use this building in the future? If we need to change it? How do we change it. But this tool is a tool that we would like to be here to stay. And it's the start of defining how we are going to use this building going forward. You heard it here first.
Ryan Purvis 54:22
That's a great story. Because that is the one problem with an expectation when someone goes and says set an expectation of how quickly or within the organization, you got to manage that expectation back sometimes that can be quite a daunting task ending on your own who said it and
Unknown Speaker 54:44
I had to say to my boss, no chance. I'm telling you, I'm telling you No, this was really the beginning of November. I'm telling you No, we're not going to meet the end of November. And so you know, manage that in any way that you want to but we are not going to be able to achieve that for you. By this day, so you know a lot of that it's about just being bold and having courage to say no.
Ryan Purvis 55:06
Yeah, yeah. I remember being in a situation where my boss's boss's boss, we worked with him before and had his reputation and worked with him again. And his question was you tell me when I'll get done by? And my boss said, Oh, well, he says he wants it done in two weeks. He said, You tell me, when are we done by? And yeah, you need resources. But you know, like he was. So we had to go back in there, which was, I mean, fortunately known him well enough. And reread request reconfirmed with him what he said, he said, No, I said, you tell me when you have done by and you tell me what you need, then when you tell me it's gonna be done by the 18th of December, it will be done while at the same. You know, that kind of thing. And it's fascinating how sometimes you can get these people hear what they want to hear, and actually hear what was being said, as we can't commit to that sort of, you know, just craziness. Actually craziness. Yeah, there's
Unknown Speaker 56:10
this. There's this, I stumbled upon this whole thing about listening. And it's a guy called David Stromboli, I think his name is. So there's a podcast that I used to listen to called coaching for leaders. And this guy happened to have an essay two years, this guy had the disorder space, he had this guy on who was talking about listening, and you can go into his website, you can actually assess your listening style, there's four styles of listening, and one is where you are not actually listening, what you're doing is hearing what they're saying. And then figuring out how you're going to solve a problem. The other one is where you get distracted, and you kind of lose track of the story. I can't remember the other two, but you can assess yourself and your style of listening. And then it gives you a whole bunch of tips and techniques. In order to fix your style of listening, I can send you the link afterwards. But you fix your style of listening. And he does a 90 day challenge. And every day every week, you get a new challenge in order to adjust your style of listening. At the end of the 90 days, the theory is you'll be a much more wholesome listener. But what you'll probably find is when you reassess yourself, you've become a different kind of listener. You might have moved into from the from the one who fixes problems to the person who wanders off and gets bored when someone's telling a story. But I'll send you over you can have a look. It's really interesting.
Ryan Purvis 57:39
I found 14 styles. People are intended action orientated, content orientated and time orientated.
Unknown Speaker 57:46
Unknown Speaker 57:49
He explained it. And
Unknown Speaker 57:52
yeah, it gave me It couldn't be if I put in all of our struggle. I think his name is Oliver. Science. talion. Doesn't it's all her strong. I'm giggling and I sorry, everyone. Yes. All of her strongly. And Stromboli listening. I'm sure if I don't spell it right on it. I'll figure out what I'm actually trying to see. To find after find it and send it to you so that you can share afterwards. Yeah, that's
Ryan Purvis 58:29
it very interesting is that I think is one of the most important skills that people under appreciate having the ability to listen and have the right kind of this thing at the right time. And I'll be honest, I'm one of those that can be distracted sometimes. All I'm listening for I've already was criticized once for in a positive way that I'll hear something, I'll concede what the solution is. And then I'll basically tune out until I get it till everyone else gets the same point. Oh, which which, I think it could be an insult at the same time as being a compliment. Because sometimes you become biased. And because you don't really care what the other solutions are. Because you've already you've already conceived what the solution is. So that's been one of the things I've worked on, personally for a long time is just to always write down what I think it is, and then ignore that piece and focus on just listening and listening and listening to try and hear what the other dots are to join them all together.
Unknown Speaker 59:30
Yeah, you know, you're you're absolutely right. And you've just described I mean, if that's your preferred listening style, and you've just described the one where you've already come up with the answer. You are letting the person finish you the car, the car, and then you're going to just tell them the answer. The interesting thing is you you speak at something like 125 words a minute or 225 words a minute, but you listen at 400 words a minute and so You're all ready, your brain could just work so much quicker than the words that your ears are hearing. So that's why you can be distracted. You can multitask, you can come up with answers, and you just really waiting for the person to finish. So then you can see what it is that you want to say. But yeah, the 90 day deep listening challenge is what this guy talks about. And I'm just in a quick search for it. So I will share it with you. deep listening. If you am sure he Google deep listening, then you might find it. I realized this is not helping anybody because anybody who's trying to find it. Five different ways to check out.
Ryan Purvis 1:00:42
peacekeeper leader the driver and the manager. Listening skills. Right? cosmic the cosmic cosmetic listening, convert conversation listening, active listening and deep listening. Oh, I
Unknown Speaker 1:00:59
don't even know if it's that assumed. I was so familiar. I'll send you the link. I mean, but the point is that everything that you're finding is all relevant to deep listening. And the fact you listen to for under words, you speak it 100 something. So, Ryan, thank you so much for having me today.
Ryan Purvis 1:01:20
That was great. Again, yeah, it was fantastic. was good to chat. We should do more often.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:26
I agree. Yeah. Maybe we can get the BCS to set up some podcasts and you can you can be a host on that. Or you can be a guest on that. Yeah. Thank you so much. Ryan goes over Christmas and New Year. Hope your son starts to adjust.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:46
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, you too.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:51
Thank you, and I look forward to speaking to you soon.
Unknown Speaker 1:01:53
Eileen Jennings-Brown 1:01:54
Take care. Thank you.
Ryan Purvis 1:01:57
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Head of Technology @ Wellcome Trust; CW’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech 2020; Mentor; Tech Advocate; Speaker; Champio
Eileen is a well known figure in the top technology echelons across the UK and Europe as a tech advocate, speaker, and champion for inclusivity and equality in STEM. Eileen has also recently been named in the CW’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech 2020
Eileen started life as an IT support analyst in 1997 and has progressed her career working for businesses across the UK and Europe in a range of different IT roles. She has worked in the IT industry for over 23 years holding senior leadership roles for the past 11 years.
She set up her first IT Consultancy business in 2014 and her second in 2017. She is currently the Head of Technology at Wellcome Trust based in London.