Rachel Murphy - Diary of a CEO: days 80-120more
In doing so many podcasts I have got proper lazy with writing; hence the delay in getting this chunk of the diary out of the door! I’ve really had to force myself to take time out and put this together. Typically once I started typing it flew off the page!
So, what’s gone well:
I’m delighted, during the last 40 days, to see another member of the Difrent crew pick up the public speaking mantle and start to share their expertise. Jo ran a session for the British Franchise Association on how to grow a brand and shared her recipe for success! The session landed really well, a little too well as there was a follow up asking whether Jo was perm for us or fancied doing some work with the BFA!
We have successfully appointed a couple of new directors into the business which, for me personally, is just cracking news! I’ve been running without a delivery director since May of this year and, of course, every day I’ve done that work I wasn’t CEO-ing, so I am delighted to share that we have Zoe Gould joining us from 28th Oct 2019! We also internally promoted one of our Delivery Leads, Daniel Leakey, to lead our business change function and take a suite of products and services out to market!. I’m delighted we have managed to promote from within for such a crucial role.
Difrent have picked up a new client in Police ICT who we will kick off a series of Wardley mapping sessions with us from Oct of this year; starting initially with Sussex police force. We will be pulling another seasoned mapper in, Dinis Cruz, to help us out and we are currently developing a product to ingest these maps at scale to aid large organisations with their plans for transformation.
Our summer retreat (which feels like a distant memory now) was such a great craic! All staff (perm and interim were invited), their partners and families. It was all a bit hippie as we were camping out at a mud obstacle race venue called Wild Forest in deepest Essex! It really was an awesome team builder with a big BBQ and drinks; needless to say, there were a few sore heads the following morning! Ultimately, it was great to see people, phones down, talking and really getting to know each other.
Since the day I joined Difrent I haven’t had my head turned by another company until I met Alan Lowe, the CEO of Visionable and had a look at the health platform they have created for Secondary Care. Over the last few weeks, I have been doing work with Visionable to explore how Difrent can support them and their health clients with business change services. We have been mapping some use cases for their existing platform and starting to shape up a service offering around a National Stroke Service. I am hoping to share a more formal announcement about our work with Visonable this side of Christmas.
In a personal share, I have FINALLY started some work with my business coach. I have been trying to find time in the diary to kick this off for nearly 6 months (the irony!). I’ve chosen a hugely well respected senior player in the Health space, somebody I look up to and somebody I know will be able to handle me and challenge me in the areas I need to work on. Day 1 I came away feeling like I’d had a therapy session on roids! She probably felt she needed to book in for some therapy herself!!
I’ve also added to my learning in kicking off some podcasting with friends, clients, colleagues and social media contacts focused initially around business change. My motivation around this was to learn a new skill myself in way of leading some podcasts; I had an initial panic that I didn’t listen enough and it would all fall apart in session one! Thankfully that hasn’t happened! I’m hoping to tap into some user research from within Difrent at the end of the first 12 interviews and share some insights around business change that span sectors and geographical locations. Watch this space!
I’m also touched to be invited by BMW as a guest speaker to their Diversity group to talk to their workforce in November about being a gay and out female CEO; sharing insights about how my sexuality has been received in the workplace. Again, I will share slides!
In the interests of never trying to sell the CEO role too strongly; I’m also keen to share what hasn’t gone quite as well in the last 40 days!
What hasn't gone well:
We haven’t been as successful as we had hoped to be with a couple of bids we have put in for work across central government, health and local government. Bit of a hattrick and not the right kind! Whilst disappointing for us all it’s good for us to retro through these and understand why we haven’t been successful and how we can improve in the future. As somebody who is always looking for the positives in any situation, we did receive some lovely feedback from one prospect who took the time to email me personally to say that despite the fact we weren’t successful he was blown away by how much my team were brought into the Difrent culture and how well that came across as part of our presentation!
I’ve had eye surgery (twice) over this period which has been a success but has slowed me down (hence why it appears in this section for me!) I had to take two full weeks out of the office post-surgery and it was a slower return than I hoped to both the office and the gym. I shared a separate blog saying just how humbling (and terrifying it had been); my eyesight dropped to 30% and 35% within a 6 month period. The cataracts were aggressive and I didn’t trust myself driving or crossing the road in the run-up to the diagnosis!
I absolutely haven’t been focused on the right stuff over this last period, likely due to being a couple of directors and a sales manager down but I’ve done much more COO than CEO work in the last 40 days; I’ve been more inwardly focused, fixing things and defo more into the weeds, handling BAU escalations and contract management. I can do it but it’s not the best use of me. It has, however, allowed us a period of eating our own dog food in re-shaping our strategic governance and being clear across the business on how our internal RACI (or ARCI as we prefer to call it) operates!!
My personal time management has also been shocking; with an addictive personality I have to be careful with work, that I don’t let it consume me; it certainly has over the last few weeks; I’ve had lots of 17 hour days and needing to cancel things at the weekend just to catch up on sleep. My work/life balance is out of kilter and is something I have spoken to my coach about and will be our first area for focus.
So, where will I focus my time in the next 40 days
• We’ll have new directors in yippee! So, I will spend a chunk of time making sure they are properly onboarded and clear on their objectives and priorities
• The sales function moves strategically back to our Founder, Steve Dhillon (so I won’t be focusing on that with the exception of a few strategic partnerships with Red Badger, MadeTech and Visionable)
• I will be much more externally facing. I have 5 public speaking events on the run-up to Xmas so that will help with that!!!
• Overseeing the design of business change services and products we will be taking to market during Q1 of 2020
- Situational Awareness (coaching and product to ingest Wardley maps at scale)
- Data Maturity Assessment
- Smart Portfolio
• Working with our new clients, Revolut, Police ICT, and Mulesoft. Incredibly excited about these projects!
Finally, we are on the hunt for new business salespeople; drop me a line if you have experience of selling outcomes in the healthcare/public sector arena. Come be part of our #techforgood movement!