Weeknotes s/1 w/7 w/e 10 July 2020

Hello there.

We held our governance committee meeting this week, which was a productive meeting. We covered a lot of ground, and there was lots of positive feedback although I was pretty tired afterwards as I was presenting too many reports in one sitting, (which is sometimes the way it falls — couldn’t be avoided). It was higher energy than normal though, which I think is the function of where it fell in the Board cycle. Previously we had been holding them before Board meetings, as in pre-lockdown days this saved a trip for busy Board Members, who were travelling across South Wales. This one was standalone, and it benefited from having sufficient air time in its own right. And the commuting problem isn’t there any more. I wonder what other ways there are to think creatively about structuring things more efficiently in the future.

I have found it rather hard to exercise this week, and I don’t know if it is connected to struggling to fit in “firebreaks” into the working day (bearing in mind I am trying to fit in a spot of homeschooling and school dinners at the same time). I’m going to give having a standing desk arrangement a go next week and see if that helps. And I’ve promised myself a good long walk after I have finished this blog!

I did very much enjoy our session on wellbeing with @andrewcanna in Valleys to Coast this week, it was not that long but perfectly formed. Very much valued. He describes himself as a workaholic survivor on his blog — great phrase and one to which I can relate! I think my training as a Chartered Accountant twenty years ago was brilliant at unleashing the inner workaholic (although I think its a bit more enlightened now). It's a pernicious thing which has crept into society and the way we work — FOMO (which I think is worse in working remotely), endless emails, pointless meetings, endless competition not collaboration, meaningless KPIs. Lender covenants. The list goes on. Governance, compliance, approvals, checklists can feed it if you are not careful. I’m struggling to conceive of a working world without it. It’s definitely something which needs further exploration.

Cut Through the Noise — @cannaconsulting — a scruffy but authentic photo!

Speaking of work, the job losses in Wales are rolling in this week (Ineos, Celtic Manor, in the media in Wales*), which is sobering, and I really hope not a portent of things to come. We in housing talk about being anchor institutions in the foundational economy. But there is so much more to it than that. I think its also the case that the effect will be uneven across parts of the economy (retail and hospitality, for example, being particularly affected) we need to be doing more in preparing for what’s to come.

Also had my Board meeting with @TaiPawb (the welsh housing equality and diversity charity) this week, and as ever it was lovely to reconnect in with everyone. With 1 in 10 charities predicted not to survive Covid-19** its incredibly important that charities continue to have the best possible governance. Charities face incredible challenges to their funding, running charity shops or charitable events for example, and at the same time demand for services in many cases will increase. And I daresay we will miss them when they are gone — I think their impact on society as a force for good and a force of economic regeneration is hugely underestimated. Fortunately, Tai Pawb is in robust health, but it will need to change the ways it works in the future in subtle and overt mechanisms. I’m hopeful though that virtual working will present new opportunities for inclusion and engagement. For example, as a pan-Wales charity based in Cardiff, it needs to ensure it has a reach into North Wales — remote working gives us opportunities to address any geographical inequalities of service more effectively than before.

We also talked about whether #BLM will subside and society moves onto other things (like sadly, the institutional racism coming from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry***, as one Board Member rightly reminded us) or whether its something that marks a sustained change. I do hope it’s the latter of course, and I guess it’s up to Tai Pawb, and more importantly, us, to make sure it’s not forgotten.

* https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-53336035

** https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/coronavirus-leaves-one-in-10-uk-charities-facing-bankruptcy-this-year

*** https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/feb/22/institutional-racism-britain-stephen-lawrence-inquiry-20-years