A Gray Day – can we Sue?

What SMART change to the control environment is being made?

I am sure we have all read the report. It does not take long. Once the blame game subsides, what has changed or will change now? That is my question.

Whilst SMART objectives are a little cliché these days, they do still serve purpose when seeking visibility of behavioural change, and thereby regaining trust in systemic failure.

SMART move to avoid committed change…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Not that much of this report is intended to be anything more than presentation of facts. My concern here is that we have sixty pages that simply gift the tabloid tickertape and headlines a few more inches – but none of that will lead us anywhere meaningfully forward.

This report is a pretty disappointing an output by volume. By quality, the analysis and conclusions are so very weak and devoid on any tangible opportunity to act. And I see nothing coming to challenge that fact.

Painting over the cracks

In the end we are being offered a report that describes a clear dereliction of duty. The greater dereliction here is what is happening beyond this report. The failure to offer SMART actionable change should concern us all.

I present the key wording that foreshadows this coming apathy to change. In essence what this reads is “mistakes were made, but changes are afoot, and you just need to trust us not to do it again“.

All of these quotes are from pages 36 and 37 of the Sue Gray report.

Mistakes were made:

“…attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with the guidance…”

“…failures of leadership and judgement in No. 10 and the Cabinet Office…senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear the responsibility for this culture…”

“…lack of respect and poor treatment of security and clearing staff. This was unacceptable…”

unquantifiable actions taken, thus enabling leadership to once again escape:

“…fragmented and complicated leadership structures in No. 10. I am reassured to see that steps have since been taken to introduce more easily accessible means by which to raise concerns…embed a culture that welcomes…challenge and speaking up…”

“…changes to the organisation and management of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office with the aim of creating clearer lines of leadership and accountability…”

More time being gifted to avoid measurable improvement:

“…I am pleased progress is being made in addressing issues I have raised…”

“…since then guidance has been issued to all Government Departments…”

“…now these need the time and chance to bed in…”

visibility | behaviour | trust

If this is the direction of change, then we will be no closer to increasing visibility and addressing inadequate behaviours (as intent, belief, action). There can be no expectation of increased trust.

In any other context, this would not stand. Yet here, we all seem powerless to intervene. Let’s at least start with asking the better questions. What SMART change to the control environment is being made, to which you (PM) stand personally accountable for?

7 lessons from 2 years in isolation

What two years in lockdown has taught me

Life lessons from lockdown. Here are 7 lessons from two years indoors, expanded on below:

  1. take ownership of risk
  2. acknowledge your luck
  3. go with the flow
  4. acknowledge your relationships
  5. listen and learn
  6. set your boundaries
  7. start and end with respect

Two years ago, today

13th March 2020 was a Friday. The fear, and denial of a distant threat, had turned to a reality. SARS-Covid-19 had definitively arrived in London. I had already sought permission from my university course to either defer or be given means to complete my course remotely. This Friday 13th marked my last face to face meeting. A pass/fail assessed MSc presentation on Engineering Safety Management – a group exercise which I had unwittingly become the coordination point to conclude. My daily train trips to Farringdon had become notably more hazardous – to the point that walking the last mile or so from Blackfriars had already become normal. A walk that meant I could visit three pharmacies en-route and buy precious paracetamol, a daily need which was already in short-supply.

Living from home

Within days the whole country was locking doors. We speak of it now as “Working from home” but that is perhaps not quite equating to the same thing. The service industry was about to be starved of patrons, as life outside stopped. For the likes of me, indoors was now life. Work, rest, and play; becoming extended study, anti-socialising, and staycations.

Two years in, and perhaps a little more to go, I have a few observations to share. The remainder of this blog I therefore offer as lessons from living a lockdown life at home.

Lesson 1 : take ownership of risk

Life was already changing, but it was becoming increasingly clear that there was no contingency plan in high places. Hospitals were reporting high death-rates. Medical advice was contradictory. There was no clear guidance for those clinically vulnerable. If I were to come home with the virus, my wife (and the 21% of her lung capacity still working) would be quickly overwhelmed. We were not the average risk case. We could not live at the level of uncertainty now present. We needed to determine risk from our own perspective.

It was also obvious that even the average risk was late to be realised in high places. We had no confidence that we had institutions around us – government in particular – adapting or even reacting in a manner that was going to keep my wife safe. So the decision was made; we were staying home.

Luckily for us, we had been living with contingency plans set for some time.

Lesson 2 : 🍀 acknowledge your luck 🍀

Two years is a long-time to be away from the world. We are however more fortunate than many who have been in similar situation. We had less domestic or work related constraints to manage. Most people in the support groups for Pulmonary Fibrosis had a tougher time adjusting. Sadly, not all did. Economic or medical care demands exposed many to risk they could not manage. Others just boldly or foolhardily carried on – loud in their protest or denial but all suddenly stopping; followed by news of another death in the group.

We were lucky. Adversity had already found us. So too therefore had contingent planning already long been put into action. Life had dealt a crappy hand to a fine teacher and had forced her to give up work several years before. I had already made a career choice that enabled me to work from home. The home office was already built. The mortgage paid. Financial priorities reviewed, repurposed, dumbed down. Wanting less, needing less, earning less.

But I had also buried my own thoughts deeply, and they had already broken free. I was back at university revisiting life goals and needs. Dealing with mental illness, diagnosed the year before. Part of a reset already underway. For a multitude of reasons, we were already primed for dealing with change.

Lesson 3 : go with the flow

Going with flow is not quite as compromise-orientated as it first sounds. For any independent person, there is a stability problem if one just meanders and adapts to any and all demands put upon your time. My wife and I have a strong domestic platform: in our relationship; in our physical security, safety, and basic needs; and now also in our clarity of priorities. It is only by that stable base that I think we have been able to maintain a perspective of hope as daily challenges come and go. We can go with the flow. But only because we can also let some things flow by, or wash over us. Going with the flow has meant letting some options and aspirations go.

Lesson 4 : acknowledge your relationships

Love your network. Be part of the network you wish to know. With 21st Century technology to hand, networking is fundamentally how we each grow.

As a household this presents a moment to acknowledge many people:

  • Friends, family, and the kindness of strangers who have been at the other end of a phone. Places to chat, the occasional quiz or game of cards.
  • At the height of the pandemic local people making themselves available to fetch and carry medicines and sundries.
  • Long-standing relationships with supermarket chains, car dealerships, banks and credit card companies. All were vital sources of assistance and being looked upon favourably in our moments of need.
  • Prioritised, reliable, and understanding gas-heating engineers, white goods repairers, gardeners and tree surgeons.
  • A fleet of delivery services who have kept us going. A postal service that has regularly supplied me with books.
  • My business associates and client friends, university staff and fellow students, all making allowances for my situation.
  • Neighbours who have overlooked rickety fences, raggedy hedges, and occasional unkempt lawns.
  • The many medical staff at various hospitals who have enabled distance orientated treatment possible. A pharmacy who have delivered medicines to our door. Oxygen suppliers and breathing apparatus repairs as and when called. Plus my therapist, and GP both of whom have kept tabs on me too.
  • Long standing mentors and mentees, plus a few new relationships I’d categorise here. Old business contacts reaching out, offering support, or just revisiting online as a social outlet and checking we were okay.
  • The hundreds, many hundreds, of new connections, contacts, and sources of inspiration on platforms such as LinkedIn. A true lifeline connection to the outer world. A place of discourse, learning, and chat which eventually encouraged me to begin this blogsite. New connectivity in new places leading to new opportunities, invitations to join think-tanks, guest slots on podcasts, working groups, organisations and societies. Plus many moments to talk over zoom with amazing new people at leisure and at length.

So many kindnesses, from so many places.

This lesson in management is also a moment to appropriately acknowledge relationships at home. In many respects we are self-contained. Our relationship to each other is one of love and respect. We have built a home in that image. We habitually lunch at the table. Moments to regather from different corners of the home. We enjoy each other’s company, and our moments alone.

We rescued a cat a few months before I started university. Or maybe he helped rescue us. Like us, he is happy looking into rather than being in a garden that looks after itself, offering up wildlife at our windows. Each of those interacting relationships have helped pull us through.

Lesson 5 : listen and learn

Two years into a lockdown, and maybe just a few months to go. It’s been an enforced time of reflection and new learning. Communication in new ways. Cooperation in discourse, and collaboration in effort.

Listening and learning from the experiences of others and ourselves. Listening and learning from what is happening within ourselves, within our relationship, and within the home. Communication, or just checking-in.

For me that has also been part of deeper journey. Serendipity played a hand here, that I began to find ways to do this before this lockdown ensued. For me this is now meditation, contemplation, journaling, and occasional therapy. It is also this blog. Critically, it was also giving myself permission to reignite and feed a curiosity, a more open mind to see more, and hear more. Hearing the wisdom of others in many forms.

Lesson 6 : set your boundaries

Everyone will have different perspectives on working from home. How do we create the appropriate separation, if any? Not expecting people to be 24/7 at our beckoning or call.

My attitude is one of adaptability. To accept that there are times that other people’s need for work/life balance are going to impact my own. But I have also been prepared to retain boundaries that mean others respect my time too.

Thankful to my neighbour for tolerating blurred boundaries

I personally place a necessary lesser expectation upon others. Colleague, client, or collaborative partners. But I’m curious to know how this changes expectations of behaviour in ourselves. I work in different time zones, to deadlines or towards developmental ideas of my own, as well as remotely from people I interact with.

Lesson 7 : start and end with respect

There are no binary rules here. Home and work can co-exist. Being present and being honest with what that means becomes critical if it is to work long-term. This is simply relationship building and management by both sides, built around mutual respect. Both sides, therefore also meaning you.

My heartfelt thanks – so many have pulled us through!

700 days…

No big blog. Just a note for my diary.

1.918 years. 23 months. 100 weeks. 700 days. With my better half now recipient of a fourth attempt at vaccination, we can but hope we are not counting days of lockdown for much more.

Next milestone is 2 years. 13th March 2020-2022. Another season will be upon us, and a hope we can soon spring back into externally relevant action then.

No early release

No antibodies detected

My immuno-suppressed wife gets to stay home some more – as therefore do I. In summary, vaccination is not assurance of immunity. And casa Beardall remains a lockdown zone – day 642

We can confirm that COVID-19 specific Antibodies against SARS-COV-2 – WERE NOT DETECTED.
The sample linked to C-602 was recorded as being NEGATIVE.
REF: ************
A negative result means that no antibodies were detected which specifically bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (original variant)

Email we received today

The news we had hoped not to receive. But news we had prepared ourselves for. This was after a third full vaccination. One month ago. Note we can only test for antibodies (not T-Cells).

1 in 10 people are estimated to be have no positive response!!!

The Omicron world moves on. Boosters seem more important than ever. If you have any trust in science to be reported factually then you should read the disclaimer that was offered with our news. Because this is reporting normal response – meaning you.

Here are reasons we were offered for no positive antibody response (which I think need to be updated for third dose and booster)

  • It can occur if sampled too soon after a vaccine is given. (Sample no earlier than 2 weeks*, optimally >3 weeks sometimes longer).
  • If a response to a vaccine is very poor.
  • Only one vaccine was given, (NB An additional dose can significantly increase the outcome).
  • The recipient is over 65.
  • The patient is immunosuppressed.
  • The patient had an underlying medical condition.

The email goes on to advise that not everyone produces spike antibodies in response to a vaccine or infection. The key statement though, I highlight in quotations below:

We know from efficacy studies conducted by the companies that manufacture the vaccines, that the vaccine will not be successful for around 1 in 10 people who receive both doses of the vaccine. Immunosuppressed individuals are usually excluded from efficacy data, as well as other vulnerable groups.

Test lab email information

The email concludes with a suggesting to retest regularly to confirm status. Which seems sound business advice when charging per test.

v | b | t

Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Don’t get complacent.

I think these observations are obvious but it is easy enough to consider your environment and make your own assessment of risk.

visibility | b | t

Be aware. Vaccination is lower risk, not risk free.

v | behaviour | t

Be vigilant and cautious. You have control of your own space, but have in mind the rest. Be aware of the basics. Be aware of those less aware, less considerate, or belligerently defiant. Mask wearing is the easiest means to determine attitude.

v | b | trust

Be responsible for your own actions and safety. Use visibility and behaviour to warrant trust afforded everyone else.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Keep the clinically vulnerable safe

Old news? Not party to the facts?

vulnerable please note…vaccine protection is not assured

Given the impending UK lockdown return and interim announcements today, it can surely only be a matter of time before someone finally starts warning the most vulnerable not to assume they are protected by the vaccine.

{Here} I am again linking the detailed account of one tragedy from misplaced assumptions of protection.

I am also repeating below a post I initially put on LinkedIn in the summer. PLEASE heed these warnings, and make sure those potentially effected are taking appropriate mitigating measures.

These recommendations landed on HM Government’s doorstep yesterday morning.

Recommendations – meaning they reflect what is not yet in place – including no meaningful guidance to the health professionals we are being directed to…

Presented today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics. What I enclose below is part of the APPG letter, sent by Lord Mendelsohn to Nadine Dorries MP, as ministerial lead on vulnerable groups.

Your personal decision-making, and the decision-making being made on your behalf, should be cognisant of what this means in the here and now.

My LinkedIn post here

This is a matter of public record

All Party Parliamentary Group open letter to government (four months ago). Although their own website suggests little activity since.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

The omicron silver-lining?

Is nature turning our way?

Here is an excellent summary of current guess work regarding the soon to be globally dominant variant of SARS-Covid 19. This is Dr. John Campbell again, making good use of the scientific community to reflect on immediate knowns and unknowns. In summary

  • follow all guidelines of hygiene, ventilation, and masks
  • get vaccinated – and get your booster
  • expect high levels of infection anyway
  • hope the best guesses of the science community are correct – that higher transmissibility but milder symptoms overall mean immunity starts to look more manageable soon.

Watch the link I attached for the more technical and expert view.


A footnote

I am suddenly reminded of the War of Worlds ending. HG Wells, 1897. Plus The Matrix observation that suggests we humans behave more like a virus than we do other animals. If this virus wants to co-exist its going to have to find a way to keep us healthy – maybe omicron is that move. Seems a reasonable message from the planet to us too.

Did you know mega comes from omega, to mean large? In Ancient Greek, omega and omicron both sounded the same when spoken, but the letters O, o (omicron) and Ω, ω (omega) represented small and large, respectively (source here). Perhaps our earth crisis is our omega yet to face, once our omicron is resolved.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Take a pill and chill


Is this the end, for SARS-CoV-2?

If this pill is as effective as widely claimed, the potential for Covid19 to be confined to the history books may be close at hand. The speed of advancement of the medical science behind this progress is a marvel to behold. Even compared to vaccination this new weapon being dispatched to the front line is game changing. It destroys the virus from within its host. Destroyed to the core of it’s replicating genes.

A moment of hope that we can soon turn all attention back to the bigger challenges in hand. The next test more fundamental. But if this first is overcome, we must be living with hope of future breakthroughs more profound than even micro-biology at its best…

…we have advanced our understanding of both the behaviour and the control of viral threats. Next is reappraising the behaviours of us all, and what we need to turn new attentions toward. Next is regards our collective selves, the system of systems upon which we live, and the frameworks of our own forward-focused control.

  • BBC article here (reporter Jim Reed)
  • Dr. John Campbell here

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: