A letter to our Secondary school children – our contract with you

As a family – We are a team.

As parents we want you to be the best you can be.

We want you to have every opportunity and take those opportunities that are true to yoursslf – i.e. the ones you want to.

Because we live in London the sky is the limit – you can do anything.

We will earn enough money for you to have and do anything you want – but here’s the tough bit – if you can do anything – be anything – what will you be?

To have all this we need space and thinking time to balance our lives and make money.it can’t all be hard work for us. We can’t be happy if it is.

It’s your responsibility not to waste our time and mental energy with things you can do yourself. It’s your job to not make this time waste – but if you do – to clear it up..

What’s standing in the way of maximum happiness for the family is stress caused by not enough time. Not enough time to think, not enough time to talk. Not enough time to have fun.

So don’t contribute to that stress.

As parents we will:

Try to stay healthy and live as long as we can.

Try to be happy.

Have our own lives together and on our own

We will provide the best environment we can for you:

  • Freedom and trust.
  • Love and respect
  • Interest in you
  • A sounding board for problem solvingmoney
  • decent food
  • have a decent clean house you can bring your friends home to.
  • Cool clean clothes.
  • Any lessons or clubs you want – unlimited.
  • Any transport you need 24/7 – you and up to 3 friends.
  • The best medical care we can get for you

We won’t both do all of these. We are not interchangeable. Mum will provide more of the money, transport, clean clothes. Dad will provide more of the interest and food.

As children you need to:

  • Have your own lives – together with the family and increasingly – with others and on your own
  • Get prepared to be independent
  • Show self respect and care about yourself
  • Be healthy
  • Take advantage of opportunities you are interested in
  • Treat each other and us with respect
  • Try to be as kind to family members as you are to your friends
  • Take responsibility for your things – don’t lose or ruin them
  • Make sure you have a decent clean house and room for visitors
  • Don’t make work or waste mum and Dads time with clearing up after you or asking them to find things you have lost
  • Don’t drive us mad
  • Don’t be freeloaders

Our home is also mum’s work environment and no-one can concentrate if they have to work in a rubbish tip.

No devices – 8-8.30 morning.

Anyone has the right to 15 minutes uninterrupted talking to another family member every day if they want to. Book it in.

This family will only work if we are all take responsibility for being happy

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A window into the tech future – and it’s female – who knew? 

( not finished just saved) 

For the last 6 months I have been seeking out the real technology trendsetters – the ones who think technology is just a tool for problem solving. Who think in the age of AI and robots – people should be more like people and less like robots – in order to stay relevant. 

Yesterday I found them. Not centre stage Where does innovation start? but in an unassuming half day conference just hehind London Bridge. 

The amazing Dan Peatfield brought all the best thinkers – and more to the point – do-ers together. 

Incredible insights: 

The amazing .. ex Lawyer ( apparently 60% want to exit the profession) now running AI  company … with 21 staff.  They have no HR, people can work ehatever hours they like. She has her personal manifesto instead – if you like it – work here. If it makes you uncomfortable – don’t.
Xxx  who is desperately Seeking mOre cybesecurity  talent – and guess what? I recent recruitments – Women get paid £23k (nearly £100k) more than men in cybersecurity because of their wholistic / nuanced understanding of the subject – not just a siloed technical perspective. 

What about Zara Farrar eho has brought women and men   yogether yo jean in and support each other pkus set new standards for behaviours inntechnology – from Mandatory diverse Recruitment osnels , To male  speakers i stead suggesting their female collaugues.,

Very simple but making a huge difference inngovernment technology. 
Gillian Howsrd – Rottweilker lawyer supporting the new suffragettes – women taking city firms to court fir discrimination. For their efforts they are informalky blacklisyed from working again in the city. But with 7 figure comprnsation payments – and nsming and dhaking on this open data: at keadt thrre are at kast some consequences for this sort of behaviour . 

I was very privekedged to be one of the chairs of the events ( thanks Dan for the opportunity) 
We 

This is where it is all happening – the creativity of young women and mums from all walks of life unencumbered by establidhment rules and beurocracy.  With youth and their children as inspiration. 

But it was Sue Black who started this movement 5 years ago – a nobody really noticed. 
If you need to name one woman tech role model. For me – Sue tops the list. 

M

Saving Bletchley Park Review

This is how women fix problems 10 x faster and get the most fun out of it 

I’ve just finished reading Sue’s book. Its amazing how women like Sue can solve massive problems by dint of her sheer decency and curiosity. 

Persisting for years -doing the right thing – and being genuinely interested in people from all walks of life and all ages. What does she get back? She seems to bring the best out in people, and because of her humility, they want to help.

This book restores my faith in human nature and busts the myth that the most money you can raise from crowdfunding is £30k. 

Forget Prince project management, Agile, governance boards, bureaucracy, conferences. This is how women fix problems 10 x faster and get the most fun out of it – parties, non-sequential super connecting and helping others whenever they can. 

For me, this is the future change methodology. 

How to live

6 things to remind yourself of (works for everyone)

  1. However hard they try nobody can be like me. I am the sum total of all my experiences and I can only change that by having new experiences. At any moment in time I am as perfect as I can be. I make my best contribution being me.
  2. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. All experiences once processed are good experiences (we are all living proof). We are here to experience the world and make it better for everyone.
  3. If something is important to me I’ll bring all my forces to bear. Tackle it from every angle. Consider every approach. Leave no stone unturned. Stick with it. Push the boundaries. Campaign for it. No regrets. No doh moments. If it doesn’t work its not me its just the wrong time. The only thing I can’t do anything about is bad timing. Change for the better is not always linear.
  4. If it’s not important to me I don’t do it or make it routine – I don’t waste time on it. That includes people who refuse to listen or understand.
  5. Until I know what else is important to me I’ll try everything and follow my interests. My top priority is always helping people.
  6. Love, connections and ideas are the things that if I give them away I’ll end up having more. They’re not zero sum equations.

Is it Ethical to use data for profiling  people? 

We all do it all the time – At what stage can it become unethical?
I find when starting to look at ethics and technology that the best thing to do is to think of a real world example. Work that through and see how you feel about it – then you know whether the technical idea is ethical or not and what mitigations or controls you need to put in place to ensure that it is.
So here is an example close to home that a friend explained to me. My friend was brought up in the same area of London as Stephen Lawrence, is black and the same age as Stephen Lawrence was.
Police in the area haven’t always behaved totally respectfully or fairly towards young black men in Eltham.
So I want to look at the Ethics around the controversial practice of stop and search – something which has happened to my friend twice in his life with different outcomes. Stop and search has in the past been one of the factors triggering riots. The cost to society of getting this right can be significant.

Step one
So here’s what happens. A street crime is committed and the Victim report to the perpetrator perpetrator is a young black man.
Here is the data field we are interested in – no IOT required to measure this – just a pair of eyes to decide if someone is black.
So a call goes out on the police radios to ask all police in the vicinity to stop and search young black men and question them about the crime.
Check – is this OK so far? Yes it is. It’s factual and reasonable, one obvious note to make here is that the same call could not have gone out if the man had been white because the police would not have had the capacity to stop and search every white man.

Step 2
A policeman approaches my friend (young black man) and stops and searches him. On the first occasion this happened to my friend the policeman was rude and humiliating and he came away feeling very angry and unco-operative towards the police in the future.
But on the second time it happened to him the policeman was sensitive enough to explain the situation fully – almost apologetic – but nevertheless thorough – so the end result experience was fine. My friend felt it was totally reasonable that he should’ve been approached and was happy to help.
The only thing different was the intervention and how it was conducted – sensitively or not – consensually or not.
That is what makes it ethical or not.

Human rights for parents

Sunday night homework panic for the boy.

Not arguing this time that its clearly my responsibility. 

We all know that he only does maths homework and the rest is up to us. 

This time its a photograph competition for human rights. The teachers know we are a liberal family so we get lesbian and gay rights. ‘Have you got any ideas?’ we ask the boy – ‘why would I?’ Back to the Xbox for another 5 hours in the flow. ‘By the way – make it good – I want to win’.

Father makes an executive decision (as always)  13 year old girl and friend will pose as lesbians on an LGBT march. He’s artistically challenged but cracks on with the banner regardless.

All done but 13 years olds rebel and refuse point blank to pose – even with bribery and begging.

Son finally comes up with something: ‘why don’t we do child abuse instead and you pretend to hit me with a belt?’ (Tempting).

Time is running out. Should I email the street and ask if one of the neighbours will pose as a lesbian with me? But how to word it? Don’t want another camping incident. 

Whatsapp Sharon. She says put ‘Woman  urgently needed for lesbian role play. Children involved’. Can I trust her after last time though? 

Have a moment of inspiration. Maybe if I find those blond hair extensions I used for my OBE friend’s TOWIE party, and a lampstand that would work? 

Job done! 

Watch this space to see if he wins.

How to use LinkedIn to shake up your Groupthink

One way of using LinkedIn is to connect up with people on LinkedIn that you already know in your ‘real world’ life – your ‘club’. At the same time as desperately seeking to link with ‘influential’ people higher up the food  chain.
That way you can be sure that everything you read has been pre-filtered by like minded people, and you are not likely to need to discriminate between the LinkedIn equivalent of fake news as opposed to the trusted sources or uour highly esteemed club.

of your club. You only hear what you want to hear. 

Instead of thinking of your network being there for you to exploit, think of it as a way to give other people new career breaks and support.

The best new ideas and insights do notcome  from the establishment but outside.

Link to people who aren’t like you. From other countries, different genders, ages, ethnicities. Offer up your links and your networks to people you met in the park, or dog walking. 

For example, how many men can say that 50% of their linked in network is women? Why not? I often check when looking at conference speakers or companies todo business with, how diverse their network is on LinkedIn.

It’s the virtual equivalent of going to a part and instead of talking to just your best mates, talk to the person in the room whi is the least like you. I guarantee you will learn something. 

Tools for matching and linking people data

Can you help? Those of you that know me will be aware that my technical specialism is master data management.

At Camden Council, and more recently Nesta, I have had lots of requests to explain how Camden went about implementing its Residents Index.

This is the silo-busting demographic indexing solution which enables service improvement, counter fraud savings and early intervention.

It’s my view that all councils would benefit from such a tool. I’m looking at ways of trying to make the technology and methodology for implementing such a solution quick, simple, cheap and rapidly deployable across local government. 

In the next month I’m putting together a how-to guide which will cover:

  • The business case and return on investment 
  • How to engage with information owners, and data analysts to get the data
  • The information sharing and privacy issues
  • The data structure
  • The specification and selection of tools
  • The in-house skills needed
  • The evaluation process

I would be so grateful if you can also help me by telling me what tools you are using.

I am looking for tools that are: 

  • Probabilistic matching technologies that automate data matching of demographic / people information between multiple line of business systems to produce an index.
  • This is not about CRM systems with case data.


  • In- built role based security configuration tools, and restrictions on different data views


  • Have an in-built user interface for front line staff.


  • Intuitive  – minimal internal expertise / staff support costs / training 


  • Preferably open source


  • I’ll include other proprietary tools but if so I need ball park whole contract costs per average Local Authority in bands: e.g. 0-£25k, £25k-£150k, £150k-£300k, £300k+. 
  • Linking people data across systems in real time or at least in overnight batches.

The solutions need to available on premise or securely in the cloud.  If they are in the cloud – the supplier would need to be willing to take security liability for personal data.

Whilst I will consider approaches from salespeople I am really interested in suggestions from colleagues across any sector that have used the tools in practice. 

I’m also looking for people to review the draft ‘how to’ sections so that it can be as relevant, practical and useful as possible.

I want you to be able to fill in the templates, present it to your Chief Executive, then crack on and implement it in 3 months as we did in Camden.

Smart people and quick learners   are everywhere – we just need to give them a voice / break

Here in Ochos Rios – met  Omar in the hotel. He is great at Maths and mechanics. His parents could not afford to give him a complete education. He can fix any problem with a car or with the hotel ‘system’.

He said: they don’t learn – these sun umbrellas blow away and are damaged in the wind so they have to buy new ones every year. Instead they should build more fixed thatched ones. If they just asked the staff responsible for putting the umbrellas out the staff would tell them the solution in 2 minutes. 

We are lucky: he is going to join the British Navy – they are model employers – they take responsibility for finding talented people from all backgrounds and completing their education. 

All employers could take a leaf out of their book. You get creativity – commitment – wily – unconventional approaches. Which you need in the Navy and every other industry to make a difference (and have fun at work).

Getting fast results in Bureaucratic Hierarchies – the personal touch

The first job I had in local government was as a housing officer. 

One of the very tough problems we had to deal with from time to time was helping people suffering from domestic violence. One particularly beautiful young woman had suffered brain injuries from the battering (better word I think) she had recieved from her drug addict partner over the years. This was happening (and probably still is) in a small council block in Bloomsbury. 

So he had tracked her and her 3 yearold daughter   down and she had come to me needing yet another move – but she utterly dreaded the idea of bed and breakfast or a refuge. 

The council had the concept of an emergency move – but how to make that happen in reality?

First fill out the paperwork and input the data – correctly coded – on the system. Note: it may feel to many that this respresents  ‘job done’ – a good day’s work – but remember – what you are trying to do is get the family an emergency move to safety.

In these circumstances would you put the required paperwork and evidence in the internal mail? This was the latter day equivalent of  email – easily lost or overlooked. 


I found what worked was having a relationship with the person making the lettings allocations. Not her boss or a committee. 
Taking the paperwork direct to the her, appealing to her better nature.
Checking  the lists  of vacant flats together for somewhere meeting the client’s needs, getting the boss to sign it off then going to the distant housing office, picking up the keys checking it out then aranging the move next day while she stayed overnight at a friend’s.

This sounds time consuming but much more cost effective than the costs of months in B&B and more humane for her and her child more to the point.

In my experience (20+ years)  direct action and building relationships is the only way to get successful outcomes quickly in bureaucratic  hierarchies. 

Every piece if work is a campaign.

Procedures have nothing to do with it – but only by knowing them inside out – working round them with every ounce of creativity and energy can you get a result. Gaming. 

Now that those cumbersome procedures have been hard coded into one size fits all scripted workflows it is getting harder and harder to give people a nuanced personalised  service. Especially in Council supporting people services and health. It is really hard to show you care.