And when peace comes, remember it will be us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place

This was the penultimate sentence of the 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth’s radio address to children of the Commonwealth on the 13th October 1940.  Many of the children listening were, like the Badger’s father, evacuees living away from their home in challenging circumstances. Now Queen and celebrating her historic Platinum Jubilee, the Badger was reminded of the truth of these words while a spectator at the London Rugby Sevens at Twickenham last Sunday.

When the Princess spoke in 1940, radio was essentially the main technology in the vast majority of UK homes. Her words to children unexpectedly resonated with the Badger during an interval as the tournament progressed in the huge, noisy, atmospheric stadium. Why? Because for many spectators it was a family occasion with lots of children present, and everyone, young and old alike, had personal devices with them providing instant connectivity to the world beyond the stadium. Seeing nearly every child using smartphones and tablets to capture and share on-field action and off-field interactions with players was a huge reminder that technology has revolutionised the lives of children since 1940. Together with the harmony between spectators of different races, colours and creeds in the stadium, the tournament provided a very positive and happy experience for the children present. It must have made a lasting impression that will influence their shaping of the better and happier world of tomorrow!

On the train home afterwards, the Badger listened to a podcast about the future evolution of society. A group of teenagers, about the same age as the 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth in 1940, sat close by staring at their smartphones and chatting with each other without lifting their eyes from their devices. The chat exposed their interests and priorities, and their aspirations to be social media influencers, and it seemed at odds with the podcast discussion and content. This made the Badger wonder if the Princess’s ‘the children of the day will make the world a better and happier place’  is still true when it’s the voices of older generations that get most mainstream airtime today.

Of course, it’s still true. In fact, the words are even more true today because the internet, social media, and powerful personal computing devices have put instant communication, influence, and content in children’s hands in a manner that did not exist in 1940. Today children are using this capability to habitually influence the evolution of the society they want much more rapidly than was possible in the past. Technology has not undermined the Princess’s sentence; it has reinforced it.

The 14-year-old Princess became a Queen now celebrating a historic Platinum Jubilee. Well done, Your Majesty, and thank you for your true public service throughout an era of huge technological, social, national, and international change. Your words to children in 1940 are timeless. Let’s hope that today’s children strive to implement them with much vigour in the years to come.

Delivery is about people and teamwork…obviously!

As an 18-year old, some months before leaving home for University, the Badger broke a leg playing rugby. It put paid to playing, but it has never blunted the Badger’s passion for the game. These days the Badger’s very much a spectator, either in the stands at Twickenham or the Stoop, or when games are on television, and admiration for those that play at Premiership and International standard has never diminished. So, when England won against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final last weekend, the Badger was thrilled – to say the least!

In the afterglow, the Badger was struck by the parallels between England’s performance and his own learning from a career in the IT sector focused on ‘delivery’ and driving large project teams to succeed. The England camp had a plan and everyone – coaches to players – were fully aligned and believed in it. The plan wasn’t thrown out of the window when events on the field put it under strain. The England team played for each other, stayed focused, held their discipline when confronted by difficulty, and they were all hungry to be winners. If you can achieve the same dynamics in a team that is developing, integrating, testing and delivering software and IT systems for clients under tough contracts then the chance of success is high.

A Project Manager (PM) once told the Badger that leading IT intensive delivery was all about process, numbers, planning tools, measurement, and having a leader who is direct and intransigent. The PM had these attributes and claimed to be a good PM. The Badger, however, pointed out that the evidence was that the PM’s projects failed more often than succeeded, and drew the PM’s attention to the following quote by Sir Clive Woodward, Head Coach when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003:

‘Concentrate on measuring performance and winning will take care of itself’. That is a brilliant excuse for coming second’.

Not long afterwards the PM changed career.

In the Badger’s experience, the best delivery leaders know that teamwork rather than individuality is crucial for success. Michael Jordan has put it aptly:

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Delivery is about people and teamwork, and the latter needs more than just the skills and talents of individual people. It needs everyone to have a common motivation and mindset even though they are individuals with unique personalities.

So, if you aspire to be an IT delivery leader then firstly remember that success is not determined by you individually, it’s determined by the creation of an ‘us’ mentality in all the people involved. Secondly, put as much effort into the psychological development of your team as you do into plans, process, measurement and numbers. It will pay dividends. Embrace these two points and you will have awesome job satisfaction when success happens, just like the England team if they win the Rugby World Cup on Saturday!