Post 30 out of 30 for November’s blogathon. It’s an early one because I’ve got a busy day ahead. As always, I want to start this post by thanking you, my reader, for putting up with the daily bombardment this November. Your likes and comments are hugely appreciated and encouraging. I think I’ve enjoyed this year’s challenge more than any previous one. It’s seemed somehow easier to find inspiration consistently for things to write about. I know that I break all the blogging rules with the random nature of posts here, but it’s really interesting to me to see what topics catch the reader’s attention. Inevitably, and quite rightly, C. has once again (and has she has for 30 plus years) left me completely in the shade by being the focus of the most-read post this month. Whilst (of course) I loved writing that one (and the bruising has gone down remarkably quickly!), the post I actually enjoyed preparing the most was one of the least read. It’s hard for me to understand, but apparently the mix of Jose Mourinho, football, leadership and management are just not as interesting to other people as they are to me. Weird!
It has been good to get back to playing around with words and sentence structures through the discipline of Haiku, and it’s these posts that have generated some of the most feedback. The discipline of creating stories within a strictly defined 5-7-5 syllable structure appeals to my love of ordered creativity. There is a place for radical free-thinking that proposes new paradigms and challenges existing orders and forms; but most lasting change occurs through thousands of incremental ‘nudges’ against the boundaries of the way things are now. For me, Haiku is a useful discipline for codifying those nudges, and for stripping back thoughts and feelings to their essential core.
And then there are the posts from years ago that continue to get hits for no obvious reason, but which must be featuring in the algorithms that drive internet search engines. That can be the only reason why this one about a trip that Dan and I took to watch a football match in West Bromwich in December 2015 keeps popping up in the readership stats on a regular basis.
Anyway, as this post (and this National Blog Post Month 2019) draws to a close, it seems only fitting to finish with a Haiku. Thanks for reading. I’ll try not to leave it another year before posting again! (And you can see that as either a threat or a promise!!)
A blog post a day Finding something new to say Keeps boredom at bay
Today saw the first of our Strategic Planning meetings in work. Our planning process starts in September each year and usually concludes with the final sign off of a plan and budget for the following academic year in March or April. It’s generally a helpful process and at least requires us to think about where we need to focus our time and effort to ensure that we deliver excellent teaching and cutting edge research. There’s no doubt though, that strategic planning also draws very heavily on game theory (in its broadest sense), where (in our case) the Faculty seeks to anticipate the expectations of the University and respond in a way that addresses those expectations, whilst limiting to the fullest extent possible any impact on our freedom to do what we would really like to do. Thus we negotiate and agree to generate a surplus of income over expenditure that meets our commitments to contribute to the core costs on the institution, within an overall budget that also allows us to invest in new posts, initiatives or facilities at a Faculty level without needing to go cap in hand to the University. Similarly, we adapt and translate institutional priorities and objectives into action plans that address what’s important to us in a way that satisfies the wider goal.
Hundreds of thousands (and possibly even millions) of words have been devoted to learned tomes and treatises on what constitutes the ideal approach to strategic planning. In my experience though, it’s possible to distil the whole thing down into eighteen lines of Haiku. You read it here first!
Strategic planning : Work-based creative writing With limited plot
SMART objectives and Measurable KPIs Risk missing the point
Budget projections : Creating the illusion Of fiscal control
Detailed data sets Summarise past performance - Focus on what's been
Future projections : How do you rationalise A chaotic world?
When it's all over Plus ca change, plus c'est pareil : It was ever thus.
I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in London, doing as many touristy things as possible in the 24 hours or so that I was there. Some reflections in Haiku form and supporting photos comprise today’s contribution to the blog. The Haikus are organised broadly in chronological order of the weekend
Tube from Hillingdon Personal space invaded But no eye contact
Harrods at Christmas Conspicuous consumption: Rich people's grotto
Saturday 'Up West' Streets thronged with happy tourists Beggars plead for change
Whitehall late at night Ministries dark and silent Power powered off
The Abbey dazzles White stone's reflective glory Pure against the dark
Tower blocks rise high Modern monuments stand proud: St Paul's looks away
Sunday coffee stop Autumn sun dapples the park Squirrels hide acorns
Reflective drive home London's clamour slowly fades Was it all a dream?
I’ve tried to steer clear of blogging about politics so far this year. The general election campaign in the UK and the impeachment hearings in the US are dominating the news programmes, and both stories are incredibly depressing. Last Saturday’s Haiku verses seemed to go down well with the reader of this blog, so I’ve used the format to give some form to my thoughts on politics in the UK and US at the moment. I’ve left them as a series, although each is also capable of standing on their own. They’re a bit downbeat and defeatist, I’m afraid, but that’s kind of where my head is with all this at the moment.
Politics '19 On the altar of ego Truth is sacrificed
Liars parading Feeding prejudice and fear Stirring base motives
Immigrants are tarred Remainers labelled traitors Others all to blame
Votes can't fix this mess However you cast your vote Politicians win
Day 9 : Be creative today – cook, draw, write, paint, make or inspire.
I don’t really have a particularly artistic side. I can’t draw or paint to save my life, and C. is the person in our house with all of the creative talent. I do like playing around with words, though. It’s been a little while since I’ve exercised by Haiku muscles, so today’s challenge is the perfect excuse to put that right.
Poetry for pleisure Saturday writing : Strong start and solid middle Sadly a weak end.
Election fever Fed up already? When politicians lure you Just don't take debate.
Final score Composed and serene He was found slumped at his desk His last work unfin...
Blogging blues Woke up this morning No idea what to write Sat and stared a while
Hoped for some insight No inspiration dawning Scrabbling for clues
Page and mind a blank No words to ignite the fuse Classic blogging blues.