Giles Letheren

expect the unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

Five years ago, a betting man (at least one who was any good) would not have expected Delt to be here at it’s fifth Birthday. Yet on the 1st October 2019, here we are.

Most new businesses fail. 60% of them fail within the first three years. We are twice the size we were on day one and have delivered more financial, more operational and more social benefit than projected. That’s pretty unexpected.

Shared Services can deliver great results but landing one in that Goldilocks zone is tricky. Rather too many fail. A shared service that works? That’s certainly unexpected.

Cross sector partnerships. You’d think that different bits of the public sector would love working together but just like most things in life, you tend to stick with what you know and cross sector partnerships that work (and last) are rare. Yet here we are with the NHS and Local government still working hand in hand for the greater good. That’s unexpected.

Bipartisan initiatives seem nearly impossible (at the time I’m writing this anyway) yet we’ve had political stakeholders from both sides of the House and they’ve all been equally supportive. That’s unexpected.

I started my career, more than 30 years ago, in the public sector. The public sector is brilliant but can be a little frustrating when you want to get things done at pace. I then went to the private sector and reveled in getting things done quickly. The private sector is brilliant but doesn’t always seem to be doing the right thing for the right reasons. I tried both public and private sector on the other side of the Atlantic too. Same brilliance, same frustrations. If only there was a way you could take the mission and the values of the public sector, the absolute commitment to doing the right thing, the driver of working for the greater good and join that up with the pace, agility and fearlessness of the private sector. That would be something truly unexpected. That unexpected thing is Delt. Five years old today and full of enthusiasm for the road ahead. Where it will go nobody knows for sure but whatever happens, we should probably expect the unexpected.

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer

27% Life Remaining

From Green to Amber

On Saturday, at least according to statistical averages, I will have about 27% life remaining. The reality of course is that I’m unlikely to be average. I rather like cake and strongly dislike pointless exercise. Public health advice suggesting less cake and more exercise implies my life remaining will therefore be somewhat lower.

As my personal battery indicator changes from green to amber perhaps it is not unreasonable to take a moment to look back.

I don’t remember anything from 50 years ago, which is probably for the best. I do clearly recall 19 years later though, where I sat alone on Boston Common, pondering my first week in full time employment. The life plan was clear: Work hard for 30 years or so and then hopefully look forward to an early retirement. Well, 31 years have gone by quickly and ‘early’ retirement is at least another 20 years away. So much for planning.

At the time I am sure I had a definite idea about what I wanted to achieve, about what I was going to do with my life that would matter. Unsurprisingly, none of those things came to pass. In reality what has given me the most joy and left the most lasting (though ultimately fleeting) impact on the world are the things I didn’t intend or plan. My children will turn into good people I think. My love for my wife and her love for helping anything furry or fluffy has led to more than 50 rescue animals having a much improved life (and me having a much less tidy home).  My inadvertent actions have led to at least three marriages (and probably at least one divorce). I’ve had responsibility for the working lives of a decent number of people, many of whom have gone on to do truly exceptional things. That’s much more indirect than I expected my impact on the world to be. 31 years ago I had no idea that what would make me most proud was the unpredictable outcomes of the butterfly effect.

To that exact point I have a confession to make. More than 35 years ago I accidentally inspired somebody to make a choice of career direction. That ‘sliding doors’ moment set them on an unavoidable path with destiny. They could have gone on to create a miracle cure for some previously incurable disease.

But they didn’t,

They could have become an inspirational leader who created a much needed new kind of politics.

But they didn’t do that either.

They could even have played a critical role in the development of a type of quantum computer that somebody could actually explain the workings of.

But no.

Instead, they created Strictly Come Dancing. And for that world, I am truly sorry.

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer

The Delt Family

The Delt Family

Yesterday morning at a new staff induction I talked, hopefully with some passion, about how our objective of sustainable socio-economic development mattered not just to our staff but to a much wider community.

Later in the day saw our annual Delt Family Barbeque. We do family events all year but this one remains my favourite. Unusually we were gifted with torrential rain and threatened with gale force winds. In true best of British spirt this dampened only our clothes, not our spirit. Too dangerous for a bouncy castle outside? Put a bouncy ball pond in the workroom! Slippery handles make axe throwing towards the nursery high risk? Setup an indoor casino. Meeting room displays work with video games just as well as PowerPoint. Indoor Sumo wrestling in a crowded environment full of high value technology. What could possibly go wrong?

Loads of staff came. Many of them brought children. Some of them even brought their own children. I saw spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, fiance’s and in one case, an ex-wife. I saw parents, my own Dad embarrassingly turning up in shorts ‘because it’s the summer’. We had future members of staff show up, members of staff who had retired came too. There was at least one person who seemed to have no connection at all to Delt. They apparently came alone, enthusiastically played the games, ate the food, talked to everyone and then left alone.

If there was any downside to this year it was that nobody brought their dog, Normally the car park is full of assorted hounds, drooling at the smell of barbeque, stealing people’s sausages and eating unattended children. The dogs clearly had more sense than to venture out in the terrible weather. On the plus side, nobody had an excuse to poop under my desk.

Delt is much more than the people it employs and the services it provides. I love it.

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer