Giles Letheren

The Delt Family

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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

Winning…

Winning

I’m not a winner, I never have been.

I’ll be 50 in a few months and as far back as I can remember I haven’t won anything of significance. I didn’t win in any sports at school, didn’t do especially well academically, and certainly in what is so often a deeply competitive adult world I always find myself coming somewhere between second and last. I’ve come second in several job interviews, in one case actually getting the job when the preferred candidate said no.

For a while this lack of winning bothered me but some introspection identified two main reasons behind my lifelong habit of being the best loser.

  1. I don’t have a psychological need to win. I’m often surrounded by very competitive people who can get really frustrated if they don’t win. I’ve never really cared that much. I’m much more interested in taking part than in winning.
  2. I’m actually not very good at anything. For a brief time in my 20’s I could escape from handcuffs faster than anyone else in the world but other than that brief moment of pointless excellence I’ve learnt that my real skill is being moderately competent at lots of things. It’s not really a super-power to be proud of but it is quite useful when presented with something that needs doing.

That I’ve just won a Director of the Year award from the Institute of Directors is all the more surprising. Except of course, that it’s not an award for me, any more than an Oscar for Best Film is an award for just one person. It’s a reflection of the work of many, many people. Director of the Year is an award for all the people of Delt. The real credit goes to our founders, our clients, our board members and our staff.

There is nothing more satisfying than being able to help people do amazing things. That’s even better than winning, though in all honesty, having now tried it, I do prefer it to coming last.

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Tunison – Chief Information Security Officer

Kevin Tunison – Chief Information Security Officer

Kevin Tunison is Delt’s Chief Information Security Officer with responsibility for the company’s risk management, IT security, data security, physical security, and numerous compliance initiatives.

Prior to his appointment as CISO in December 2018, Kevin was Head of Applications and was responsible for an operating portfolio in excess of £1m. In addition, he was responsible for developing and embedding an Agile methodology as well as automation. During this time, he also represented Delt as Interim Head of IT with Rowcroft Hospice.

Throughout his 10-year career with Delt, Kevin has served in a number of leadership roles. He was Team Leader for the Applications Service, Represented Delt on Council Election Boards, and has unofficially been the catalyst behind a number of social events including  after work learning groups, boat cruises, running club, and bowling events.  When he is not busy being a father and fixing his children’s IT gadgets, his time is usually well spent running, playing guitar, reading, and camping.

A certified data protection officer, Kevin holds a Master’s Certificate in Professional Development from Plymouth Marjon University. He currently serves as a private mentor for aspiring IT professionals on LinkedIn.

Delt Hardware!

Delt Awarded A Patent
1st April 2019

In line with the Delt vision of Helping People Do Amazing Things I am very proud to be able to announce the award of our first patent. We recognised almost 2 years ago that we needed to move beyond the provision of services into the design of hardware. This patent is the result of that effort.

In a spirit of driving innovation a skunkworks team was formed, pulling together the very best people in our company. We debated the setting of stretch objectives and, taking a bold leadership position, I determined that we would set something new and out of the box. Something we called ‘over-stretch objectives’.

The vision was simple. To design and build a laptop computer that was:

  • Extremely low cost
  • Incredibly low power consumption
  • 100% recyclable
  • Lighter than any comparable device
  • Significantly reduced support complexity
  • Not just a foldable screen (yes, we thought of that first) but a foldable keyboard too

Not content with just the hardware, we needed new software too. Open Source has been done before so we stepped up to the plate with a vision of Open Box Software.

It’s been a long and difficult journey, not without its challenges. None of the first designs were eco enough for Nick F. Steve Jobs would have been proud of the incredible speech Kev B gave around poor boot performance that sent us, heads hung in shame, back to the drawing (board), yet again.

But after all this work, this morning marks a new direction for Delt. We now Help People Build Amazing Products.

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer

NHS South West Central CSU

NHS South West Central CSU

Based in the south of England, SCW’s team of 1,300 skilled professionals provide expert support for over 80 NHS and non-NHS customers – nationally, regionally and locally; making a difference for 14 million people across an area of 15,600 square miles.  As a current delivery partner for 13 STPs SCW have been at the heart of emerging Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and the increasing adoption of population health management approaches.

More Girl Geeks!

More Girl Geeks!
Thoughts on International Women’s Day

I’ve had the dubious honour of working on a long term basis for, at the last count, 14 different employers in several very different industries. It’s about evenly split between the public and private sector and the US and UK. I’ve worked for two people called Giles, the 9400th most popular boys name. What are the odds? Better apparently than the odds of working for a female boss, because there is only one of those. That’s not right.

I’ve always wanted to work somewhere where your role was determined by what you did and how you did it, not who you are or who you know. Delt is that place.

The last time I posted on social media on international women’s day I was criticised for saying we needed more girl geeks. At the risk of doubling down I’m going to say that again. We want, we need and we’ll keep looking for more girl geeks. Our work experience cohort this year sees 12 students coming to sample life in the workplace but only 1 application came from a young lady. We want more brilliant woman at all levels of our organisation, especially in STEM roles.

We’ve just advertised for two new non-executive directors to join our board. This time, half the field of very capable applicants are not men. That’s brilliant. Watch this space to see who we appoint but I’d put money on not regretting writing this blog.

 

Photo Credit: Pete Johnson

Giles Letheren – Chief Executive Officer

From The Public Sector to a Shared Service in 12 months

From The Public Sector to a Shared Service in 12 months

The Public Sector is something that appears in 1.3 billion google search results. In the UK, it appears on a headline every day in newspapers and well groomed people in brightly lit studios talk about it on TV; it is ubiquitous, permeating, influential, silent, governing, a Nanny State, inefficient, a vanguard, responsible, sometimes a Parent, vital, an example, progressive. It is many things to many people but one thing it has always been and always will be (we must protect it with our lives by the way) is evolving. To attempt to define it though would be a Gordian knot. I was (and still am) employed in the public sector and have been for most of my adult life. My Father and my Grandfathers have worked within the Public Sector. My partner works within the Public Sector and my children have and are being taught by it. Some of my dearest friends work for the Public Sector and many more have sadly left. It has been a massive influence upon my professional life and has taught me more about being me than any school or university ever did. As a human, I also use and pay for the Public Sector. You can’t escape its embrace (who would really want to!) but sometimes, it isn’t like being hugged by a big furry bear, it’s like being hugged by that suspicious Aunty you don’t trust and see once a year at Christmas. Working for the Public Sector can be cruel and thankless and really quite upsetting. On January 1st 2018, I managed a very small service area of Plymouth City Council, a Unitary Authority consisting of around 2,500 people serving upwards of who knows how many members of the public (or service users, clients, customers or whatever the current buzzword is); we were there to help and make the lives of people better. What other business does that? It was tiring but the fact we were there to help people in some way kept me turning up every day for 18 years.

I managed the Print Room on January 1st 2018 and during that transition from 2017 to 2018, a concept of transferring my service area to a Shared Service was being floated around. Someone somewhere mentioned Carillion. The suggestion made me recoil and almost hours after this was publicised, the front page of the Financial Times laughed out loud at the suggestion and someone’s trousers metaphorically fell around their ankles. Inevitably, that particular flotation sank to the bottom of the sea of Capitalism and Carillion went bust (boo hoo) and the idea was flushed (you get where that analogy is going don’t you?).

Along came DELT Shared Services. The IT people who were once situated on Floor 2 of the Civic Centre had become a Shared Service four years before and everyone at Plymouth City Council who had a business centre or a function they could sell were envious of what DELT had become in those short four years. It was put to me, in a hushed tone in a quiet corner, that we were in the frame to join with DELT. I think the Senior Managers at Plymouth City Council were bored of hearing from me in the end; I was like Bob Geldof during that Live Aid interview where he pounded the table and shouted “Send us your f**king money NOW!” – we wrote the business case and it made sense (it wrote itself) as I’d been leading a viable service area for the past three years and there was an upward curve and my blood, sweat and tears (cliché alert) were bearing fruit so it felt natural to release us and allow us to become something better; we needed to become free and DELT looked a good proposition. I think most of the Senior Management Team sighed with relief when they heard that the sand in their swimming trunks would soon be gone. It was a better option than Carillion who’d left behind them a wake of half built hospital wings and a huge debt the Government would have to fill. Austerity coupled with public money being poured into private ventures with shareholders to pay is about as toxic a mix as you could imagine. It looks like Interserve are heading for the same slippery slope. When will they learn?

We transferred on the 12th September. Three months isn’t a long gestation period unless you are a Wombat (you can make three Wombats in three months according to Wikipedia – one a month! Imagine having a free Wombat every month). We’ve been reborn in three months and Shared Services are an interesting concept but I feel that DELT Shared Services is the right concept and it is one of the good ones.

Capacity in my area is key and the aim is to create capacity simultaneously alongside increasing production. It is all about growth and with growth, creating economies of scale. The concept is simple; the more you make, the cheaper it becomes but you need to be making more in less time so you can make even more with the time you have created. DELT’s slogan/concept/jingle is Faster, Better, Cheaper. I like FASTER and I like BETTER but CHEAPER made me feel uncomfortable as I am, at heart, an artisan.

I can present an ill informed, anecdotal account of what I think are the differences between 100% pure Public Sector and Shared Services (ultimately, in the case of DELT, I think they’re the same thing) but I’d be wrong. I can only speak of the positives it has brought me personally.

In the three months I’ve been a part of DELT I’ve had the following things happen that were non-existent in the last 8 of the previous 18 years I have worked for the Public Sector.

  • Genuine praise and encouragement from senior managers. I think there is a fear of praising anyone in the Public Sector who you manage as you never know, you might be having to make them redundant within months when the Chancellor comes knocking on the door like a malignant debt collector. Genuine praise is something that money can’t buy. It’s better than a bonus or a pay rise. Pay rises are very nice though as they help you buy more Nintendo games.
  • Investment. We’ve just signed a 5 year contract and the equipment we have now (newly installed) are the best machines we have ever had by an absolutely massive margin. In my industry, if you don’t invest, you die. It isn’t that different to any other industry but the Public Sector mantra since 2010 has been MORE FOR LESS. You can’t conceivably create more with less in the manufacturing industry as LESS is anathema you can make much MORE with a little bit EXTRA and Shared Services can achieve that.
  • Trust and transparency. People suddenly trust me to provide a service. The Public Sector is an incredibly scared environment to work in. You feel that you are under scrutiny at all times and a sense of paranoia is everywhere but nobody seems to take the time to actually explain what they expect you to do – as long as the budget looks OK, you’ll be safer than an Orange Cream Quality Street on Boxing Day. In addition, if you are over-achieving and it becomes noticeable, people above you get twitchy; “What is he after?!” In a good Shared Services environment (one I currently reside in), that is encouraged. If you aren’t trying to outdo yourself or your peers or your manager, you might as well stay in bed. I have always held the ethos that you must mould your team to succeed you and I feel that a good Shared Services setting can allow that to happen.
  • Happiness. This is personal. I am a far happier human today than I was 12 months ago. I loved my job 12 months ago and loved what I did. I enjoyed the end product of my efforts and always have. What I really didn’t enjoy was where I worked. Public Sector organisations like a Council are led by politicians and that flows through the entire structure. Politics, office politics, inter-Departmental politics. A Shared Service doesn’t have that problem and it is a relief to be out of the smoke and breathing the clean air of working as a cohesive hive. I enjoy going to work and enjoy waking up on a week day. I am a better person now than I was 12 months ago. I am less negative and less angry and I haven’t hit a table like Bob Geldof since September 12th.

If you have got to the end, thanks for reading. I’m off to play Street Fighter 5 with my daughter now. I’ve not spell checked this or proof read it either as another thing I’ve found is that I no longer worry about being perfect.

Photo Credit: RyanCR

Aaron Hartley – Print Supervisor