#Monthnotes

The backstory

In 2017 I wrote weeknotes on and off for a period, reflecting on my week. I found it a too much to keep up regularly and stopped after five months. I did a much shorter version on twitter for a while, but whilst they were much quicker to write, they didn’t hold the same value for me .

2020 was (*understatement alert*) an unusual year and at the end of it, I decided to do a personal retrospective on the year, something I’d never done before, to try and get a sense of perspective. …


Lessons from ‘Empowered’ by Marty Cagan and Chris Jones (SVPG)

After nearly 10 years in leadership roles in technology departments/organisations, I have recently moved in to our product organisation at Elsevier.

I joined Elsevier 3 years ago and almost immediately read Marty Cagan’s book Inspired, and went on an excellent two-day training course with his partner from SVPG(the Silicon Valley Product Group) Chris Jones. Ever since, I’ve been a big fan of SVPG and an advocate for what they say about product management and how to make great products.

Their new book Empowered is about “product leadership” and is aimed at “product leaders and aspiring product leaders, especially the leaders…


Practical ways to foster an inclusive environment

At Elsevier, we place strategic importance on having inclusive, engaged and agile teams. Therefore we value having an inclusive environment for our teams to operate in where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, has equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.

An inclusive culture enables a high-performing and engaged set of employees, where people feel valued and can bring their whole selves to work. A culture of inclusion increases diversity while also improving innovation and team / business performance.

Leaders have a key role to play in fostering an inclusive environment. Whether we…


Memories from reading ‘In Search of Lost Time’ in lockdown

I started reading Proust around Eastertime last year. England was in its first lockdown, I was no longer travelling for work, no longer going out or meeting up with friends and had more time than ever on my hands.

You need a lot of time to read In Search of Lost Time: it’s the world’s longest novel (according to The Guinness Book of World Records) with 9,609,000 characters (including spaces), 1.5 million words, more than 400 characters, over 3600 pages, published in 6 volumes (or 7 depending on your edition). …


I’ve never written an end of year review before, but I decided to do a personal retrospective of 2020 when I saw Pat Kua’s template (HT David Heath for sharing it). The idea particularly appealed to me this year because my last four months have been dominated by having a TIA (a ‘mini-stroke’) and then a stroke, and I was finding it hard to see past that. …


Remembering the magic

This post was sparked by watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk, ‘My stroke of insight’, and an hour later listening to music during an acupuncture session.

Our brain’s right hemisphere

In her talk, Jill Bolte Taylor describes how the two hemispheres of our brains function differently. Our analytical left hemisphere thinks in language; processes sequentially and methodically; divides, categorises and organises information; separates out details and associates things in the present with our past and projects into the future; and sees ourself as a single, separate individual. In contrast,

Our right hemisphere is all about ‘right here, right now’, our right hemisphere thinks in…


A personal story about rediscovering my left arm and hand

Some background

Eight weeks ago (24 September) I had a stroke.

I’m really lucky:

  • many people have worse strokes than I did (I kept my cognitive abilities and understanding of language, I didn’t have any memory loss, I don’t have any vision problems, I can walk, I’ve not had not any pain, my speech was only slightly impaired; the key impact for me was that I was paralysed in my left arm — and I’m right handed), and
  • I’m making a good recovery (probably helped by being relatively young, I’m 44).

People say that no two strokes are the same. I would…


A personal story about sleep, trying things, and emotional complexity

Eight weeks ago (24 September) I had a stroke. Like me, most people who have a stroke survive. As Tom Balchin explains, “stroke is far more disabling than it is lethal.” The possible outcomes from a stroke vary enormously. In The Successful stroke survivor, Tom explains that in the developed world:

  • 15% of people who have a stroke die shortly after
  • 10% require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • 40% experience moderate to severe impairments requiring special care
  • 15% recover with minor impairments
  • 10% recover almost completely

In my previous blogpost, which I published two weeks…


A personal story

Make things open, it makes them better,” I said.

It’s good to show vulnerability,” I said.

And it feels like it’s probably time for me to put these words into action myself…

A couple of weeks ago I had a stroke. I can find telling people a bit exhausting, and in the first few days afterwards I found it very hard to talk about what had happened to me. I was raw, very emotional and quick to tears. …


A build-measure-learn approach, focused on teams

Why psychological safety is important

At Elsevier, we place strategic importance on having inclusive, engaged and agile teams. Therefore we need an inclusive environment for our teams to operate in where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, has equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.

For someone to contribute fully, they need to feel psychologically safe. Psychological safety is:

“A belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” Professor Amy Edmondson

In teams with a high level of psychological safety, there is a culture of inclusion. …

Richard McLean

Senior Director @ElsevierConnect doing product strategy implementation & performance. Mainly writing about getting from A to B, & digital stuff. Personal acc’t.

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