This week I started my Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) at Bristol Business School, part of the University of the West of England. It felt like a strange way to start a degree, not so much because everything was done over Teams but because of starting midway through an academic year which I’ve never done before: the feeling of September in April was a little disorienting.

This is going to be a part-time project for the next four to five years (all being well, ending somewhere between weeks 224-276 in weeknote terms… 🤓) One of the elements of the DBA is reflecting on one’s development over the course of the research, so I am hoping that keeping up the habit of recording progress here will make this easier.

The first week comprised induction and introductory material, readings from the course textbooks and a couple of case studies, several sessions with other doctoral researchers at different stages of their academic careers (really helpful) and cohort discussions with the director of studies and academic staff for the first block.

I had certainly begun the programme with a clear idea of my research topic: the best metaphor I can give for this week is that my research plan interacted with the workshops in the same way that a dropped Lego model interacts with the floor. I found the first day really daunting. By the end of the day on Tuesday, I was sitting in front of a pile of loose bricks, but by Friday I had the beginnings of a plan to build something slightly different and more structurally sound from the same elements. I’m now working to a deadline of 17 June to produce the first formal written elements: a 1,500 word summary of my research, and a longer 3,500 word piece justifying the relevance of the topic and setting out how I propose to address it.


It was a lighter week for client work as most of my time was spent on the above, but did a normal week for Xigxag and made progress on a pitch for a piece of new business. Next week is back to more normal client work, including getting on a train for the first time this year and heading into London for an essential meeting.


This week Hugh Garry from Storythings published a piece that I had written earlier in the month for his excellent Formats Unpacked newsletter, looking at the enduring appeal of the 2x2 matrix to strategists, consultants and MBAs.


Currently reading: A Memory Called Empire (which I am loving but at the rate I am reading, it may take months), A Guide to Professional Doctorates in Business & Management, The Foundations of Social Research.