A fairly busy week: finishing up the commercial modelling I wrote about last week; catching up with a startup founder and talking about publishing contracts; the final meeting of my tenure on the Stationers’ Company Corporate Members Group; talking to potential speakers for an event I’m organising (also for the Stationers’ Company); talking to a potential client about something which didn’t work out in the short-term but might come back in a different form; a short notice project doing some work on a Wordpress website I first built about a quarter of a lifetime ago, a quick dash into London for a couple of meetings (and then a slower return home, thanks to South Western Railway, which does not seem to have improved since I stopped commuting daily); and a catch-up with the Xigxag team.

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In between those commitments I spent quite a lot of the week working on the second written deliverable for my DBA, a 3,500-word outline of my proposed research, which is due to be submitted next week. It’s been an interesting experience working on it. I had assumed that the experience of doing an MBA would translate well to a DBA given that both required a balancing of priorities. What I now realise is how heavily scaffolded the MBA experience was: with a class every 3-4 days and multiple projects on the go, it was never far from my mind and just became part of day-to-day prioritisation and firefighting. Truthfully much of it got done thanks to eleventh-hour sprints. On the other hand, contact time in the DBA is limited and in the times between scheduled sessions, one is just left to get on with it (though the supervisory team have kept in touch via emails and WhatsApp). In that context there’s a real danger of it slipping down the priority list and then ending up—as I did this week—needing a significant commitment of time to catch up. It’s clear to me that I will have to be much more disciplined about my time.

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When I last wrote about the DBA, I described it as stepping out of my comfort zone. On a much smaller scale, I’ve been doing a new online course designed by Alison Jones called WriteBrained, which uses creative writing techniques as a thinking tool for business, delivered through daily, six-minute exercises. One of the topics has been metaphors—how we use them and the effect they have on our thinking. It has made me reconsider a phrase I use a lot: what if, instead of stepping out of a comfort zone, it is phrased as extending your comfort zone? I find the connotations of learning and growth, even if not easy, much more palatable than a journey into discomfort.

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My current reading and listening pile: