COVID testing. Dido to step down. Boris to step up

The news for Dido is not good. This article focuses on her deep connections with the Government, as the only reason for her selection. And the court of public opinion would indicate she has been as much use as wet paper bag for holding very large rocks.

I reflected on my most recent business experience; starting an Offshore Wind contracting company called CWind. At one time, in the top 100 fastest growing companies of the UK, the success is totally down to the fact that I started it with mates and grew through relations or friends of the early “Band of Brothers”

All these friends were met through sailing my 1908 Essex Fishing Smack. “Harriet Blanche”.

Rebuilt without an engine she represents a class of sailing vessel as different from the modern plastic Yacht as a JCB is from a Ford Focus. Gaff Rigged, the solid wooden spars will kill you if not handled right. Flailing ropes on the foredeck will take your eye out in an unguarded moment. Try and fend off as you come alongside and you will lose an arm if you are not on the ball. With a 12 inch bulwark acting as a Trip Hazard and no safety lines rigged, Man Overboard is a real risk. In Winter with no PPE you will have minutes to get picked up before you succumb to Hypothermia. Brightlingsea Church is lined with Portugese tiles in memory of the hundreds of local men who lost their lives on these craft. A yearly Health and Safety summary of how brutal life used to be

In other words the ideal training ground for a company that has to drive a boat out to a Wind Turbine stuck in a sandbank. Come alongside and then jump onto the ladder, climb and use the built in crane to lift stuff. The key final question to each other, before we would approve a new “Brother” was: “Would you have them on the foredeck of your Smack”

If anyone said No, they did not get to join

I can still remember the expression of the Head of HSE of the Danish Client when we turned up to start the contract and lift a 3 tonne generator onto our first boat. “Lift Plan?” “Hard hat, Safety glasses, High Viz, Safety Boots”? he asked. It was the Client, so we were not rude, but we all thought. WTF? If we had to do a lift plan for our 250kg Gaff we would not go sailing. We borrowed some of their gear and cracked on. And moved up a steep learning curve.


Harriet Blanche moored with CWind vessel

Lessons learned?: Employing friends meant they all went the extra mile for their mates. As we expanded, their mates would do the same for them. Which meant they worked harder and they never left us in the lurch (Called High Staff Turnover).

By employing the right people (Experience and Qualifications) our HSE record was one of the best in the business. Zero Lost Time Incidents (A day off due to an accident). Which meant we got other contracts

And we made a fortune. In the space of three years, from a standing start, we had brought some £30 Million into the local economy and the profits funded the continued growth.

So on every Key Performance Indicator… employing your mates, when facing a massive opportunity/problem… is the only sensible option.

So back to the Testing debacle.

“Action this day” means normal recruitment processes have to be binned. As we have seen employing a mate is the only option. The key question to ask is: What is expected of the mate tasked with solving this problem.
That requires the Politicians to frame the objective. The three most important things to deal with COVID 19 is Test, Test and Test. (IMHO)

I would suggest this as the “Command Intent”

  • A test process available locally via existing trusted providers (i.e the GP surgery) which can be carried out and reported within 30 minutes.
  • IT system that matches demand based on publicly agreed priorities, with available supply. That connects with existing trusted data sources (i.e the existing NHS app)
  • That is scalable such that it can be iterated to a system that it can test every UK citizen.
  • That sets tough targets to make this happen, but uses “Open Source”, Network techniques to engage as many of the Citizens to help own this problem

Who should head this up? I cannot think of a more important job. … Dido needs to step down and let Boris prove himself worthy of the trust placed in him

Version 1 of this post

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Version 1 18th September 2020

Covid testing. Jobs for the Jockeys comes up short

Dido Harding. Board member of the Jockey Club was put in charge of COVID testing by Matt Hancock (whose Constituency happens to be Newmarket)

How has that been working out?

Not well, according to the trending Twitter #WhereisDidoHarding and this article from Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail

‘She’s a cross between the Scarlet Pimpernel and Macavity the cat who was never around when there was trouble,’ said one exasperated Whitehall source. ‘The test and trace system is imploding yet there is silence from the Baroness.’

Some personal experience would indicate the news reports are only going to get worse.

A teacher needed to get a COVID test. Checking the local drive in testing centre showed no availability. Stuck in a traffic jam random post codes were entered into the Online form that Matt/Dido is responsible for until availability was discovered 200 miles away. The Teacher then took the resulting QR code and went to the local test centre , was tested and within 24 hours received a negative result.

6 months on from this tweet

They (NHS) are abandoning the basic principles for dealing with an epidemic, which are to test whenever possible, trace contacts and contain. Almost all individual physicians I know feel that what they are doing is wrong.”

Nothing has improved. If members of the Government were Directors of a Company, showing this cavalier disregard for the Health and Safety of those they are responsible for…they would be fined and jailed.

Lions led by Donkeys.