An uncharacteristic slow start to ‘The Greg’s’ day today, mainly due to the effects of the previous evening’s “re-fueling.” Mandotory reaction testing by Mission Control meant that I wasn’t cleared for dispatch until later that afternoon, but I soon headed across the river to Westminster to visit Joni Wormall at the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Some very impressive results following Joni’s involvement of line managers in shaping a piece of comms – 98% of staff felt their manager was informative, trustworthy and easy to understand.
Some good news. The steed has been fixed and collected, and so next week takes ‘The Greg’ up to Birmingham and Manchester on Monday, and finishing off in Edinburgh and Darlington on Tuesday. Although bribes will not be accepted, if a leather kilt is presented to me on arrival, ‘The Greg’ will have no other option but to oblige.
‘The Greg’ went to my local church this morning, otherwise known as the Motorbike Hire Centre of Wandsworth, to confess that my overly zealous riding may have been responsible for the blown gasket, and that I now needed temporary transport. Members of the public would generally be required to present both a driving licence and passport at this stage – a process that does not apply to ‘The Greg.’ A steely glare and slight nod of the head is sufficient proof to confirm my identity and seal the deal.
Moments later, I was astride a Honda CBF600, a far cry from my Kawasaki ZX6, but certainly better than that public transport sauna!
First stop of the day was Claire Yates at Betfair in Hammersmith, who managed to fit over 20 fantastic hints and tips into just 100 words – what were the odds of that! ‘The Claire’ is also a fellow biker, so we discussed the joys of powered-two-wheelers (PTWs, for those in the know) and the importance of wearing garish protection. So, when it came to taking the photo Claire insisted on rebranding ‘The Greg’ in full Betfair attire, with branded fleece jacket and scarf – perfect for the summer! They even gave me the scarf to keep as a reminder of my visit (I think it may have been a bribe to try to get their hands on the iPad…’The Greg’ does not do bribes).
‘The Greg’ and Claire
From Hammersmith, I headed down to Frimley to meet the delightful Catherine Rennie at Siemens. She has created a brilliantly innovative tool to support line managers’ engagement with their teams. I was lucky enough to be given a live demonstration and I have to say that even I was impressed, which is another fantastic achievement Catherine! From Frimley, I jumped onto the M3 and headed south to Eastleigh.
‘The Greg’ with Catherine
Ah…the M3, with your subtle curves, sparse traffic and well stocked service stations…how ‘The Greg’ adores you! I made good progress through the light traffic, though the lack of any fairing on the hire bike meant that I had to keep the speed below warp factor 3 (well, for the most part). The average speed camera’s also tried to impede my progress, but there’s nothing average about ‘The Greg’ so I assumed they didn’t apply to me.
In Eastleigh, I met up with Nicolette Cotterill from B&Q who told me about some exciting changes on the horizon and shared with me her case study about an online video blog on which leaders are able to share behaviours and ways of working. Another effective piece of work now added to this ever increasing document.
The Greg and Nicolette outside the shiny new B&Q office
From Eastleigh, ‘The Greg’ headed over to Fareham to visit Simon and Jodea at Zurich. Comedy gold from Jodea with some more examples of jargon, and Simon added a great middle managers engagement case study, which allowed the smooth transition to a new and potentially controversial process for office based teams. Another offer of a thinly veiled bribe was made, this time in the form of red strawberry laces. They matched the branding of the leathers, but I’m afraid that this finely tuned machine cannot run on pure sugar and E numbers, so I was forced to decline.
‘The Greg’ with Jodea and Simon
After Fareham, I headed to my final call of the day, to Siemens again, but a different office, this time in Poole. On arrival I was greeted by a 12′ high traffic information sign welcoming ‘The Greg’. As the lump in my throat subsided and a solitary tear froze against my cheek, I began to appreciate this fantastic way to greet someone who has been on the road all day. This was a seminal moment for ‘The Greg’ as I became overwhelmed by this feeling of gratitude for the first time, ever! It was very much appreciated, as was Lisa Gwinnell’s case study on accelerating change after a restructure.
‘The Greg’ with Lisa
To all my followers, heartfelt apologies for the delay in sending out this latest blog, but I appreciate all of your support. This is a rather softened ‘The Greg’, signing off…
After the disappointment of Monday evening (my poor trusty steed couldn’t keep up with the pace of the challenge!), I dropped the bike off at the garage and headed to the nearest tube station with a sense of trepidation. Fun doesn’t tend to feature on ‘The Greg’s’ daily agenda, and standing in a packed carriage in an all-in-one red leather race suit certainly isn’t going to change my mind very quickly.
Nevertheless, on my way to the first visit I put on a brave face (which really is no different from my normal face) and dug deep into my bag of banter. Just because ‘The Greg’ doesn’t have his chariot, our generous authors should not be made to suffer!
My first visit, to Kirsty Langley at Motability Operations, was brightened by the witty security guard who offered me an electric scooter to continue my journey. Needless to say, the offer was rapidly dismissed with a quick flash of my Oyster card. My day was then brightened further by Kirsty’s hilarious contribution of a jargoned conversation between ‘Neil’ and ‘Bob’. Fear not Kirsty, the “results cake” is in the oven!
A short bus ride took me to Bishopsgate to visit Adam Pledger at Lloyds, where I bumped into a good friend and previous INVOLVER – Sam Lizars – a delightful coincidence! After spending some time chatting with Adam about how they’ve effectively used their Leaders as a face-to-face comms channel there at Lloyds, ‘The Greg’ and The Tube were once again reunited.
I headed West towards Latimer Road where I met with Pamela Dease from TalkTalk, who added a hilarious case study about a rather unexpected icebreaker that her MD used!
From there ‘The Greg’ headed back across town to catch a train from Euston up to Milton Keynes. After being swiftly ejected from the train operators cab, as we pulled away from the station I couldn’t help but appreciate the raw power generated by this machine, although it felt strange not to be straddling the thing. ‘The Greg’ was demoted to ‘self-loading freight’ in the rear.
In MK, I first called in at Homebase to visit Ruth Martin, who’s case study takes the employee suggestion box to a whole other level!
Then onto Christina Clark at Virgin Active, where my red and white outfit fitted in perfectly with their branding. Christina felt that her example about Virgin’s anti-Corporate day was such a winner, that she was determined to keep the iPad for herself. This left ‘The Greg’ with no other option but to use both my jedi mind tricks and raw power to wrestle it from her “Active” grasp.
Inspired by the activeness of the Virgin brand, ‘The Greg’ felt compelled to consider a mode of transport often referred to as ‘The Foot’. As the confidence in my stride began to grow, so did my weariness, so Mission Control has arranged a replacement bike for the following day and I have now returned back to London to refuel, recharge my batteries and lube my drive chain.
As reported, ‘The Greg’s’ motorcycle has indeed blown a gasket, so today he’s on public transport!
He’s in London visiting Kirsty Langley @ Motability Partners, Adam Pledger @ Lloyds and Pamela Dease @ Talk Talk. Then it’s off to Milton Keynes to see Ruth Martin @ Homebase, & Christina Clark @ Virgin Active.
A cheeky start to the day, with three central London visits in quick succession. Riding a motorbike in London may be quicker through the traffic, but I can assure you that when it comes to finding a parking space, it’s just as painful as driving a car! This probably explains the extent of the public transport network, but ‘The Greg’ will not succumb to the comforts of double decker buses and air-conditioned black cabs.
The first stop of the day was with Tereza Urbankova at Amec and then straight down to Louise Walton at Barclays Wealth.
Timings slipped slightly after an altercation with a speed camera caused ‘The Greg’ to rethink his ‘speed, distance, time’ calculations, but after Katy Cash at Deutshe Bank (great name for someone who works in financial sector!), delayed her lunch break to see me, I was able to make it out of Town….well, almost!
First stop, after grabbing a quick bite to eat on the road (quite tricky for mere mortals when one hand does the throttle and one does clutch – rather simple for ‘The Greg’ however) was Staines, where Deborah at Centrica was kindly able to fit me in, despite having a day full of meetings! Great progress being made now – quite literally cooking on gas.
However, now the pressure was really on, two more stops (both near Reigate) to go, and it was already gone 3pm. Time to wind back the throttle…were it not for the M25 and its ‘make it up as they go along’ speed limits, but despite the heatwave ‘The Greg’ was keeping his cool.
Fortunately, I was able to make up this time once I came off the motorway and hit the country lanes. My advanced motorbike training and fearless approach were put into action and I ‘made progress’ towards my next stop (Erika Redding @ Pfizer), waving to the brave servicemen and women at Headley Court, as I passed. After meeting the lovely Erika it was back on the bike and time to turn and burn for one last time.
The final visit was to Stuart Lawton-Davies at Kimberly-Clark, just after 5pm, where Stuart showed me some very impressive results from his case study, as well as a very impressive reception wall!
A very successful day by all accounts, with one notable exception. My return journey to London was plagued by dodgy throttle response and a mis-firing engine. Once home, I stripped the bike down, first suspecting fueling issues, then air suction valve problems. In actual fact, I had blown a gasket!
So, as I write this, the search is on for a super-quick mechanic and an alternative means of transport, but fear not all contributing authors, ‘The Greg’ will not let that stand in his way. That extensive London public transport may come in handy after all! This is ‘The Greg,’ once again signing off….
Early start to check the bike was ready for a full-on week – petrol, oil, water, drive chain, electrics, rubber. Then, having established that the tank was empty & the tyres needed air, the first stop was the local BP!
Beautiful morning ride to Swindon, with the wind in my face and the sun on my back, to pick up the iPad from our first volunteer – Kate Shaw at Nationwide. Note to self, leathers are tight and lack serious ventilation in baking sun.
On the way back, I took the scenic route via Hungerford & Newbury, while waiting for Mission Control to hook me up with the next appointment. Soon enough, the message came through & I was on my way to central London to visit Samantha Children at QBE and Sarah Pellegrini at Rexam Plc, then back to the office for cocktails and debrief.
Day one complete, some excellent additions to the book, spirits are high. This is ‘The Greg,’ signing off….
Yes, he’s ready, revving and able. We’re just finalising all the details for ‘The Greg’s’ UK road trip so that he can start collecting all the fantastic employee engagement stories people are contributing to our book.
If you’ve signed up to get involved, expect a call from Mission Control (Eoin) very soon. In the meantime, watch this space…..