James Mead by James Mead

Week 227

This week we’re back up to full strength for the first time in a while. We welcomed Tom back from paternity leave and this has meant that for the first time we’ve been able to do some rotation on the FutureLearn project and spend a little more time at GFR HQ.

Client work

Those who’ve worked with us in the past will know that we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into client work. We aim to provide a ready-made team that is more than the sum of its parts and I know that our level of engagement is far higher than that provided by employees at consultancies where I’ve worked in the past.

This full-on, live-and-breath-the-project approach is something that I personally value and would not want to change, but it is important to recognise that it is in tension with trying to achieve some of our wider GFR goals.

It’s clear that we still haven’t yet worked out how to solve this particular conundrum, but I’m hopeful we can come up with some constructive ideas for how to improve the situation. We really do need to work out a way to find the time, space & energy to make progress on the longer-term GFR goals.


Something else I’ve been thinking about this week is how we’re not always very good at giving each other praise or thanking each other e.g. for doing something really well or doing something above and beyond the call of duty. I also think we’re not very good at celebrating our successes internally.

We’re all fairly critical thinkers and I think this sometimes means we unconsciously end up sounding negative about internal company issues. I’m certain this isn’t how we all genuinely feel, but rather a sort of emergent effect of our personalities and/or the process of trying to achieve consensus.

In my book, one of the marks of a good manager is one who notices when someone does a Good Thing™ and rewards them appropriately. Perhaps this is something we miss by being a collective and not having a manager of our own.


Talking of books, an exciting development this week was the publication of a new O’Reilly book, Understanding Computation, by our very own author-in-residence and plant-waterer-in-chief, Tom Stuart:

It’s a book about old, deep ideas from theoretical computer science, deconstructed and explained in an engaging, practical way for an audience of working programmers.

Given that I did my degree in Electronic-(ish) Engineering and not Computer Science, I’m hoping this book will fill in some big gaps in my knowledge. I’ve purchased a copy, but not yet found time to read any of it. However, if Tom’s Programming with Nothing talk at Ruby Manor 3 is anything to go by, I reckon it’s going to be well worth the money.


James found time this week to chat to the good folks at Poetica about their experiences with Harmonia. I’ve not yet had a chance to catch up with their feedback, but I think we’re incredibly fortunate to have some people using the product just around the corner. So I’d like to say a big thank you on behalf of Go Free Range to James Weiner for sparing some of his valuable time.

And with that, I bid you adieu.

– James

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