This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Awake at the Wheel

My usual refrain in this blog has been how in spite of all the great stuff going on at the BBC's R&D area, basically it's going to hell in a hand cart. Against that background the last 3 weeks sojourn in Hungary, Croatia and Italy was a blessed release from the pressure that working in such a state of apparently terminal decline can bring about. Great holiday by the way- will blog some pix via flickr later.

About eight weeks ago Eric put the whole relocation of R&D on hold- a move I was worried by (and I still do think it will have cost us some difficulties in setting up a space in the White City buildings). Yesterday we saw the first elements of what he has cooked up during the hiatus, and it delights me to say that everything we saw looked great.

There are three key points as far as I'm concerned:
  • The decisions about where to put R&D geographically, and how to structure it internally, are all being based on a serious 'back to basics' review of what the BBC is doing R&D for- and they're being quite up front about saying it's a philosophical enquiry. This is tremendous exciting, and appears to be really progressive too- Eric considers R&D to be an asset at several levels, including nationally and internationally.
  • The relocation plans, as were, are scrapped since we were going to loose too many people with those. That's not to say that some elements won't look familiar, but the fundamentally cavalier way that the relocation of staff looked like it was going to be handled is gone. That, plus the clear, sensible, and intelligent context the analysis above is providing will give us a much better chance of keeping enough key people. We must retain critical mass, and this move will be designed to acheive exactly that.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly and most tellingly, Eric has appointed Matthew Postgate to be controller of R&D. This is great- I've been working part time on an innovation strategy for mobile for the last few months, and he is a rock solid bloke. Eminently proffesional, technically savvy, open minded and with a radical streak a mile wide- he was running the BBC Mobile area for a few years and under his managment we've seen some great launches (iPlayer on iPhone and Nokia n96, Electric Proms, and the great Olympics coverage to name just a few). The fact that this appointment has been made early, and in advance of Erics wider scale rejig of the whole of FM&T, gives us confidence in our place in the dvision and the wider BBC.
The atomosphere at Kingswood was better yesterday than I have seen it for years, perhaps ever. We used to feel that there really was no one at the wheel, or at best we'd get occasional nudges from a sleeping, part time, frankly un-qualified and un-interested journeyman manager. Now we have Matthew, and we have very high hopes indeed.

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