Monthly spotlight on Tamsin Fox-Davies
01 July 2019
Posted by: Abi Walker
Each month we are interviewing a member of the Agile Business Consortium community. For July's spotlight interview, we have the Consortium's Head of Brand, Tamsin Fox-Davies.
How would you describe your role to a child?
It’s my job to ensure that how other people see us is how we want to be seen – as a source of useful Business Agility information and a hub for the global agility community. Most importantly, this means being easily understood and getting people to see that we have lots of free information and tools that can help them with what we want to do, as well as looking good whilst we do it.
Before working at your current company, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
When I was still at school, I had a Saturday job for an educational charity that worked with primary schools to reduce racism and increase understanding of different cultures. The organisation ran with the two founders, a handful of remote trainers, and four school kids aged 14-16. Pretty unusual for that age! It was a huge learning experience in understanding my personal abilities and gave me a head-start in knowing what workplace culture and life was all about. I also had another part-time job working at a wholesale jewellery company for a woman who couldn’t ever remember my name. She would introduce me as Tasmin, Jasmin, Jemima, and once, Marguerite!
How did you come to agile/business agility?
I didn’t know it at the time, but I learnt my first agile lessons when working at SaaS and FinTech businesses. Our software teams used agile techniques and some of them seeped through the organisation, so even as part of a marketing team we would have daily stand-ups and use a Kanban approach to work planning. So I was using a bit of agile without knowing what it was called. I think of this as back-door agile, and I bet there’s a whole load more people in that position. I only found out what agile was in terms of a project management technique when I came across the Agile Business Consortium.
What is your understanding of business agility?
Business Agility is a simple concept, but harder to implement. It means being flexible and adaptable in strategy and operations. In fact, you can implement agile approaches inside various business operations (like HR, marketing, finance etc), but unless your business has an agile strategy overall, then it’s not really agile. From observation, the key to that is mindset, culture and leadership.
What’s the first thing you do when you start the workday?
I like to start my day with a cup of Earl Grey tea, whilst I write my priority list for that day, check my diary for appointments, and then look at my email to see what’s coming in from others. I use a success planner provided by our coach, Felicity Lerouge, to create the priority list and I’ve found it very helpful as it breaks up my big list into my three must-dos and then everything else, as well as providing space for setting my intention for the day and reviewing yesterday’s successes and learnings.
What Agile techniques do you use in your day to day life?
So many! Here’s a few of my top ones:
- I am a creative and visual thinker, so I use a lot of Post-It notes and flip chart paper when I’m planning campaigns or articles.
- MoSCoW prioritisation is also extremely helpful and I’ve set up several of my Trello boards with MoSCoW columns to help remain focused and keep on track.
- JEPUF (Just Enough Planning Up Front). Identifying the big goal, and having an idea of how to get there, but not wasting time planning the whole process in detail. Only the next few steps or next timebox needs that much attention.
- Facilitated workshops are probably my favourite. Got a problem or project you want to do? Have a workshop. This is great for me because I benefit from hearing the ideas and concerns of others, and I use these discussions to refine my thinking and make sure we’re on the right track.
What exciting projects are you working on right now?
Generation Agile is the biggest and most exiting project I’m working on at the moment. We’re campaigning for a fundamental adjustment to the way that children and young people are being educated. We want to see the inclusion of agility and agile skills in compulsory and higher education as the current curricula are not designed to make students flexible and adaptable. The World Economic Forum has highlighted that by 2022 the most in demand skills will largely be agile ones, including critical thinking, complex problem solving, creativity, etc. However, our schools and universities reward more traditional skills like knowledge retention and data management. It’s a fascinating topic, so if you want to know more go to agilebusiness.org/generationagile
What do you enjoy doing out of work?
There are a lot of things I enjoy, but one thing that I’ve really come to love in the last couple of years is gardening. We moved from a boat (no garden at all) to a house with a large garden and I’ve really got stuck in. I’m most interested in doing it sustainably, so am testing drought-tolerant plants, and also those with more natural pest resistance. I also have five rescue dogs, and want to be around animals as much as possible, so you can often find me at animal sanctuaries and wildlife centres.
Tell us a random fact about you?
I met my husband when we were both living on boats in London, and used to run a property company helping buy and sell residential boats.
As a voracious reader I find this hard to narrow down, so I’m going to give two:
- My fiction pick is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It’s funny and weird and is an interesting commentary on the lines between good and evil. As it’s just been made in to an Amazon series, I’m hoping that more people will want to read it too.
- The latest non-fiction book I’ve found really valuable is Micro-Resilience by Bonnie St. John and Allen Haines. Resilience is a hot topic at the moment, but mostly focused on macro-resilience (i.e. practices that you can take up that will make you more resilient over time). However, this book looks at small actions that can make an immediate difference to how resilient you are in that moment. Many of these will build up to make you more resilient over all as well, which is just a bonus, and the actions they share are pretty simple to implement.