Learn, learn and learn again

I had a dream meeting this afternoon. I wasn’t even meant to be there – I was just standing in for my boss. I’m not sure if every one of these meetings is as good as today’s but aside from the lack of social media all of my favourite topics were covered and I managed to contribute quite a bit to everything. First up was channel shift and the next thing we’ll be looking at is payments. As part of the channel shift conversation I threw in some user testing of the website as it is at the moment. I’m proposing some hallway testing where we set up some table on the landings between the lifts and the entrances to departments. We’d leave them  unmanned but with screenshots of web pages, a scenario and a what-would-you-click-next Q&A sheet. We’d also have a manned one outside the staff restaurant over a lunch time and with the other results it would give us some indication of what works and what doesn’t. I’m on the working group for this next phase of channel shift so that will be interesting.

Next up was digital inclusion and how we need to have a master plan or channel shift will never work. Those who know me know that I’ve been banging this drum since 2007 so of course I offered my services and again mentioned Our Digital Planet and how we should be getting the project to South Lanarkshire. It fits right in with the group’s plans so tomorrow I have to share the Our Digi Planet goodness. Part of that conversation led to me bang on about the fabulous demographics we get by using the esdtoolkit – another hobbyhorse of mine.

Rounding up all this was a comment about switching off other channels and forcing people down the digital route, something I would never advise but this did lead me to tell them about my trip to the Behavioural Insights Team at the Cabinet Office last year. I think they all had to pick their chins up off the table at that point. But that led to a conversation about behavioural economics and I think I’ve won them over. I’m not sure I’ll be asked back though – I think I tired them all out 😉

On other news my third MOOC started today meaning I now have 3 online courses running simultaneously: An Introduction to Complexity at the Santa Fe Institute; Dan Ariely’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour at Duke’s University; and Disruptive Technologies at the University of Maryland. I must admit I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew but I’ll give it a go anyway.

Today I have learned:

  • people sometimes learn things from me
  • for the next wee while it’s best if I take life in 10-minute chunks, any longer than that and I panic

Today’s track

I’m not a huge KT fan but this blows me away every time I watch it – outstanding talent.

Today’s recipe

Creamy chicken and mushroom lasagne


Serves 8 easily

This is very rich and in no way healthy, although it’s healthier than a massive shop-bought lasagne.

a knob of butter

2 onions, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 small boxes of chestnut mushrooms

5 cooked chicken breasts (I did mine the day before in tinfoil with seasoning and a dash of white wine 180C/Gas 5) for 35-40 mins), chopped

a small bunch of parsley, chopped

3 tbsp Parmesan, grated

150mls double cream

750mls bechamel sauce (see below)

1 packet of fresh lasagne

For the bechamel

60g butter

1.5 tsp mustard

2-3 tbsp plain flour

750 mls milk

For the basil topping

1 small pack pine nuts

2 small packs basil leaves

2 garlic cloves

4 tbsp Parmesan, grated

enough olive oil to make a paste

Method: First make the basil topping. Blitz all the ingredients together and set aside.

Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and add the onion and garlic and cook till soft. Add the mushrooms and when almost cooked add the parsley and the cooked chicken. Next add the  Parmesan and cream and season. Simmer until the cream has thickened slightly.

Next make the bechamel. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the mustard. Stir in the flour until you have a thick mixture. Add the milk gradually, whisking with an egg whisk to prevent lumps and heat until you have a thick sauce.

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 5.

Now to put it all together. Put a layer of bechamel on the bottom of a big lasagne dish. Add a layer of pasta then half chicken and mushroom mixture. Add another layer of pasta then the rest of the chicken and mushroom. Add a final layer of pasta then spoon over the basil paste and top with bechamel. Add a sprinkling of Parmesan then bake for 50 minutes.

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