Common UK Defence Metonyms

I compiled a list of the most common metonyms used in UK Defence, with some help from Twitter.

This list arose from a need to help User Researchers who are new to UK defence to get a quick handle on some of the words we use to describe the main organisations and groupings – and hence users. That’s why it’s specifically a list of metonyms, not general defence abbreviations or jargon – which would be a much, much longer list!

This list is deliberately non-exhaustive (I’ve omitted anything sensitive or derogatory!) so please let me know via Twitter if there’s anything major that I’ve missed or just got wrong.

Metonym General meaning Specific meaning or origin
Abbeywood Defence Equipment and Support; MOD’s procurement arm DE&S at Abbeywood, Bristol
Aldermaston Defence Nuclear Organisation or AWE AWE Aldermaston, near Aldermaston, Berkshire
Andover Army HQ Army Command HQ at Andover, Wiltshire
Base / The Base [typically of IT or equipment] The equipment based in UK, not deployed overseas “New Style of IT” Base programme
Blackpool Veterans services organisation DBS Blackpool
Chilwell “Passing through Chilwell” = being mobilised as a Reservist especially Territorial Army RTMC Chilwell (TA Mobilisation Centre)
Corsham MOD’s IT department, Defence Digital (formerly ISS) Defence Digital main site near Corsham, Wiltshire
Dark Blue The Navy; the Navy contingent within a wider group Uniform colour of the Royal Navy (literally Navy Blue)
Fleet Navy HQ (note “The Fleet” means the Navy’s ships not the HQ) Old name for Navy Command HQ
Glasgow Army Pay or Personnel organisation; army admin processing Army Personnel Centre, Glasgow
High Wycombe RAF HQ RAF Command HQ at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Jack Tar A typical non-specific Sailor (cf. Joe Bloggs) Historic
Khaki or Green The Army; the Army contingent within a wider group Uniform colour of the British Army
Land Army HQ Old name for Army Command HQ
Lichfield Defence Medical Services Defence Medical Services at Lichfield, Staffordshire
Light Blue The RAF; the RAF contingent within a wider group Uniform colour of the Royal Air Force
London The Corporate Headquarters of Defence MOD Main Building, Whitehall, London
Main Building The Corporate Headquarters of Defence MOD Main Building, Whitehall, London
MODNET MOD’s main HQ IT system but sometimes refers to MOD office IT in general MODNET programme
Northwood UKStratcom HQ, or possibly PJHQ or the joint headquarters in general; UKStratCom HQ at Northwood, Middlesex
Porton Down Defence Science and Technology Laboratory as an organisation, sometimes the laboratories specifically DSTL HQ near Porton Down, Wiltshire
Portsmouth Navy HQ Navy Command HQ at Portsmouth, Hampshire
RAF Little Snoring (slang) a non-specific small military establishment, away from the centre Little Snoring in Norfolk (Former RAF site)
Senior Service / The Senior Service The Royal Navy as an organisation or Navy personnel RN was founded before the Army or RAF hence “senior”
Shrivenham The Defence Academy; “at Shrivenham” would usually mean being on a training course Defence Academy at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire
Strike RAF HQ Old name for RAF Command HQ
Sutton Coldfield Estates Management organisation, Defence Infrastructure Organisation DIO HQ at Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham
The Centre MOD Main Building; sometimes specifically the central planning/resourcing function within Main Building Various – No specific meaning
The Sixth Floor Defence Ministers and Service Chiefs; the top brass Floor 6 of Main Building
Tommy Atkins A typical non-specific Soldier (cf. Joe Bloggs) Historic
Town London; the Corporate Headquarters of Defence MOD Main Building, Whitehall, London
Whole-Force / The Whole Force Regulars, Reservists, MOD Civil Servants, Embedded Contractors as a single group Same as general meaning
York [less common] Security Vetting organisation or process UK Security Vetting Organisation in York (formerly part of MOD)

Leading with self: Positive Thinking and Motivation

What it was:

A session of positive thinking and planning, from a group exercise and a one-to-one co-coaching session, aimed at drawing up an action plan for achieving some of my professional aims. This was part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme held in London on 28 January 2020.

What I learned:

In the exercise, imagined ourselves looking back to now from a vantage point of success, two years in the future.

We identified:

Wish – what I hope for in the future
Outcome – the benefits I will see if I achieve this
Obstacles – the obstacles in me I need to overcome to succeed
Plan – what I will do to overcome these obstacles.

For me, these were:

* Leading a team ideally at SCS
* Working in the technology, innovation or digital field
* Doing something with impact, profile and influence.

* Feel happier, making a stronger contribution, using my skills, having a positive impact
* Achieving my social motivation of impact and influence

* Lack of the right role
* Lack of the right networks and contacts
* Lack of career examples / behaviours

* See below.

What I will aim to differently as a result

  • Generate examples tactically from the SCS behaviours, then do things that model those behaviours. The material is all publicly available!
  • Gain experience on how to join together a multidisciplinary team, and providing the enabling framework for teams to deliver
  • Be able to give examples where you mobilised people to work collaboratively
  • Learn to feel achievement from enabling others to do stuff (not doing it myself)
  • Understand the wider issues around AI e.g. cognitive biases; How do we engage people e.g. visualisation
  • Understand the benefits of the different factories, platforms etc.
  • Engage with the AI community; get on the GDS data science group; Go to events that help me move towards that skill set
  • Finally – Refresh my development plan to incorporate this.

Leading with Self: Emotional Intelligence

What it was

A one-day session on what it means to “lead self” in the context of a changing civil service, through being present and leading with emotional intelligence. Part of the Deputy Director Leadership Programme. Held in London on 28 January 2020.

What I learned

Emotional intelligence

The Emotional intelligence Framework – drawn from (Goldman, D. “Working with emotional intelligence”) – gives ways in which people can be emotionally intelligent and suggests areas to develop.

A similar model is the diagram here:

This model considers Self Vs Others and Awareness Vs Action

  • Awareness / self
    • Self awareness: Emotional self awareness
  • Awareness/ others
    • Social awareness: empathy, organisational awareness
  • Action /self
    • Self management: achievement orientation, adaptability, emotional self control, positive outlook
  • Action / others
    • Relationship management: conflict management, coach and mentor, influence, inspirational leadership, teamwork

Social Motivations

People typically have a combination of three social motivations:

  • Power motive: Primary test: Have an influence or make an impact on others
  • Achievement motive: Primary test: Meeting or exceeding a standard of excellence and or improving ones performance
  • Affiliation motive: Primary test: Maintaining or avoiding disruption of close friendly relations with people

People are often uncomfortable talking about power as a motivation!

Where things can go wrong:

  • Communication problems, including inability to listen or failure to speak up
  • Poor decision making processes, individual and group
  • Experienced experts can make poor choices and commit fundamental decisions making errors, especially under pressure

As a leader you need to be able to see when the team’s emotional engagement is blinding them to reality, for example failing to challenge assumptions, and leading to poor decisions.

Overall reflections on the day:

  • I find this subject hard to “do in the abstract” – I need to revisit this often and see how it can be applied at work.
  • I need to be braver and unafraid to challenge assumptions – especially from senior leadership.

What I will aim to do differently as a result

  • Get closer to the different teams and people – make more visits.
  • Understand what senior leaders want and worry about, talk to them.
  • Think about people’s motivations and how I can help them.
  • I will figure out a way of getting actions from these learning write ups into my task-tracking system
  • I will make time in my diary for leadership and reflection, and for follwing up on the actions from this course
  • Reflect on my social motives (impact and influence) and not to see it as bad, and reflect on the motives of others
  • I will aim to research how to develop greater focus, attention and self control (e.g. Pomodoro technique?)
  • Challenge assumptions and groupthink, have courage

Personal Transparency: Working Hours – Sep 19 to Jan 20

About the data:

  • This is the first new data-publish in my personal transparency experiment.
  • This data covers my time in work or work-related activities from 23 Sep 19 to 10 Jan 20.
  • This work is logged against four categories:
    • Working in Office (self-explanatory)
    • Working from home or remote location (e.g. train, cafe, home)
    • Self-directed learning (coding, other learning and time spent writing this blog)
    • Formal learning (Civil Service learning or other organised courses)
  • Data published: Date, timestamp, Start/Begin, End/Leave, Category
  • Format: .csv
  • I have corrected the data, mainly to cover for those entries where I logged after the fact (so the ‘timestamp’ on the log is not the actual time that was logged). Plus also a few errors and omissions.

How I gathered the data:

  • I used a simple Google Form, via a shortcut on my phone’s home screen. The form allows immediate logging of the ‘start’ or ‘end’ of an activity, and the category of activity.
  • The form also allows me to note down an alternative time if I am logging after the event rather than at the time the acivity occured. I needed to do this a lot as I very often forgot to log at the time. In general when I logged after the fact I approximated to the nearest 5 mins.
  • Note that I have not logged any ‘travelling time’ (either routine commuting to work, or longer journeys to meetings at other offices). The only exceptions to this are where I have worked on the train, which I have logged as ‘Working from home or remote location’

Learning, insight and follow-up from this exercise:

  • With a simple form in place, it is not a significant effort for me to record this data.
  • It’s vital to log the work as it happens – logging the times after the fact and then correcting the data later is confusing and time-consuming!
  • I will perform some analysis on this data when I have got better at recording it – and have more of it.

Transparency – an experiment

Those of you that know me may have heard me talk about transparency, and how I feel this is important for good public service. I think that civil servants being more transparent about their work could have various potential benefits:

  • Greater accountability
  • Better learning / sharing of best practice
  • Promotes understanding of what civil servants ‘actually do’

Ultimately, the public pay my salary so there’s a reasonable argument they should be able to see what they get for the money.

The experiment

I’ve decided to conduct a personal experiment in transparency and accountability – effectively a form of personal radical transparency. The principal is that I will endeavour to publish as much information about my work as practicable.

The purposes of this experiment are:

  • To examine the value of greater transparency from civil servants – for example, does this give greater insight into what I do, or actively obfuscate that? Which things are useful and which aren’t?
  • To examine the practical considerations around being transparent – what tools / guidance / best practice / rules might help civil servants be more transparent?
  • To identify any other consequencs of transparency – for example, does it affect the way I work and/or the decisions I make, knowing that some of this will be published?

The (initial) ground rules of the experiment are:

  • I can’t give details of anything protectively marked / embargoed.
  • I can’t give details about my work that give away other people’s information (only my own information).
  • I can’t give way details that would otherwise compromise security – for example my personal security.
  • I do not have much time to dedicate to this so it will be on a ‘best endeavours’ basis.
  • Some of this likely won’t work, won’t be practical or won’t be sustainable – hence it is an experiment.

I’ll be adding more information (in this blog’s new “Transparency” category) over the coming weeks and months so stay tuned. Wish me luck!