On being a curious generalist

How do we move forward into an uncertain world? A curious generalist recognises that whatever their interests and various areas of expertise, they are moving forward into an unknown world. They develop ways of thinking about and acting in the world to ensure it is fit for future generations that transcend specialisms and single disciplines. […]

On preparing for the jobs of the future (part 2)

In a previous article I summarised some ideas I shared with students at Liverpool John Moores University around the challenges of preparing for the future world of work. I set out the need for flexibility and responsiveness during times in which, I believe, we are seeing the slow, tortured death of an economic paradigm that […]

On the Siren’s song of our current systems

As people present to their GPs in increasing numbers with lifestyle illnesses the traditional constraints of our medical systems are creaking. Hospitals established on a factory model to achieve economies of scale on routine procedures are a poor fit for today’s patients who often present with co-morbidities including diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart […]

On the thinking/doing gap

When I need to make a difficult phone call I almost always have a feeling of, oh crap! Actually, let me be completely honest, any phone call. I just don’t like it and so I tend to defer. I might guess why that is, but that’s not so important here. Suffice it to say, I […]

On switching states

I sometimes wonder about the extent to which we see change as the need to switch from one state to another. To see things this way is to see change in terms of levers to be pulled, states to change, programmes to ‘get with’, things to stop and start, resolutions to make and keep. If […]

On valuing the intangibles

I’m watching the building opposite lurch skyward, day by day, block of concrete by protrusion of steel wires. Slowly the green vista beyond disappears. The reservoir that flattens the view across to Walthamstow, that offers a mirror to the clouds as they congregate and mingle and dissipate, that provides sanctuary for the birds I hear […]

On power

When we think about systems change we can often think of a complex system in isolation from all others, and yet that’s an artificial simplification of the kind we are trying to overcome through the application of systems thinking in the first place. We can’t think about reinventing the humanitarian system without asking first some […]

On balancing acts

We all know the public sector faces unprecedented pressures. Rising demand and expectations are compounded by Covid19 backlogs and falling budgets. These are the immediate and pressing concerns that public sector leaders face. It is easy in such times to enter survival mode, tending to the urgent presenting issues. However ,this comes at the expense […]

On the tensions of systems change

How many of us are in professions we dreamed of when we were young? Few, I guess, not only because most opportunties remained unknown to us growing up but also because many wouldn’t have existed then, either. Opportunities tend to only reveal themselves as we work our way through life. For me, I didn’t know […]

On rules

This piece is not going to advocate for a form of anarchy but rather explore the insidious nature of how our attempts to control with rules can tend towards the opposite. A rule is an abstraction and usually an attempt to ensure conformity to a standard: driving on the left, working between 9 and 5, […]