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 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, […]

On the tyranny of goals

After South Africa thrashed England in the recent test, captain Ben Stokes said something I can’t imagine any other team captain has ever said in any sport: “I don’t want England to focus too much on results”. Yes!! He went on: “The message […] will be, ‘Did we commit to everything the way we committed […]

On music as a barometer of social change

The baseline thunders through your body, primeval, uplifting, manifestations of Gaia’s energy of life. You’re dancing around a fire to the rhythm of the pounding drums. The sparks fly upwards into the sky and you’re lost in the meditation of the moment. Ten thousand years later and you’re in a dark club in the early […]

On my journey with the RSA

From time to time, as you navigate the complexity of life, you can reach a vantage point, take a look around and see things differently, see new things emerging. Feel drawn to a different future, in a different direction. If you’re paying attention within and without, you know when it’s time. And for me, after […]

On systems change in the third sector (part 2)

In part 1, we argued that there are clear factors that ideally position the VCSFE sector to respond to complex challenges that show up in our communities. Yet this potential isn’t fulfilled. In part 2 we explore how the sector might align its efforts in order to liberate the best it has to offer.  The […]

On systems change in the third sector (part 1)

“…If you want to understand function, study structure”  Francis Crick Despite advancements in health, technology, living standards, education and wealth, their benefits have not been evenly distributed, giving rise to the wicked social challenges that blight many people’s lives. Climate change, conflict, growing levels of inequality in health, wealth, and opportunity are challenges that are […]

On tracking what’s new

Since my blog on tracking changes during COVID-19 went viral, I’ve run lots of workshops and sessions helping people apply it in their own context, from community businesses and universities to a range of NHS organisations, religious groups, schools and charities. Far more have picked it up and happily run with it. As a diagnostic […]

On framing change

My original COVID-19 change framework was a simple attempt to help track what’s going on in the aftermath of a crisis event and offer some potential routes forward once things start to settle down a bit. I captured this in the idea that it’s not as simple as stopping what you’ve started and starting what […]

On starting points for change

By definition the status quo holds. The way things are settles into patterns of conformity and repetition, defaults and norms. The here-and-now of our lives processes with daily, weekly, monthly rituals and rhythms. It’s an effort to keep challenging and enquiring into the possibilities of different. It takes bandwidth to see the opportunity, effort to […]

On Stephen Lawrence Day

I was invited to take part in a discussion on the legacy of Stephen Lawrence alongside amazing panellists – Meera Spillett, Chris Murray, Rosemary Campbell-Stephens and Keith Jarrett. It was, for me, a stretch of my own comfort. I was used to sharing my experiences and thoughts in deeply personal and private situations. This was […]

On linking pay and performance (part 2)

In part one I explored the views of human nature that often underly moves to link pay and performance, even now. I suggested that individual performance is the product of the system within which people work, and that to hold individuals to account for their performance in these complex systems of work is misguided at […]