On not rushing through transitions (part 1)

There was a moment, sitting nervously high up on the edge of the gantry from which I was to jump, when I realised I couldn’t reach the trapeze. I had to launch myself forwards, focused on the bar, and anticipate catching it, quite literally letting go of the safe and familiar to leap forward, confident(ish) […]

On communities after Covid-19

Grafton, a small New England settlement in Vermont state, had long been home to those seeking a quiet, unintruded life characterised by low levels of government regulation and civic participation. It seemed like the perfect place to develop a community based on logic and free market principles, and that is exactly what a group of […]

On building culture

For reasons irrelevant to this post (and despite probably being detrimental to my general wellbeing) I follow the Arizona Cardinals NFL team, a historically bad franchise. Last season was founded on high hopes and a positive start but ultimately dashed by an all-too familiar slide to mediocrity. Pundits and commentators were critical of player leadership […]

On existing at different speeds

“Civilisations with long nows look after things better. In those places you feel a very strong but flexible structure which is built to absorb shocks and in fact incorporate them.”  Brian Eno The global coronavirus pandemic is nothing if not emergent. It has shortened our time horizons and brought the here-and-now into immediate focus: respond to […]

On countering our anti-risk instinct

Why does the status quo prevail despite our best efforts at change? We are faced with a huge amount of content. Incoming streams of news, data, demands are sprayed at us from all angles. Things move so fast we often don’t have time to even note what’s changed before the next thing. These are tough […]

On pandemic foresight

These are tumultuous times, as I am now closing out my second month of working form home in a Covid19-driven lockdown. Times during which the pandemic has already upended our individual and collective anticipation for what a good life holds in store and one in which global warming continues to cast a darkening shadow over […]

On coalitions and partnerships

How do we identify and account for the value in bringing a range of diverse people, perspectives and organisations together, initiated by a challenge or local imperative for action and change? If there is a sense of collective value, what are the possibilities we can achieve by working together during and after any period of […]

On finding the unknown

Why is entrepreneurialism in the public sector important and why do we need new ways of spending public money that deliver greater public value? Let me frame this challenge with a Quote from Plato, in which Meno asked: “how will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?”. In […]

On accelerating social innovation

In order to transform public services and improve population health outcomes, we need to accelerate the social innovation process in communities – co-creating solutions from the ‘bottom up’ to tackle complex societal challenges. There are wider economic and societal benefits to be realised from embracing the efforts of community organisers and social entrepreneurs. The challenge […]

On moving fast and fixing things

Commissioning and innovation are two terms that belong together, yet all too often they remain separated, unless it is to describe the inability of the former to achieve the latter. In this piece I’ll explore why they are normally used as either/or terms and share some learning from places that are actively trying to put […]

On commissioning in complexity

“Probation is a complex social service, and it has proved well-nigh impossible to reduce it to a set of contractual requirements.” Such was the conclusion of HM Chief Inspector of Probation when the government announced this week that they were re-nationalising the delivery of some probation services. If outsourcing led to improved outcomes at lower […]