Open Thinkering


Tag: politics

TB872: Systemic failure in UK governance

Note: this is a post reflecting on one of the modules of my MSc in Systems Thinking in Practice. You can see all of the related posts in this category.

This was a fascinating 10-minute video going through how, despite competence, a mandate, and lots of money from economic prudence, New Labour didn’t manage to make a difference in child poverty and crime, and a only a negligible difference in education.

The point that Prof. Stein Ringen makes is that, if this government, with all of its advantages couldn’t get done what they were sent to do, then nobody can. He therefore comes up with a recipe, which involves some systemic ‘fixes’ — which are largely around decentralising the power that 10 Downing Street (i.e. the office of the Prime Minister) has gained over the last 30 years.

I’m not one for sitting through YouTube videos, but this one was engaging because of the work of the visual scribe, Andrew Park. What he helps bring to life is how a ‘command and control’ approach can fail to mobilise those who need to be involved in making the change happen.

A welcome corrective to narratives around the ‘future of work’

I ran a session at the Learning Technologies 2022 conference today entitled Verifiable credentials: get ready for the next generation of badges and digital credentials. It went really well and I got good feedback, even if a corporate audience isn’t one I’m used to addressing these days.

You’ll notice if you click through the above link to my slides that the first slide is basically this image with a link to the Verso website:

Screenshot of the Verso books website showing the results of a search for 'automation'

This was a last-minute addition and a response to the keynote panel session running prior to it. The panel featured someone from McKinsey, someone promoting their book, and a researcher into the future of work. I’ve no bone of contention with them, but the framing seemed to be that there are some kind of ‘inevitable’ trends happening. This was evident by a question from the audience about the widely-reported threat of a recession — to which the reply from the stage was that this would only slow down what’s already happening.

To be clear, we co-create the future. Things happen because we collectively cause them to happen.

I’ve read four of the books in that screenshot:

They’re all excellent and thought-provoking. I want to read the other two shown on there, and I’d also perhaps throw 24/7: Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary into the mix. Yes, they’re written from a reasonably-radical left-of-centre perspective, but given most of our ‘news’ and business ‘thought leadership’ is extremely right-leaning, it’s a welcome corrective.

So this is Covid


How ironic, to get a positive PCR test result on the same day that the government announces the end of many Covid-related restrictions. Welcome to my life.

So this is Covid
And what have you done?
Another isolation over
And a new one just begun

A very merry Covid
And a happy lateral flow
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any T’s

And so this is Covid
I hope you have fun
Infecting the near and the dear ones
The old and the young

Thankfully, because I’ve had my vaccinations, my symptoms are so mild that I can work through it and haven’t choked to death. My lateral flow test was negative this morning, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to end self-isolation early (midnight Sunday).

A cynic might note that the early end to restrictions in England seems designed to appease hardline Tories in an attempt to prop-up Boris Johnson’s premiership. Especially when yesterday saw the highest Covid-related death toll since last February.

At least my son will be happy he doesn’t have to wear a mask in class any more. Let’s just hope he doesn’t join his sister in isolation given that it’s his birthday in the next few days…