Abhishek’s mam


This piece of paper was shoved at me by my 10 year old when I came home from work.

“Can we have Indian food tonight! Abhishek’s mam is selling home made Indian food see, give it a ring “

Abhishek is his school friend, I’m now guessing that his mum must have just handed this sheet out at school.

Look at it. No title, no name just a mobile number, not laid out right. It doesn’t have any times, or instructions about how long in advance to order.
It’s brilliant.

It’s brilliant because it exists.
It’s the very first thing done, not the last, so it is the worst it will be right now, and it can only get better.
If it didn’t exist it couldn’t get better, it does so it will.

This is why Abhishek’s mam is better than every single improvement effort or project I’ve seen in the council.

There is no sign of a project plan.
No theme board.
Not a whisper of a triangle.
Instead she has skin in the game.

No AS-IS and no TO-BE.
Instead she will learn what works by experimenting and finding out.

This is so exciting, despite it being nothing to do with me, because it is real.
I find nothing exciting in any of my organisations efforts because they are not real.

This is why my organisation should be more like Abhishek’s mam.

Posted in experiment, knowledge, learning, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’d love a body like yours

I go to a bootcamp, pressups out doors in the mud, sprinting uphill carrying sandbags. That sort of thing.


Illustration for illustration purposes

I was looking at the Facebook page of someone who also goes, there was a recent photo of her on there and I saw a friend of hers had left a comment beneath it …

“eeeh, I wish I had a body like yours”

I was bored so I clicked on the Facebook profile of this person.

The first 3 photos were of this person holding drinks in different places, bars, clubs, living rooms. One was of her holding a whole pizza outside a kebab shop.

I realised that she doesn’t “want a body like yours”.
She might think she does, but that’s not what she really wants.
What she actually wants is someone to magically come along and just give her a body like that. With magic, not hard work.


A person with a body like this lady lives her life DOING THE THINGS THAT RESULTS in that body. The sort of person with a body like that is the sort of person who does particular things that result in it.

Same as people say “I want to be a millionaire“, they really would just like someone to give them a million pounds not to actually be the sort of person who becomes a millionaire. Try this in the next person who claims they’d love to be a millionaire….

“So you want to start your own business, numerous times because you’re going to go bankrupt more than once. Oh, and lose your house probably. But those 7 day working weeks and 18 hour days will fly by, especially since you won’t be able to take a holiday. Well done you! “

That is the sort of thing a person has to do to be the sort of person who is a millionaire.
Not many people wish for that.

Whether in the workplace or the gym, this here holds true …


The gym rules are really easy, if your want a body like hers…


The hard thing is where they aren’t handily written down on a wall like that. Like at work.

If you’re like me, you want to work in a place full of purpose, where every day you can help people with their problems. And you probably don’t.

It’s pointless wishing that you work in a place like that, there are only two options open to you. Pick one ….


One choice, 2 options

I’m choosing the first option, definitely.

Posted in purpose, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I’m not at my desk right now









Posted in leadership, learning, systems thinking | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Low hanging fruit? Don’t waste your time


This is an extended metaphor about fruit. You have been warned.


Managers love low hanging fruit.
Improvements that are the easiest and quickest to carry out, surely only an idiot wouldn’t go for them.
Well that must mean I’m an idiot.

Yesterday I went blackberry picking and learnt that the WORST fruit to go for are the low hanging sort. Here’s why…


Some high hanging fruit, yesterday

1: Low hanging fruit won’t be there.
You go to the blackberry bush, and there’s no blackberries. Why? Because somebody has beaten you to it. They’re always somebody who beats you to it, these things don’t hang around. forever. It might have been YOU who beat you to it, the very first time you went for the low hanging fruit. You can only go once and then there aren’t any.
Lesson: most of the time you want to improve something, the easy stuff will already have been done. It’s always the hard stuff that’s left over.

2: The juiciest best fruit is the hardest to reach.
See those berries, right the back. Just to the left of the leaf. No, not THAT leaf. The other one. See how juicy they are? Is because they’re not the easy low hanging sort, these are plump ripe and ready to pluck and nobody has because they’re hard to get to. A bit of effort is required.
Lesson:The easy small stuff will be gone, so that only leaves the hard GOOD STUFF. Not only that but…

3: It hurts at first, then it doesn’t
The berries at the back are surrounded by thorns and nettles. You’ll get stung, and at first it’ll hurt but eventually you’ll get used to it as the price you pay and you won’t notice the stings only the berries.
Lesson: The first time you start to do the hard things it’ll hurt, too hard! You’ll cry. After that it becomes normal.

4: One you start you can’t stop
Pick one berry, there’s another one right next to it. Why stop when there’s always another one within finger reach.
Lesson: Improvement is continuous because otherwise it’s not. There’s no such thing as complacent improvement. Once all the low hanging stuff had gone and you’re into the hard stuff that’s you started, so don’t stop.

5: You pick a thousand berries one berry at a time.


One thousand berries, yesterday.

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I want to be a Dual Action Dad


THIS is an advert by Persil for a product of theirs called “dual action”. The person in the shower is doing two things at once, showering and cleaning the shower, this is the point of their marketing. Why do one thing, when you can do two.

That’s the last bit of publicity I’m going to give to their wretched product.

Instead. LOOK CLOSER at the person in that advert. Looks quite female eh? Nothing unusual, half of us are female and the other half aren’t.


CaptureYou know you’re a Dual Action MUM? Shurely shome mishtake?

Let’s see their website has to say about this….


Ignore the AMAZING skill needed to online shop and bake a cake.


What is this, the 1950s? No it is 2014 and I thought the lazy stereotyping of women as housewives stopped around about the same time we recognised that Jews aren’t grasping misers and black people aren’t grinning idiots.

Persil didn’t get the email, apparently.

This matters because it is a huge multinational plastering this message that normal is mums dual acting, normal is mums cleaning showers, normal is mums baking cakes, normal is mums online shopping.

But it isn’t, the reason why this caught my eye is that the previous day I, a dad, had spent the morning cleaning the bathroom, starting with the shower whilst I showered myself.



Yes, I am a Dual Action DAD. At least on this occasion anyway, and the Persil ad by stating what is and what is not normal has showed me for one tiny moment what I am guessing it might be like FOR WOMEN’S ENTIRE LIVES. And I found it annoying.

Being told a complete pack of lies about normality and what is right for a mum or dad to to, by a company that can plaster its lies everywhere, that’s annoying.

Having to live an entire life dictated by that, I’m imagining is worse.
So that’s my systems thnking lesson for today. I don’t have a clue about what it’s like to stereotyped as I’m the default standard for people, I’m English, white, male, straight and able-bodied. The one time I have been stereotyped in a tiny way, I loathe it.

So if you don’t want Unilever to tell you who you are and what normal behaviour is, go here and tell them exactly what your dual action is. In my case it is this…


You however could tell them to sit on it AND swivel. Up to you.

Posted in systems thinking | Tagged | 2 Comments

9 more ways to tell you have a Joke Job

As per previous post, there are many types of Joke Jobs in C&C land. Here are 9 ways to tell you might have one of them.

  1. You type a lot of words.
    If you’re typing, try speaking. If there’s too many people to speak to, there’s too many people full stop.
  2. You write strategies, plans or policies.
    All strategies, plans and policies exist in people’s heads. If they don’t, writing one won’t put it there. It just puts words on paper.
  3. You refresh things.
    Strategies, plans, policies. If youre refreshing anything other than the decor in your house, you’re not refreshing anything at all.
  4. You “theme” things.
    If you use the word “theme” in any context at work and you don’t work in musical composition, you have a Joke Job. Dead givaway.
  5. You draft emails.
    Emails are typed and sent. They are casual communication, they are not papal announcements. Drafting one, for others to read and check, is the sign of a Joke Job.
  6. You use the word “inform” whilst meaning the complete opposite
    For example, “the data will inform the development of this years Partnership Strategy“, means “the data will be completely ignored in the  development of this years Partnership Strategy
  7. The passive tense is used in all communications that are sent by you.
    Words that are sent by you will therefore have been born with the air of inevitibility, universal truth and fait accompli showered upon them.
  8. You form conclusions with no data.
    Outside of work this is called “having an opinion“. At work it is called “making a decision“.
  9. You take documents places.
    You take documents for a walk. You take policies into the Theme Board, strategies into the Executive Strategic Meeting or reports into Cabinet. Documents aren’t young children or dogs, they don’t need to be taken on small excursions.
Posted in command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | 4 Comments

Do you have a joke job?

kk (paint)


I think “manager” is a Joke Job.

I feel sorry for the people who are managers, they’ve been duped into believing that working hard and doing things right will be rewarded with a bigger and better job.
In fact they’ve been duped into a Joke Job. This is not another post where I have a go at managers, “managers” are just as much a feature of command and control thinking as other Joke Jobs like “policy officer” or “internal audit”. It’s not their fault. Here are…

4 reasons why “manager” is a joke job

  1.  You have little control over the work
    The phrase “command and control” is a lie.
    Most organisations are command and control, but in theory only. Changes are made that have no actual impact on reality outside of a report. You say things, other things get done. Managers cannot control work standing outside it, based on flawed second hand knowledge, but that’s their job.
  2. You perform meaningless tasks and have to pretend they’re real
    IPRs, performance reviews, appraisals, call them what you want, most of us have to deal with only one of them, our own. Managers have to deal with handfuls of the things. Typing up lie after lie, “If I’m doing all this work, either it’s worthwhile or I’M stupid.“, finding themselves in “a situation in which a person’s behavior is inconsistent with their beliefs, that person tends to justify the behavior and deny any negative feedback associated with the behavior.”[link] And so the stupid rolls on…
  3. People regularly lie to you
    The centre of purpose in a command and control organisation is “whoever tells me what to do“, and if youre a manager, thats you. Due to Point 1 [above], you are making all sorts of changes to the work that odds on won’t be making things better, but people will be telling that it is. Why so? Because you are purpose. Hard to achieve, but rather easier to lie to, especially when somebodies job depends upon it. Two people’s, theirs AND yours.
    Consensual lying flourishes, the best type too, the type that doesn’t know it is a lie after a short while. Whenever you say something people are expected to not only hear the words you say but also the thoughts you think. This helps with communication no end as people can only guess what’s in your head and then lie to you based on their assumptions of what you would like to hear. Everyone’s a winner.
  4. You are expected to know everything even when completely ignorant
    Poor you. Making decisions in ignorance, people lying to you about the results, AND STILL you’re supposed to know what’s going on. Here’s some help though…your staff will still act as if you know everything. “What should we do?”, “I dunno, let’s ask the boss”. Note the use of the word “should” , not what could we do, but should do. What are the chances that the person who knows what to do is a person who’s lied to, doesn’t know what’s going on and will assume you can read their mind?
    Slim at best?

Any job that could only make sense in a command and control organization is based on a flawed theory about how work works, and therefore is not a real job. “Manager” is a joke job.



Posted in command and control, leadership, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment