You are no Daniel Kahneman, sir, and I would have you unhand me before I call the gendarmie


This is Daniel Kahneman
He won a Nobel prize, he has written loads of books, all about how you think and how you make decisions.

He has simply loads to offer to help people make better decisions.

You’d think that people whose very job it is to make good decisions would really want him to help them get better?
People like senior leaders in organisations, them surely?

No. They do not.

Here is Daniel…

“The reaction is always the same—they are very interested, but unless they invited you specifically because they wanted to do something, they don’t want to apply anything.”[link]

When asked “Why do you think leaders are hesitant to act on your ideas?”…

That’s easy.
Leaders know that any procedure they put in place is going to cause their judgement to be questioned.
And whether they’re fully aware of it or not, they’re really not in the market to have their decisions and choices questioned.”

So, if THIS man, clutching his Nobel Prize For Cleverness can’t get leaders interested, why would a leader listen to some oik like you*?




















That’s it. No more to this post. No clever 7 point plan outlining cunning strategies. The point was in that last question.

*Or me too obviously. I’m a total oik

Posted in all wrong, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Why do you need a hole in your head?

Why is it that a…

d5371688a …is a really essential thing to have?

Here’s why!

You’re the head cook in a primary school.
It’s your job to design the menu and make the meals.

You want to make the healthiest food you can, but also food that will actually be eaten by the kids.
You know what healthy is, but how do you find out what kids actually will eat?
The best way  is to find out what they DO eat.Carrot-taste-test-3

If you worked in an office or a factory you might be able to run a report on your work that’d show you this sort of thing.  Capture

But you can’t, cos you’re a cook, there’s no database, no performance person.
There’s just you.

You and your curiosity.

With that you can do anything.

Here is what one cook with curiosity did…

Watching her talking to the children as they clear their plates, it’s obvious she is utterly committed to the job. “I stand by the bins so I can hear what they’re saying,” she says. “But, just as importantly, I can see exactly what they’re eating.[link]

She wanted to know so she went and found out. She went to the work and got knowledge because she wanted to know.

People who are curious will find a way to find out.
People who are not curious will not.

It is easy to learn when you are curious.
When you are not curious you won’t learn a thing.


Here’s what happens when you’re presented with some dead important knowledge. An answer to something you need is right in front of you…



The answer has nowhere to go! That’s the thing with knowledge, it’s like a vampire, it can’t get inside your head until invited inside


But what happens if the person has a question in their head?


The answer has somewhere to go!
Not only does it have somewhere to go, it is sucked in.



“Questions are places in your mind where answers fit.
If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off.
You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.” [link]

That’s the purpose of questions, they are the receptors for answers. They make room for answers by creating a space your mind has to fill with answers.
No questions, no answers.

CaptureSo what’s this got to do with systems thinking then?

I once was doing listening to demand with some staff who were nice and polite, well intentioned and hard working. But it wasn’t going spectacularly well. Then they said something that made me understand why…
They asked me when I wanted my demand data.

They didn’t want it, they thought they were collecting it for me, the performance person
They didn’t have the question, the hole in the mind needing filled, they just were collecting the answers for somebody else out of a sense of duty.


When I stopped doing things with them, they stopped. There was nothing needed filling, no hole.
They were not the people who asked me to help them with a problem they had. It wasn’t their manager who asked me, who wasn’t in the room. It was someone else who ALSO wasn’t in the room. The person with the problem wasn’t in the room, therefore the question wasn’t in the room. Without the question being in the room, there was nowhere for the answers to go.

Without curiosity there’s nothing.

Posted in knowledge, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ooooohhh Matron!

How mucked up things can get when you focus on the wrong thing…
Four years later and it is STILL hilarious to me



Quick! This patient is haemorrhaging fast!
We need to get him to the Lean Project Room!
Nurse, 30 mils of Takttime and VSM intravenous!
Intubate and bag him! He’s going AS-IS!

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Why Not to Trust Statistics

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How to spoil someone for work (for ever more)



There were 7 reasons why you shouldn’t touch systems thinking, and here’s an 8th…

8: You might get a sniff of systemsy heaven, but then end up working in command and control hell.

Systems thinking makes no promises about being the route to a vast fortune and an enviable A-list lifestyle. However it does offer an explanation of the Alice in Wonderland unreality of a normal ordinary command and control organisation. And a method to make it better too.

However, if you’re not in charge, it doesn’t matter if you’ve gone a bit systemsy, you’ve now just got yourself a burden to carry if you end up working somewhere normal, ordinary and as rubbish as any command and control organisation.

This is the story in their own words of a ThinkPurpose reader who is in two minds about whether they should have taken the red pill…









Posted in systems thinking, systemz comix, targets | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Are you a policy fashion victim?

I’m a big fan of Nassim Taleb but clearly he’s no fan of the likes of me.
My one saving grace?  I do deadlift, 127.5kg for 6 reps, Mr Taleb.

He’s never heard of me, but he knows my type.  I’m a semi erudite bureaucrat, or hemi-demi-semi erudite more like. Seen a few Ted talks, but reads the transcripts rather than sit through the actual face talking. Dislikes PowerPoint, joined the short lived Prezi craze when every meeting made people seasick, doesn’t have Black Swan but does have Antifragile and Fooled By Randomness.


I read Nassim’s thing diatribe above with growing sadness that this time it was ME he was talking about, not economists or people who basically havent read his books and agree with him. I’ve read your books Nassim! I agree with you!
Sadly though the crucial thing is I don’t have skin in the game.
Look at where I lie on Nassim’s table…

Seeing me as an actual stereotype is really interesting. A policy fashion victim, as much prey to fads, trends and new gee-gaws as anybody.
A policy fashion victim would start seeing things being mentioned online, therefore they appear new and interesting, so they find out more, and turns out they ARE new and interesting. Little do you know that as you’re doing this, so are hundreds of other policy fashion victims, also thinking they’re finding something new and interesting, when really it’s just this year’s policy fashion. As more people see it as new and interesting, it gets pushed more and more, so it appears more and more substantial, cos everybody’s talking about it. Eventually, it becomes so obviously a new truth that it is soon forgotten if it were ever actually known in the first place that it is only a truth because everybody is talking about it.

At the moment what’s IN is demand management, big data, open data, data visualisation. Data. But not data in boring five bar gates. Policy data, data that you get from smart people and smart applications. This is like anything else in Nassim’s list above, fashionable.

So what’s the actual point of this blog post then? If we wanted to go all the way back to that grinning mucky faced boy i used to stick on the end of blog posts, what actually IS…

The Systems Thinking Lesson

Turns out it might not really matter if you’ve read the right books and agree. It might be that despite your best intentions and even better thinking, that being a semi-erudite bureaucrat is a “bad thing” in itself regardless of who occupies your post, and you should go off and do something more useful instead. You can’t get skin in the game as a bureaucrat cos you’re too far away from the game to put skin in at all. All that paper gets in the way, the system defining what a bureaucrat is and does just as much as it defines what everybody else is and does.

Anyway…Keep systems thinking and have a lovely day!

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Look around my eyes, don’t look into my eyes. LASER BEAMS come out ’em

I am trained in advanced persuasion and negotiation.
Advanced, mind.


the very definition of arched eyebrows

So much so that you really should look around my eyes, not into my eyes, cos God knows what I could do with my madd skillz in brain manipulation.
This is of course total bollox.
In my person spec, I’m supposed to have “advanced” persuasion and negotiation skillz, and I have had training in these Jedi style dark arts.
It wasn’t bad, I’ve forgotten most it now, but I remember not hating it which is a success for me and training.
People like me, Policy Officers, are expected to be able to communicate usefully with people. In fact I personally expect that any human being employed should be able to communicate.

But as with so many things in work, when I turn my beady systemsy eye to this, I can see the command and control assumption lying limply beneath it.

Just a command and control assumption. Not some kind of a GHOST, don’t be silly

As a policy officer, it’s my job to try and get other people to do things that if they thought about them for a bit, and had any say it in it, they wouldn’t do at all.
Filling in forms for me, implementing some kind of performance hoo-ha, sending me things.

The policy officer is often an implementer of new frameworks or ways of doing things, such as this year’s latest transformational programme. So if they are some kind of a Don Draper they can soil themselves in an alcoholic stupor sell this to the bemused masses with their advanced skillz.

This is because decisions come from higher up the pointy end, trickle down to the likes of me, and I have to persuade busy people doing possibly useful things to stop doing them and do this instead.

I think this is the wrong way round.

Instead of requiring the ability to sell something to somebody, organisations should be training people to resist persuasion instead. Train them in anti-persuasion. The ability to resist nonsense.

Staff should be trained in how to listen, evaluate, come to a conclusion and if necessary reject what it is some corporate goon is coming to foist on them.
This would mean that the job of anybody in an organisation would be to think for themselves.
This is a bit of a radical departure from the current set up, where the thinking happens somewhere else…Capture

So what would this look like? Total chaos?
No, instead of random opinions fighting it out in a nightmarish Darwinian arena where the most plausible survive, instead people would be required to work out what would work in reality, not in opinion
They should be taught how to experiment, how to learn, and ultimately to find out what works.

Instead of who’s opinion wins, reality wins. It always does in the end anyway.



Posted in experiment, plausible, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments