Category Archives: learning

The 2,500 year old lesson everybody ignores cos it’s too hard

Harold MacMillan was once asked, what is most likely to blow governments off course, he replied… Events dear boy, events. And events is what organisations continue to believe will change things, events meaning one off things that happen. When they … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, change, command and control, learning, systems thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity OR Why webstats don’t exist

I’ve been learning how to get data on our website usage from Google Analytics. It’s very hard, both cos Google Analytics front end  is so badly designed and cos you need to learn how websites work. There’s lots of different … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, data, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

We’re number 2! We’re number 2! Yay us! Now who’s US exactly?

About a month or so ago I started getting loooaads of traffic for a really old post from when the blog was still good. This one was about 4 German words we should all use, which is why it was … Continue reading

Posted in communication, learning, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Is this true?

Every organisation is a learning organisation. It’s just that most aren’t very good at it at all. Yes, I said it. A learning organisation is just any organisation, whether it chooses to learn how to get better at pursuing its … Continue reading

Posted in learning, systems thinking, very short posts | Tagged , | 21 Comments

How to learn Kung Fu in 1 easy step

Q: How do you learn Kung Fu? A: Attend a 1 hour training session in Kung Fu. Hey presto…. April Fool! That won’t work, if you want to know Kung Fu you’d have to train for years. One hour will do … Continue reading

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Give it away for FREE!

Imagine you go to a bus-stop and take out a ten pound note and shout to the people waiting…. Everybody will think you’re mad and ignore you. Now imagine you took that £10 and posted it through your neighbour’s letterbox. … Continue reading

Posted in communication, customer, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I don’t know much about control charts (but I know what I like)

I’ve never been trained in using control charts, never passed a test or worked with anyone who’s knowledgeable in them. Everything I’ve learned has been off of the Internet Or books, books as well, they’re famously good for learning. Cunninghams Law … Continue reading

Posted in data, deming, information, learning, measures, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What fresh hell is THIS?

No fresh hell sweetie. Just the latest incarnation of a stale and very familiar hell. Do you recognise this… yawning at yet another exactly-the-same organisational transformation? wiping sleep out of your eyes at yet another whizz-bang IT venture that’ll save lots … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

The Zinn Principle

We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed … Continue reading

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

How to write a report (part two)

Remember last week’s post told you all about How To Write A Report? To write a lush report you’ve got to remember not to just report numbers and facts but actually do some analysing because… The purpose of analysis is … Continue reading

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People rate opinion over reality, cos reality’s all facts and that

I was in a training room recently, with a bunch of people from around the council, and it was very dispiriting Because there wasn’t a lot to fill the time in, there were lots of STORIES being regailed to the room from … Continue reading

Posted in human brains are weird, learning, psychology | Tagged , , ,

How to do a SWOT

In the most strategic of rooms in my building, I found an agenda on a flipchart. It is not exceptional, it is typical. This probably happens in your building. This is how decisions are made…. *the photo is real **the words … Continue reading

Posted in communication, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

You are not a dog

I am not a dog. You are probably not a dog. So if you aren’t a dog why do you need…training? I was doing some work with a service and before we had even started gathering data, the number one … Continue reading

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

Lesson learned

This is a fellow onion. Look how sad she is. We’d just finished, or rather abandoned, a project, so decided to do a lessons learned exercise. These are specific lessons we learnt during the work and what we wrote on … Continue reading

Posted in knowledge, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I’m not at my desk right now

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

onionwords

The most important things should be able to be boiled down into a few words. Or less.

Posted in communication, learning, systems thinking | Tagged | 1 Comment

How to get skin in your game

Regular readers will be shrugging at the easiness of this quiz, but the rest of you… Is it Eric the scavenger? He is black, poor and the only one with a roof above his head that is made of corrugated … Continue reading

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Why pink is a girls colour

A philosophy club is starting soon at my son’s school. For 5 weeks, for one hour after lessons they will… “have the opportunity to think outside the box and explore new ideas that they may not have the chance to … Continue reading

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What is a Googleplex?

This letter appeared on the internet in 2006. [Snopes, the bible of internet myths, says it’s truthfulness is undetermined. But just because it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it’s not true.] A few months ago I told my 9 year old … Continue reading

Posted in learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

How do YOU waste time at work?

1: Performance manage at the strategic level What is said: “We performance manage at a higher level, conversations happen between senior leaders where we challenge delivery of outcomes, and identify where performance is slipping” What actually happens: Managers gossip about … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, learning, public sector, setting a numerical target is like..., statistics, systemz comix, targets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to get it

Has she got it? Well, has she? This is what I’ve heard people ask, if someone has got it or not. Meaning systems thinking. Of course. It’s not like getting the measles, I know that, but I’ve been puzzled for … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, me doing it, systems thinking in housing benefits, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Who’s the cynic?

What’s worse? A dreamer or a cynic? Seth Godin posted his answer to that question last week. And got it all wrong.. So wrong, that here it is in full. Let’s see what he has to say… The selfish cynic … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, psychology, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Learning is a thing

Today I learnt that… Nope, it’s gone.

Posted in deming, knowledge, learning, questions, systems thinking, very short posts | Tagged , | 1 Comment

3 word Deming

I found this sorry article left in a meeting room. As you can see, not much progress had been made. Flip charts in meeting rooms are brilliant evidence of the thinking that was in the room. Imagine that is you … Continue reading

Posted in deming, learning, questions, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Is Big Data a pile of cack?

80% of  conclusions drawn from Big Data are incorrect.[link] The UK government is investing £64 million in Big Data. [link] I was fooled by Big Data,  you don’t have to be. Here is my story. Years ago I worked in an … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, data, learning, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , | 8 Comments

What happens when targets die?

Tell someone that targets don’t work, and it’s like telling them someone had just died. In a way it has, a small bit of their mind has ceased to be, the bit that made sense of work and how it … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, systems thinking, systemz comix, targets | 9 Comments

Lazy managers make hungry children

Managers working in the public sector are starving poor people because they are too lazy to bother picking up a book. Yes, I said that. The above graph shows the reasons why people are turning to food banks because they … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, learning, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Book learning

Which one? Pick one.

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How to keep bad ideas dead and buried

Why does this old cemetery have such high thick walls? Why does it have a barred gate? With a lock on it? What’s inside that they are they trying to keep inside? Whatever’s buried here they really wanted to stay … Continue reading

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

Meet friction, your abrasive friend.

I was blind, so had to be led to the sink by the man in the gas mask. He held my left hand expertly, not gingerly but with a tightness that told me he was in charge and I could … Continue reading

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

How to start a library of dead ideas

A great big Nazi bomb couldn’t scare these gents off their knowledge. But you wouldn’t need a bomb in most organisations. Not because people don’t like knowledge, but because you need a memory to have knowledge.  Memory and knowledge aren’t about memorising lists of facts, like … Continue reading

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5 harsh truths you’ll wish you’d learnt earlier

Entirely understandable but…epic fail. No need to give up your own thoughts and copy everyone else’s! Inspired by this, and copying this virtually to the letter, here are “5 harsh truths you need to learn so you can live with your … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | 2 Comments

Kettle meet pot

I got an email from Vanguard today about some work they’ve done with O2. Full of the usual interesting stuff about concentrating on purpose and making it easier for customers to get what they want from you. have you ever … Continue reading

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A cheap notebook

This notebook could save your bacon Here’s why [link] Daniel Kahneman was asked how we can improve our performance. Kahneman, the author of Thinking: Fast and Slow, replied, almost without hesitation, that you should go down to the local drugstore … Continue reading

Posted in learning, me doing it, plans, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Graphic content

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3 things you will never find on a lessons learned report

In Prince2 it is best practice to conduct a Lessons Learned Exercise for the Lessons Learned Log to go into the Lessons Learned Report. I find it is much more useful to conduct a Lessons Not Learned Exercise. It’s far … Continue reading

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Drip..drip…drip

“Just rang for a taxi – had an automated system in saying do you want to be picked up from X. Which I did so pressed 1….20 mins later no taxi so I rang them. Woman says ‘did you use … Continue reading

Posted in Demand, learning, me doing it, psychology, very short posts | Tagged | Leave a comment

The astronaut answers

Remember this? The correct answer is……it falls to the ground. The answers you gave are below. 70% of you are correct! Well done! There is gravity on the moon, it is just weaker than on earth as the moon has … Continue reading

Posted in learning, questions, thinking | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Marx Matrix in your office

Red silly! That’s why you’re here. Pursuing the truth that lies behind the assumed surface of work seems a lot like being in the film The Matrix at times. These comments mention red pills and that. And so do other … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, human brains are weird, learning, psychology, systems thinking | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

ROLL UP! ROLL UP! Get your untested management assumptions here! People don’t like to think they’ve been made fools of. So they don’t think they’ve been made fools of, even when they have. And especially if they made fools of … Continue reading

Posted in change, learning, me doing it, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , | 2 Comments

101 tactics for revolutionaries

You say you want a revolution, well you know we all want to change the world. John Lennon sang that, now I’m writing this. 101 tactics for low level, cubicle-dwelling systems thinkers. You’ve had the strategy, now here are your … Continue reading

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Win the argument, lose the sale

[Image by acb.]

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Grow your own Performance Management Officer

I went to see my 9 year olds school work at his school this week, much to my dismay I found they were training him up to work in Performance Management. This is what he is learning. This is a … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, communication, learning, public sector | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Here’s one I didn’t prepare earlier.

[EDIT] Big screens only for this one it appears, sadly the image doesn’t display properly on my iPhone screen so may not on yours either. [EDIT EDIT] Exciting news! If you’re looking at this on an iPhone or other inferior … Continue reading

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Curious?

“be curious read widely try new things what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity” aaron swartz (1986-2013)

Posted in knowledge, learning, questions, very short posts | Tagged | 3 Comments

5 things I’ve actually been told off for at work

5 things I have actually been told off for that could only happen in a command and control organisation. Saying “I don’t know“ Asking “What’s the purpose of this report I am writing?“ Saying “I don’t understand“ Sending around the … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, systems thinking, thinking | 17 Comments

Give me the child

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I am Spartacus! And so’s my wife!

This year I came out. Lots of people knew I was that way inclined and in front of them I didn’t have to hide, but I wasn’t totally out. To some people I pretended and in some circumstances I pretended. There was … Continue reading

Posted in change, learning, me doing it, systems thinking | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Knowledge is not Opinion

If I’ve learned anything at work, it’s that work isn’t much a place for learning. There’s plenty more in other places that go into whys and wherefores of this. Both me complaining and others explaining. This isn’t about that. But specifically… Whatever … Continue reading

Posted in experiment, knowledge, learning, systems thinking | Tagged | 4 Comments

An open letter to corporate colleagues EVERYWHERE!

Hi! Do you work in the corporate part of the public sector? The bit in the middle that is often called Chief Executives Directorate, or Organisational Services and changes its name every two years? Me too! You’re probably worried about … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, thinking | Tagged | 3 Comments