Category Archives: thinking

3 reasons why I hate pretty graphs

People prefer the pretty guy over the uglier guy cos they like pretty things more than they like things that are right. For over a decade I’ve been working in an area where the obsession has been about finding just … Continue reading

Posted in data, measures, statistics, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 7 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

One more time… Why values are a pile of cobbler’s

This month I’m going to be handed a piece of paper with the Organisation’s​ new “Values and behaviours”, in my annual performance review. So this means what I value and how I behave will change once I read what they’re … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, psychology, thinking | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

I openly mock Myers Briggs, but an INTP would do

Remember the ThinkPurpose team role quiz? Well, turns out I was a racoon. But ignoring all the distastefulness of categorising people into 16 types in a Buzzfeed style quiz based on bleeding JUNGIAN ARCHETYPES, let’s… Oh, hang on…I CAN’T ignore this idiocy. … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, human brains are weird, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

Looking good, Billy Ray!

This is a systems thinking blog. There’s a type of systems thinking I don’t mention here called Soft Systems Methodology, or SSM. I’ve never actually used it as a method, not out loud and proud. But the key word is … Continue reading

Posted in change, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

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 … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 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. 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 … Continue reading

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

The 1 thing nobody has ever said about a scorecard (and the 7 things they often do)

What people often say about scorecards 1. This colour symbol is wrong, shouldn’t it be a green? 2. Why isn’t that an up arrow? 3. There’s a spelling mistake in the comments 4. The formatting is slightly off. Needs more … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, measures, purpose, questions, systems thinking, targets, thinking | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

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

Service Level Agreement- 3 little lies

A Service Level Agreement sounds so reasonable. Eminently reasonable. It sets out explicitly what will be done for a customer. A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider (either internal or external) and the end user … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m a glittering generality!

I have a job! A proper job which pays taxes, but I’m no hard working taxpayer. This is not because I’m bone idle, though I am, but because “hard working taxpayers” don’t exist. There are people who work hard at a job, … Continue reading

Posted in communication, plans, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Naughty…but nice

Say the phrase “Command and control management” out loud. Doesn’t sound nice does it? What do you think when you hear it? Things like… Call centre staff told to poo on their own time. Hospital patients dying to meet hospital targets. … Continue reading

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

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

Miss Universe and who’s to blame

Miss Colombia was crowned Miss Universe 2015! And THEN a few minutes later, the tiara was removed from her head, the sash from her shoulders and put on Miss Philippines. Miss Philippines was now Miss Universe instead of poor Miss … Continue reading

Posted in human brains are weird, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to write a report (part one)

Hi! If you’re anything like me, you’re an office drone who types for a living. It isn’t as important as making things or healing people, but it IS a living. One of the main tasks of modern-day typists like me is … Continue reading

Posted in communication, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Not one reply

Exactly a week ago I invited readers to send in their own stories about how offering data, creating normative learning opportunities and plain nagging had resulted in some type of systemsy incident. That it is possible to create change upwards … Continue reading

Posted in change, deming, leadership, psychology, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged | 24 Comments

250,000 ways to be a management consultant

Tomorrow my blog should hit a quarter of a million views. Yay me. This actually means nothing at all. It’s an arbitrary number that allows me to use the word “million” and thus transfer some glamour onto the act of … Continue reading

Posted in public sector, strategic, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , | 27 Comments

When I hear the word “values”… I reach for my gin

That man was a Nazi, and this blog has no truck with that, but I have a similar reaction to talk of organisational culture, in particular, values I don’t get values. I think they’ve been spoiled for me by too … Continue reading

Posted in change, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The evolution of the error

For the past two years or so you’ve been getting bills from npower for gas. But you’ve had no gas supply in your flat for about 20 years when you had the boiler and meter taken out, and your heating … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , | 3 Comments

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

The loneliest whale in the world.

Meet the loneliest whale in the world. She doesn’t speak the same language as other whales so they can’t hear her. This is the same as systemsy talking. Once your mental model changes from stupid ol’ command and control to … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, communication, human brains are weird, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to create phonecalls you don’t want

Step 1: Do something that doesn’t solve the customer’s problem for them. Step 2: Err… that’s it. A fellow onion informs me of the fantastic efforts of a Government benefits department to create phonecalls from nothing. The department has to pay … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , ,

Why the [insert favourite] sector is best

This is Michael Portillo on my telly five minutes ago on BBC1 TV programme “This Week” speaking complete… He was talking about a revolting scandal in a hospital that came to light. In a hospital midwives who were infatuated with … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , ,

The meeting room rules

This meeting room is only in my head. But the rules are very strict regardless.

Posted in experiment, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged ,

Fedoras and other hallmarks of failure

Have you noticed the HUGE amount of men in their 20s and 30s who wear Fedoras? A fedora is a hat that Humphrey Bogart or Indiana Jones wears. However the typical fedora wearer these days looks more like this… As Urban Dictionary … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, systems thinking, thinking, tools, vanguard method | Tagged , ,

Why targets are good

Targets are good. They work. Comparing this quarters performance with last quarters, is good. It works Benchmarking performance against a group of other organisations, is good. That works too. Calm down! Let’s go back a bit…. Q: What’s the first … Continue reading

Posted in data, systems thinking, targets, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

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

The Highlander principle

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will … Continue reading

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

Mordecai and Rigby clear up a few common misconceptions

Performance Management doesn’t manage performance. Distance from the work doesn’t provide senior leaders with a strategic view. Distance provides distance. Signing off reports does not ensure quality. It ensures they are slightly worse. Not doing the right thing because “we’ve … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, systems thinking, systemz comix, thinking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The one thing you never see on an improvement plan

You don’t have a performance management problem. You don’t have a staff engagement problem. You don’t have a data quality problem. You don’t have a budget problem. You don’t have a culture problem. You don’t have a risk management problem. You … Continue reading

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

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

Posted in command and control, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Stay safe, stay stupid

THANKS ZOMBIE DEMING! Enough of systems thinking, let’s talk stupid. Stupid is normally easy to spot. It’s walking into doors, slipping over banana skins and the like. But what happens if “stupid” is so normal, that nobody notices it? What … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

How to NAIL it!

You read a management book about the latest thing. It makes out you can do all-sorts of wondrous things like this… But when you try and do it in your workplace it doesn’t quite turn out like it did in … Continue reading

Posted in change, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

On the internet nobody knows you are a Policy Officer

A few months ago I got an email from Seth Godin, world famous internet man. This week  Nassim Taleb, sent me a tweet, the guy who predicted the 2008 economic crash. I am a Policy Expert nobody, and Seth and … Continue reading

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

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 to measure a meeting

I’ve been in a meeting today! How can I tell how successful the meeting was? Measure it! With numbers! -it was held in room 42 -it lasted 75 minutes -there were 10 people -there was 1 PowerPoint -I ate 2 … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, thinking | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

How to achieve immortality in one easy step

Do you want to be remembered in your workplace? Want to be talked about when you’ve gone as that person who…? Here’s how in one easy step. Step one… 1: Do work that helps the end customer That’s it. Whether … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to be a Policy Expert

I’m a Policy Expert! YOU TOO can be a Policy Expert if you follow these simple steps! Step 0: DON’T follow what other Policy Experts do. Most self-proclaimed Policy Experts write up policies, they don’t change things so that policy … Continue reading

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

4 ways job interviews ruin organisations

1. They encourage people to pretend to be someone they are not “Lie to us well enough, and your in”, is the very first message a prospective employee receives. This is not a healthy way to start any type of … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, John Seddon, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , | 9 Comments

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

Head-smashed-in buffalo jump

Yes, you read right. Head-smashed-in buffalo jump. For 6,000 years in North America the Blackfoot tribe ate, dressed and made their homes with bison that fell to their deaths at some cliffs called Head-smashed-in Buffalo jump The bison were not … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Think Data

Here is Seth telling it how it is. “presenting information […] in a way that allows people to hear and see and think, is one of the most powerful tools available to people who’d like to make change. It’s far more … Continue reading

Posted in plausible, questions, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Welcome to Work Club!

It is your first day at work. You are wearing your interview suit, slightly nervous. You sign lots of forms, then eventually are shown to your new desk. Lying on top of your computer’s keyboard is a single sheet of … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

What goes all the way down?

Ho, ho, ho! But stop! This can be very serious indeed. Ever asked someone why something is being done, and they’ve replied by pointing to something somewhere else, some plan? They’re just turtles too! No, it doesn’t happen. But people pretend … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged | Leave a comment

Book learning

Which one? Pick one.

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

Why I care about systems thinking

If I worked in a real job I mightn’t care, as I’d have the job to care about so I might never have got interested. But I don’t, so I did. My job is promoting and implementing an incorrect theory. … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged | 3 Comments

6 things Local Government gets wrong about you

1: It thinks you care most about big projects Name several things you care about your Council doing right. It might be making sure the roads aren’t full of pot-holes. Or keeping your street free of litter and graffiti. Perhaps … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, public sector, thinking | 1 Comment

Goodbye ICT, you’re already dead

There was a ruckus earlier between me and ICT. There was an “engagement exercise” where they came to my floor on a specific day and time, for us to “see how they work” and for them to give us “tips … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, inspection, public sector, thinking | Tagged , | 38 Comments

Why listening beats questions 6 ways to Sunday

Q: What is the difference between asking questions and listening? A: One isn’t the same as the other, and neither is both. Yesterday I was taking my turn, as a good natured Policy Officer, asking staff about the draft council … Continue reading

Posted in me doing it, questions, thinking | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The curse of positivity

I don’t mind optimism. I love joy-in-work. Fun is down right enjoyable. But I can’t stand positivity. I reserve a special place in my systems thinking Hell for the use of the word “positive” to describe things approved of in … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking, thinking | Tagged | 3 Comments