Reflections 15th November

Bridge at Chatsworth.

What’s on my mind

That imposing change rarely works.

The meltdown at the heart of Government makes an excellent case study. Regardless of how individually we may regard Messrs Cain and Cummings (C&C), there is no denying they were agents of change, pushing agendas on everything from the Brexit agenda to the reform of the Civil Service. In the 11 months since they were instrumental in getting Boris into Downing Street, over the bodies of MP’s and much of the truth, they are out. They stretched the rubber band of tension and kept it taught, until eventually it broke.

What interests me here is not the political issues (fascinating though they are) but the example of forced change. Change has its own rhythm, and forcing it faster than it wants to go ends messily, as here. C&C may have had personal clarity on the change they wanted to see, and a temporarily willing vehicle in a compliant Prime Minister, but without the support, or even tolerance of MP’s and Civil Servants, it was never going to deliver this side of autocracy.

So what happen’s now the rubber band has snapped? The crowing of those sidelined in the rush for change is already deafening, and the rush of people hastening back to the mediocre middle (that gave the opportunity for the change C&C wanted to see) in full flow. So here we are after a year, a pandemic and a chaotic set of Brexit negotiations on, no further forward. Heroic Leaders sat atop mediocre managers may give an inspiring message, but are going nowhere. (I thought Leandro Herrero’s blog yesterday was very appropriate)

So where, I wonder will the change go? The ideas and message crafted by C&C resonated enough to get Boris into power, and that appeal is still out there. If Boris has had to abandon it for the sake of partisan peace, will it find another host?

In the absence of a compelling and convincing new vision in the next short period, is our own Trump out there somehere, grinning at the opportunity his or her narcissism craves?

I find that a sobering thought.

What’s making me think

What are emotions? Emotions are running high right now. we could do with understanding them better. Lisa Feldman Barrat has an interesting take on them.

Genius. I’ve long had an interest in the difference between gift and genius – I even helped write a book on it. Here Arthur Jensen takes it further. A longer read, but worth it.

Agency. The idea of purpose, and whether we have one, is central to discussions about human performance, but what about cells? Thought provoking article from Aeon Magazine.

Authenticity. Why are most chatbots and AI cast as women?

A quote

Bankers and investors always talk from the outset of the need to establish an exit strategy, a way out when things go wrong. This may be why Britain is not the easiest country in the world in which to turn dreams into reality. In my view, if you really believe in something you should allow yourself only one exit strategy – death. It concentrates the mind most wonderfully. If those around you trust you, they will draw comfort from your conviction. If they don’t, you deserve to fail.

Tim Smit. Eden.

Where I’m focusing

To make the change we want to see, we need agency. Most of us can only start by changing a few others, despite what socual media would have us think. If we can only change a few people in pursuit of something important, who do we choose? I’m working on that.

I’ve put together a simple website as somewhere to focus.

Have a great week.

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