A master of uncertainty was John Boyd, a Lt.Col in the US air Force, and the greatest strategist few people have heard of. A maverick Genius. Fighter pilot, engineer, philosopher, physicist.

He had a way of thinking about things, the OODA loop. 

Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action. And repeat. Faster than the speed of change you’re in.

A good model for this time.


These are strange times. We’ve left where were were at the beginning of the year, and not yet at all clear where we will end up. Disorienting

This interregnum, junction, bifurcation, liminal space has not not been caused by some person, or government even if it would be easier for some, keen to allocate blame, if it was. 

We’re in the middle, but we don’t have to be stuck. We have to join the dots. Understand perhaps why we’re here in the middle, and move forwards. We cannot after all go back.

The rules and habits we’ve been using, often without thought, have become dislocated. The morning commute, the expensive coffee grabbed on the way, the crush, the office, timetables. Outsourcing the care of our children during the day.

If you’re a landlord, or in a part of the economy that relies on traffic and habit – coffee shops, fast food, free papers, this is a major challenge.

Meetings by Zoom. What used to be an adjunct now gone mainstream, and working better the more we get used to it. 

A corner of the house or flat to work from. Spending more time with those we normally see for on only a few hours a day. Spending far more time with ourselves.

Leadership, Management, Processes. All dislocated.

It feels a little like Schroedinger’s cat. A way of life neither alive nor dead. 

Alice in Wonderland. Believing at least six impossible things before breakfast.

The Matrix. Red Pill or Blue Pill?


Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Teddy Roosevelt

In the middle , where we are, time is different. 

We’re used to Kronos time – the time of calendars, budgets and plans. That clock is still ticking, but it’s not the one we need to be concerned with. It will look after itself.

The time that we should be paying attention to is Kairos time. Timing, not time. The point at which we throw the shuttle into the loom so it will make the journey to the other side, and not get caught. The point of contact between bat and ball. 

The point at which we change direction on how we live, how we work, and decide what matters.

We have a choice. We can try to turn the old normal, with all its underlying dynamics, into some sort of normal 1.1. Treat Covid as a bump in the road. Manage the debt, support the business ethics and models that have got us to the current state of inequality and unsustainability.

Or we can drive through this, harnessing the disruption Covid has brought about to think differently. To respect the path, the processes and practices that have got us to here, but as gently as we can (and it might not be gentle) retire them. They, like many of their iconic leaders, have served their time. 

The ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats. “The Second Coming”

During this time, everything is possible, and the rules have changed. Our relationship with what is happening has changed. The jobs we had are gone. If you are an expert adviser to the old system, your skills are obsolescing by the day. They will be replaced by new ones which rely on our ingenuity, compassion, creativity and purpose. The qualities that make us individually unique and valuable, and collectively formidable.

It will not be easy

The powerful always defend the status quo because it is the source of their power and privilege. Any change that benefits others would destroy their position. And their position is all they care about defending. 

Margaret Wheatley “Who do we choose to be/”


Simple, and difficult. Turn round and try to swim upstream back to where we were, or to go with the flow and learn to ride the current. Try to eke out old skills, or learn new ones. To defend your place in the old hierarchy, or find a new place to stand where you can make a difference.

Neither way will be pretty, but they are different. One is exhausting, the other uncertain. Neither are guaranteed success. 

The difference between the two, our legacy.


It doesn’t get any easier. 

We all know, in our hearts, that this time is important and what we do next, now, will shape our futures, and those of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to whom we are accountable. 

We got us to here. They need to get us to there, and our job is simply to help them.

The best things we can do is be the best humans we can. Different for each of us. To take our place wherever by being the best we can be, we can do that which we are uniquely placed to do in support of those around us doing the same.

We all have a voice in the choir. Time to sing.


“To live in the midst of an era is to be oblivious to its style.”

Spring Snow. Yukio Mishima

We are undoubtedly somewhere in a period of significant transition, though it is difficult to know how far in – The Begining? The Middle? It has been said that we don’t know we’re in the middle of a revolution until it’s over.

Wherever we are in it, it’s not like we couldn’t have seen it coming in some form. If we weren’t so busy trying to understand each piece as it makes itself felt – political rumbles here, business failures there, the social failures that lead to food banks in some of the wealthiest countries in the world – and we had stood still for a moment to join the dots of these changes, we wouldn’t be so surprised. We may not have been able to be precise as to the detail of change, but the trend would have come as less of a surprise.

What if we’re only just getting started? Whilst the change we’ve been seeing can be disorienting, I suspect it’s nothing compared to what is approaching us. The compound effect of artificial intelligence and concentrated wealth together with declining natural resources and increased population makes for a heady mix.

“When hierarchy is the order of the day, you are only as powerful as your rung on the organisational ladder of a state, corporation or similar vertically ordered institution. When networks gain an advantage, you can be as powerful as your position in one or more horizontally structured social groups”

The Square and the Tower. Niall Ferguson.

We are well into an age of networks, but only just beginning to see their power – not the populist stuff of social media, but of radical ideas and shared purpose.

This pattern has occured throughout history – periods of relative stability based on a currency of the time (from animals, to people, to land, to capital) interspersed by periods of rapid change as we transitioned from one to another.

In an age of networks, the power of a business sits at the front line, where the company meets the customer – in person, on line, or by reputation. Trying to operate the traditional hierarchy system most of us have been taught at business school, and in established companies is increasingly futile, and it changes everything.

Concepts like leadership and engagement become not desirable, but critical to survival. Awareness of the wider environment crucial, and the ability to think systemically, about second order effects, vital.

And the timing is now.

Waiting for best practice is likely to be fatal. By the time best practice is established, we are likely to be the history that is part of its evidence base.