Freedom? From Command and Control?

OK, I freely admit it isn’t the most original of titles being a paraphrase of the title of John Seddon’s book. Now I have to admit that I have this book on my bookshelf, and I occasionally pick it up and skim, but there is something about it I can’t yet appreciate and so I remain ambivalent to it.

No, the reason for the title of this post is because at the moment I’m very much involved with looking at the future in two different, but interconnected, areas.

girl-future-cityFirstly  I am doing some work on the skills we will need in the future for delivering IT in partnership with a gentleman called Rajeev Bhardwaj, by day an Enterprise Architect but also a cartoonist who keeps his artwork hidden away on his blog.

Secondly I am looking at scenarios for business models in ICT  as we increasingly use cloud services, and new ways of deriving information.

What is becoming very clear is that where responsibility lies is becoming an emergent challenge of these wider changes, but behind that simple statement lies a lot of complexity that can’t be ignored

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Is this the right room for a protest?


The purpose of a newspaper’s leader articles is to make points that the relevant editors might think could otherwise be missed, and this piece entitled:

Noisy protest drowns out the truth about fracking by James Quinn in the Sunday Telegraph is no exception.

So what about it has forced me to put finger to keyboard?

Well, for me at least, I see two points that the article raises in the final paragraph, both arising from my developing practice in Systems Thinking, where I’d beg to suggest that we’ve got our thinking very mixed up now, or even just plain wrong.

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Not building a Jumbo, but a Jimbo

Having just posted up the latest “Armchair Pilot” missive, this time Joe Sutter’s book about the development of the Boeing 747, my wife reminded me of this episode of Jimbo which somehow manages to combine aircraft and computing in one easy-to-digest 5 minute delight.

Enjoy Jimbo And The Jet Set – Episode 15 – The Computer Clanger

Death to Venn Diagrams!

This post has been mulling around in my mind for a while now, but a question asked by a fellow OU Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) alumni, précised as “Are there other Systems Thinking methods are out there that we could look at?”, has encouraged me to finally put finger to keyboard.

My question in return is “What counts as a Systems Thinking approach, method or tool?”

In fact it raises the whole subject of categorisation which may have been covered on the Open University course B823: Knowledge Management, but sadly it’s no longer running and so I can’t study it having instead to scratch around this area trying to find little nuggets that might help my understanding.

Categorising things can work well when the world is pretty static but, well, that isn’t really the case these days. But it’s not just the change of things, its the change of about their properties and value to us.

Our previous IT Director used to bemoan the fact that there wasn’t a “killer app” for the Blackberry that he felt was needed to drive adoption, yet it was the device itself that had become compelling, the “killer app” if you like. I’d suggest  suspect that in his mind he was looking to classify his Blackberry under some sort of category that he had such as “It does one thing better than anything else” but hadn’t recognised that it was a category that was no longer valid.

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If not Targets, then what?

A fellow OU alumni kindly pointed us at this article in the Guardian last Friday: Payment by results – a ‘dangerous idiocy’ that makes staff tell lies written by Toby Lowe. It’s an interesting article telling us about how targets are driving the wrong behaviours, something that is frequently debated by the Systems Thinking community. My problem is that we can all agree that it is wrong, but we can’t work out what is right (the  tell-tale signs of a wicked problem)

Pieces like this bring me round to thinking that there are two key aspects to target setting which are subtly linked:

  • What problem are the targets actually trying to solve
  • What is the cost of collecting the measures

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