RSS Blog
  • It Just Works: Taking Life for Granted July 19, 2017
    I am writing this piece on a Eurostar train, travelling at well over 100 miles an hour, heading to Paris for a meeting about railways. The train is drawing electricity, my laptop is running on batteries, charged from a socket in my hotel room, my phone likewise. Had I brought the cables I could be […]
  • The Paradoxical Black Swan in the Overgrowth June 16, 2017
      Taleb argues that we can only recognize ‘black swan’ events retrospectively. Perhaps though we can understand the conditions that create the potential for such events and, by testing those conditions, tempt the black swan to reveal itself in the obscuring overgrowth. Can we perhaps lure the black swan into revealing itself by understanding the […]
  • Process Performance Management: the Basis of Improvement June 3, 2017
    Visiting a secure site recently (State of alert: Heightened) I was subjected to the standard process: produce photographic proof of identity; fill in form (who am I, who am I here to see, why); photograph taken; ‘escorted’ identity pass produced; vehicle pass produced. Collected by my Escort (not previously met), we set off into the […]
  • The Egg Thief May 11, 2017
      Staying in a hotel in France, breakfast was a self-service affair. One morning, I placed two eggs in the boiler and returned to my seat to wait for them to cook. As I watched the eggs from a distance, another guest rose from her seat, approached the egg boiler and took ‘my’ eggs. Being […]
  • Don’t ‘Take note of my feedback’ Act on it! January 20, 2017
      A little while ago, James Robbins, now Group CIO at Drax Group, said to me: ’John, I enjoy reading your blogs but does nothing good ever happen in your world?’ Well of course it does but in general those good things are less interesting to write and read about. A headline reading ‘All is […]
  • Toddler Steps in Change Management January 2, 2017
    The increase in the rate of change in the business environment and our organisations means that we must be able to solve problems, challenges, issues at least as fast as they arise. Things don’t then get worse! Stafford Beer1 suggested in 1974 that: ‘The relaxation time of the system is not geared to the current […]
  • The Productivity Spotlight: Planks and Splinters November 29, 2016
    Working with numerous organisations in public, private and third sectors and across manufacturing, utilities and services I am increasingly struck by the extent to which the contemporary challenge of improving productivity needs to focus more on “the management” than it does “the workers”. Productivity improvement thinking, from Adam Smith (pin makers), through Frederick Taylor (pig […]
  • Don’t Reduce your Costs…… September 25, 2016
    ………Improve your Processes. The costs of any organization, setting aside fraud, incompetence and stupidity, are largely a function of its processes (and adherence to them or not). The costs further reflect the supporting technology, the application of people’s skills and behaviours and, critically, the management attitude, i.e. the balance of autonomy and constraint as expressed […]
  • ICIF – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose July 31, 2016
    This blog was written for the ICIF website but as is the way of things technological that is having a few hiccups so we are publishing here. Because it is a month since the original drafting I have taken the opportunity to refresh the content a little – the italicized words. Feel free to enjoy […]
  • What Aristotle can teach us about Service Quality June 6, 2016
    The early quality movement from the 1940s adopted manufacturing process control techniques enabling consistent, reliable, standardised output. Great benefits are derived from that approach and with the shift towards service industries effort has been made to achieve similar benefits by ‘doing quality’ in services. Notwithstanding the valiant efforts of some (in particular John Oakland and […]