Blog

Q: What is cybernetics?

2021-11-30

A: The study of self-managing systems. Any system, to be considered cybernetic, must manage itself in an environment towards an outcome (a goal or objective), i.e. it must have integral capability to recognise and respond to the gap between its actual position or condition and its desired position or condition. Examples: A regulator on a […]

A Doctor Calls: A Treatment for Efficiency

2021-08-09

An email to the local medical practice to request medical advice produced a response advising to ‘call at 0800 for an appointment with your doctor’. Called, waited a few minutes, selected appropriate option, 20-minute wait to be placed in a second queue. Machine: ‘Press 1 followed by the # key to speak to a doctor’ […]

Behind the Facade: Check your Perceptions

2021-05-15

A friend of mine, semi-retired and financially comfortable had been constructively using his time up a scaffolding tower and roof ladders repairing some loose roof tiles on his son’s house. Task finished early and with the son still working he left his trailer and Range Rover on the drive and, wearing the clothes he had […]

The Obvious is Not Always Obvious

2021-04-10

Received this from a friend and thought it worth sharing: My mobile phone bills keep getting sent to my old address, forwarded by the post office service we have in place. I have told the mobile provider that I have moved and given them the new address, however the bills keep going to the old […]

Opening Doors

2021-03-09

Apr 2014 Originally published on Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics website While thinking about this post I enjoyed a conversation with my adult sons about the nature and use of organisational power. The conversation considered markets and their failures, the impact of dominant actors in those markets and the often distorting effects of […]

An Intelligent Nation? Covid, Cybernetics and Systems Thinking

2021-02-24

In this guest blog, Catherine Lawes offers a personal perspective on Covid 19, vaccines and vaccination considered as a system. I took my mother to have her Covid vaccine on a bitterly cold evening in mid-January. While I waited in the car, I thought about the pandemic, the incredible scientific work to get to a […]

What a difference a Dave makes! Or a Rita or Bert (with apologies to Dinah)

2020-12-19

The vicissitudes of 2020 have greatly accelerated the pace of adoption of virtual and digital means of interaction with not just family and friends but colleagues and suppliers. Online shopping has substantially increased and, in the UK at least, a number of retailers that were struggling before the pandemic have closed shops or closed down. […]

Out Damned SPAD: The Reassertion of Democracy (with apologies to the Bard)

2020-12-06

I was pleased when Messrs Cummings and Cain departed Downing Street recently. This was not because of anything they had done, not done, believed in or not believed in during the period of their appointments as advisers at our expense but because they were not accountable to the electorate in whose name, through government, they […]

Covid-19: Reasons to be cheerful, pt 4 (with apologies to Ian Dury)

2020-12-02

In 2016 in a blog titled ‘Don’t Reduce your Costs’ I wrote: “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, […]

Covid Positive

2020-10-19

I don’t wish to downplay the substantial damage and loss caused by the Covid pandemic, but I don’t much wish to write about it either. Many have lost much – relatives, friends, livelihoods, homes, either through Covid itself or the systemic consequences of related restrictions. Let us, for this piece, simply acknowledge that. As I […]

Don’t do it cheap, do it right!

2020-08-15

There was a joyful moment in our house today when a phone call via an automated system to resolve a bank card failure led to a conversation with a helpful human being (just press * in this instance) who resolved the problem immediately. (I know, don’t I usually start with a whinge?) The moment of […]

Why Cybernetics Still Matters

2020-08-01

(Originally presented as a short address to a forum hosted by the Cybernetics Society on 15th July 2020) There is a continuing crisis in the governance of our public, private and 3rd sector organisations which, looked at coldly, exhibit reluctance to change and inability to invest (either because they don’t have the money or can’t […]

Intelligence Led Universities

2020-06-29

I heard this week, not for the first time and I am absolutely sure not for the last, of UK universities seeking volunteers for redundancy with the expressed hope of avoiding compulsory job losses. These proposals are, ostensibly, driven by the expected loss of revenue associated with the down turn in student numbers, particularly from […]

Covid-19: The Necessity of Evolving Wisdom

2020-04-29

I have previously confessed to spending a little too much time acquiring information from diverse sources. However, after one exposition on a well-known mainstream news channel I realised that I actually knew less after the programme than I did at the start. Stories about Covid-19 from all over the world have a multiplicity of platforms, […]

Solving COVID-19: Eliminate the Impossible

2020-04-19

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative And latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mister In-Between” (Johnny Mercer) When a massively disruptive event perturbs any highly ordered system the lack of agility in that system inevitably stimulates a range of responses which can best be characterised as “thrashing about”. That is […]

Covid-19: Don’t Look Back in Anger, Managing the Mess

2020-04-07

I have thought in the last two blogs about life beyond the current situation, but engaging with other researchers, keeping up with published research and absorbing slightly more news and social media than is really healthy, I am triggered to think about how we might manage and modify our expectations during the crisis. We are […]

Rethinking BAU Beyond the Crisis: Retain, Refine, Restore, Reflect

2020-04-02

It is already clear that the Covid-19 Pandemic will have a long tail impact. Even if current constrained conditions for many of us are relaxed it looks like it will be some time before accustomed freedoms are fully attainable and perhaps a year or more before business is back to pre-crisis levels – if ever […]

Coronavirus Covid-19: The Transformational Upside?

2020-03-16

It is Louis Pasteur who is reported as saying that “Chance favours the prepared mind” and if today Covid-19 all looks like downside risk is that really the case? How might the pandemic be turned to advantage? Government responses and the guidance given to citizens will be critical in the management, spread and amelioration of […]

Intelligent Nation©: If No 3rd runway then what?

2020-03-04

A judicial review has found that the UK government did not follow its own policy in relation to environmental factors in making the decision to allow development of a 3rd runway at Heathrow. This decision has generated both much celebration by the opponents and much wringing of hands and prognostications of the end of the […]

Intelligent Emergency Care

2020-02-11

Dr. Charles House, Medical Director, Medicine Clinical Board, University College London Hospital (UCLH) Driving quality and performance improvement through a reflective cycle is to measure actual performance against a capability, understand the gap and then adjust the inputs (be they skills, materials, tasks or processes) at the next iteration or cycle, in order to close […]