Intelligent Emergency Care


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 […]

Hidden Waste – revisited


Continuing my thread from early October on this theme, I thought I would share another example. This morning I received this email (lightly edited for the protection of the perpetrators – they should not be publicly humiliated – yet!). Dear all, We are currently checking that all of our contact detail and email preferences are […]

Customer Service


Customer (Self-)Service – No, not JUST me! In response to my last blog – so at least one person reads them or, perhaps more accurately on at least one occasion at least one person read at least one blog – I received this: “John, are you sure you don’t set these kind of occasions up??? […]

Hidden Waste


 A short(ish) blog this week –and, for reasons that will become clear, please don’t print it! I was invited by a University Professor (UP) to give a talk to Masters Students on the subject of Intelligent Organisation. Travelling by car I asked that a parking space be held for me – parking being notoriously difficult […]

Knowing WHAT and WHY is not the same as Knowing HOW


I have recently been talking with people apparently keen, eager and authorised to lead significant change in their organisations but with the process stalled. In each case the person has a clear explanation of the problem (usually a performance issue such as too little income and too much cost or a failure to achieve the […]

Purpose as Enacted Identity: We are what we do?


The purpose of an organisation is often understood as the fulfilment of a market need through the provision of a product or service. Achievement though is most commonly measured and reported by reference to short term maximisation of shareholder value (profit). This difference may lead to dysfunctional decisions – doing things to satisfy the measurement […]

Artificially Intelligent Reasoning and Human Responsibility


  I have recently been involved in exploring the application of what is widely called artificial intelligence or, more appropriately for the most part, machine learning (that is, computers programmed to learn, recognise and respond to patterns) to some of the challenges that confront us in modern nations. In describing the emergence of contemporary cybernetics […]

Purposeful and Effective?


  The end of the previous blog suggested that productivity and efficiency are functions of effectiveness, that is they are not absolute but are relative measures and the idea they are relative to is that of the ‘purpose’ of the organisation. Some of you then contacted me asking ‘what do you mean, purpose?’ Organisations, are […]

‘Busy’ and ‘productive’ are not the same thing! Explained as requested.


  Following your various responses to my previous blog, I shall attempt an explanation………. To be busy is to fill the day with activity, any activity……….. To be productive is to undertake activity that makes the product or provides the service………. To be busy AND productive is to fill the day with activity that makes […]

Are the Sprouts On? ‘Busy’ and ‘productive’ are not the same thing!


It is often reckoned that the biggest challenge in cooking is that of producing Christmas dinner. This is not because the cooking is difficult: Rule 1: Apply heat to foodstuffs; Rule 2: Remove from heat before foodstuffs turn black…… …………. but because delivering all the not-blackened foodstuffs onto multiple plates simultaneously requires a well planned […]

The Internet of People: A Dumb-Smart Paradox


Authors: John Beckford1 Prof. Peter Kawalek2 Richard Berry3  The Internet of Things and its autonomous device derivatives will doubtless nurture creativity within many sectors. Algorithms will be developed to determine how machines will interact directly with other machines, and with individuals and multi-cyborgs (teams or organisations comprising of both devices and people). These interactions will […]

It Just Works: Taking Life for Granted


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


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 drivers […]

Process Performance Management: the Basis of Improvement


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


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 British […]

Don’t ‘Take note of my feedback’ Act on it!


  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


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


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……


………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


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 […]