Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Don’t do it cheap, do it right!


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


(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


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


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


“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


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


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?


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?


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


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 […]

Educational performance – plus ça change…. Dr Peter Dudley April 2014


Educational performance – plus ça change….

Opening Doors blog by John Beckford 1st April 2014 for Loughborough University Centre for Information Management


TRACCA – The Railway System – A presentation for the Climate Change Adaptation Group


The Railway System – TRACCA

To hear John Beckford’s presentation on Infrastructure investment at Bristol University April 2013 follow the link