The Cyber-Effective Intelligent Organisation

January 15th, 2022

An intelligent organisation is one which integrates and synthesises people and behaviours with process and structure in order to fulfil purpose – all of it evolving. It is enabled by information flowing through the organisations nervous system – the decisions, outputs, applications, devices and infrastructure of its information processing – including the distributed ability to […]

November 30th, 2021

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 […]

August 9th, 2021

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’ […]

May 15th, 2021

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 […]

April 10th, 2021

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 […]

March 9th, 2021

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 […]

February 24th, 2021

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 […]

December 19th, 2020

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. […]

December 6th, 2020

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 […]

December 2nd, 2020

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, […]

October 19th, 2020

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 […]

August 15th, 2020

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 […]

August 1st, 2020

(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 […]

June 29th, 2020

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 […]

April 29th, 2020

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, […]

April 19th, 2020

“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 […]

April 7th, 2020

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 […]

April 2nd, 2020

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 […]

March 16th, 2020

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 […]

March 4th, 2020

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 […]

February 11th, 2020

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 […]

October 24th, 2019

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 […]

October 12th, 2019

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??? […]

October 4th, 2019

 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 […]

August 16th, 2019

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 […]

July 17th, 2019

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 […]

July 9th, 2019

  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 […]

June 24th, 2019

  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 […]

June 16th, 2019

  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 […]

June 6th, 2019

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 […]