Conversations in layers

I stumbled on this crude graphic that I blogged back in 2004. I was making a point about a specific piece of marketing jargon, “brand architecture”. I think the same idea would apply to many of the fancy terms bandied about in organisations. Whatever the intention, it strikes me that any communication has its surface […]

Transcending language

Andrew Sullivan quotes Christian Wiman: I don’t think you can spend your whole life questioning whether language can represent reality. At some point, you have to believe that the inadequacies of words you use will be transcended by the faith with which you use them. You have to believe that poetry has some reach into […]

Steinbeck on writing

Maria Popova spots this great comment from John Steinbeck. If there is a magic in story writing and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of […]

The perils of the complicated

Chris Corrigan has a good post on how complicated models masked the complexity of the financial system – and made the perpetrators very rich at everyone’s else’s expense. In these times, we need more honest leadership. Not leadership based on clever imaginings about how the world works but leadership based on a collaborative approach to […]

Tyranny of the Explicit

Following up on yesterday’s post, a second of our tyranny coatpegs it the Tyranny of the Explicit. Viv talks about it here and it’s something I’ve referred to a few times before. Bureaucracies tend to be better at adding rules and procedures than taking them away. Adding rules tends to reduce excpeptions which can eliminate […]

The divided (and interconnected) brain

Towards the end of this RSA Animate video, psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist quotes Einstein: The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. McGilchrist suggests we now honour the servant trapped in a left brain mode of thinking the emphasises exactitude over the intuitive. It’s a good update of thinking […]

We’re all talk radio hosts now…

Jonah Lehrer suggests thinking can often serve to confuse us. He reports research where students had to rate different jams. They managed to come out with similar preferences to expert jam tasters. Then a similar group got the same exercise but with questionnaires to complete so they had to explain their decisions. They came out […]

Podcast: The tyranny of the explicit

Yesterday I recorded a conversation with Viv McWaters and Roland Harwood on the theme of The Tyranny of the Explicit. We explore how the need for certainty in an uncertain world the over reliance on metrics and the demand that learning be made explicit, can often kill energy in meetings and get in the way […]

Bureaucracy, targets and pseudo-surveys

Mark Fisher picks up some fairly grim examples of bureaucratic bullying in the public sector and the abuse of targets and surveys. Just reading the absurd form-filling required if a student arrives late to a lecture makes me want to weep. And it’s good to this example of Sussex students boycotting the National Student Survey […]