Interesting elsewhere – 9 September 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away… — Medium
The fact that hardware and software is being professionally designed to distract was the first thing that made me willing to require rather than merely suggest that students not use devices in class. There are some counter-moves in the industry right now — software that takes over your screen to hide distractions, software that prevents you from logging into certain sites or using the internet at all, phones with Do Not Disturb options — but at the moment these are rear-guard actions. The industry has committed itself to an arms race for my students’ attention, and if it’s me against Facebook and Apple, I lose.

You Are Not Late — The Message — Medium
Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh to have been alive and well back then!”

The last 30 years has created a marvelous starting point, a solid platform to build truly great things. However the coolest stuff has not been invented yet — although this new greatness will not be more of the same-same that exists today. It will not be merely “better,” it will different, beyond, and other.

The spirit of the age | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
It’s not just funerals and retirements that change attitudes. The process by which whole societies change their minds about things is much more interesting than that. Generational attitudes waver and people move with the times. The word zeitgeist translates as spirit of the age. That spirit moves in mysterious ways.

Beyond belief – towards a new methodology of change | Matthew Taylor’s blog
Perhaps the biggest challenge to the beyond policy paradigm is that it requires fundamental changes not just in the way we do policy, but in how we think about politics, accountability and social responsibility. The solidity of traditional policy making is contained within a wider system which cannot easily contend with the much more fluid material of ‘beyond policy’. When, for example, I tell politicians there their most constructive power may lie not in passing laws, imposing regulations or even spending money but on convening new types of conversation, they react like body builders who have asked to train using only cuddly toys.

Already Here: the importance of ordinary innovation | Native
I’ve grown to learn that the greatest innovations are not always with the new ways to tell stories, or the new ways to make a noise. Instead, the truly revolutionary are often somewhat banal. They’re the innovation that disappears as soon as it happens, that arrives and makes us immediately forget what it was like to live without it. Not showy, but subtle and just-so.

How to Harness the Wisdom of Crowds in Public Services
Polls, referenda and consultations request individuals’ views on a subject. They ask citizens to express the level of their support for a particular measure, or to state their preference from a list of pre-set options. Gathering such qualitative responses may be helpful in revealing the strength of public opinion on a specific issue. But the pressing need for good policymaking is having ideas and information. A more interesting and potentially fruitful approach would therefore be to ask citizens to provide facts or answers to specific questions; to provide knowledge that government alone could not find for itself.

Not just the government’s playbook – O’Reilly Radar
Whenever I hear someone say that “government should be run like a business,” my first reaction is “do you know how badly most businesses are run?” Seriously. I do not want my government to run like a business — whether it’s like the local restaurants that pop up and die like wildflowers, or megacorporations that sell broken products, whether financial, automotive, or otherwise.

Interesting elsewhere – 6 August 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

War – the mother of the tech sector | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
War, then, is good for technological development. Of course, it’s not the killing and destruction itself that leads to innovation. You can do a lot of that with relatively primitive technology. What drives the scale and speed of technological innovation is a massive concentration of investment. It’s just nothing seems to promote quite that level of investment quite like armed conflict, or the fear of it.

The UX problem with Agile | mmitII
One element that can help is for the providers of systems to try to hold onto empathy for their users – and to understand fundamentally that sometimes what we see as “making things better” might not be perceived in the same way by the people using a service. For most of us the status quo, no matter how buggy or badly designed, is initially favoured to the new because, whilst it might be crappy, we know its limitations and have built coping mechanisms to work around. Every improvement runs the risk of initially removing a level of self determination from the people who are using the system.

FutureGov | Play time is over
We can’t just sleepwalk into this stuff, we must think about the impact of decisions we make and the values we want to design into the public services we build. Technology and open data is not neutral anymore than anything else we do. We need to think carefully about whether and how we want to design with people. To give them access to their data – or not. To support participation in public services – or not.

Why I Tweet | Sharon O’Dea
I tweet because it makes me look good. I tweet because I’m selfish; I’m a voracious collector of half-remembered knowledge, and by sharing what I have, I gain more than I give away. And I am lazy; why find the answer when the hive-mind can tell you in an instant?

I tweet because I’m a selfish, vain and lazy person who wants to change the world. And so are you.

Let citizens spend tax revenues rather than the technocrats at the top : RSA blogs
In these creative times, when people have so much more confidence in their capacity to think for themselves, develop ideas and change theirs and others’ worlds, a relationship built around the notion that citizens should simply hand over cash in return for top-down provision is bound to cause annoyance and confusion. It also encourages the very abdication of personal responsibility which politicians now tell us we need to revive to meet the challenge of long-term austerity.

The Quiet Movement to Make Government Fail Less Often – NYTimes.com
The United States government has historically been good at the big stuff, from fighting wars to breaking new scientific ground. It’s everything else that tends to present a problem.

Government should be joined up and grown up | LabourList
Mature and competent ministers can work very successfully with officials. Politicians should provide a sense of direction. Civil servants should carry out the work that ensues. It may not always be easy, but it must be doable.

more work required: on ‘big govt IT’, ‘transactions’ and the future of public service design | new tech observations from the UK (ntouk)
Many current government ‘transactions’ are merely automated versions from the old paper world, moving electronic versions of forms from one place to another — either literally, or by mimicking the form online in a series of interminable web pages that ape the paper world. We can throw all the tin and software we like at these ‘digital forms’, but it’s not going to do much to improve the quality, efficiency, or relevance of the services involved.

Why big IT projects always go wrong | Technology | The Observer
The message is clear: if you run a big company or a government department and are contemplating a big IT product, ask yourself this question: can your company or your ministerial career survive if the project goes over budget by 40% or more, or if only 25-50% of the projected benefits are realised? If the answer is “no” go back to square one.

10 Lessons from 4 Years Working Remotely at Automattic | When I Have Time by Sara Rosso
When you work with a distributed team, the only way you measure if they are working is on their output. Did they do what they said they would do? Where is the result of that work? Did they even say they would do anything, or have they gone dark? It’s frightening easy to notice when a distributed coworker checks out or becomes disinterested in what they’re doing…they stop communicating, they stop creating. There’s no output.

Don’t blame the mandarins | Freethinking Economist
From time to time you will read columns revealing how some great idea has been being thwarted by Mandarins.   This is usually the clearest sign than an incompetent spad has been on manoeuvres.  It isn’t a coup.

Interesting elsewhere – 9 July 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Help Joy help you. On the unusability of internal systems. – disambiguity
If you’re going to do this user experience thing properly, you’ve got to look at all the angles. If you respect for your employees and your customers you need to care about the user experience of internal systems. Challenge yourself to solve the often more difficult design problems of internal systems, and know that by doing that, you’re creating a better user experience for all.

We need public service reform but it won’t be enough on its own | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
The whole reason I started banging on about the country’s fiscal position in the first place was to demonstrate the need for reform of the state. Anyone in the public sector who thinks that, under a more sympathetic government, things will go back to how they were, is deluding themselves. Even with a growing economy, the squeeze on budgets will be a feature of public sector management for at least the rest of this decade and probably well into the next one too.

Making prison visits easier to book | Government Digital Service
This visit opened my eyes to just how hard people will work to cope with inadequate and unsuitable IT systems. They’ll tolerate a huge amount of unnecessary administration without challenge or complaint.

7 tribes of digital? | Curiouscatherine’s Blog
Leadership is essential not just in terms of effective decision making because we don’t want this to be a values-less exercise. Technologists make values based decisions everyday and if they are not being guided by shared strategic and cultural principles set by organisational leaders who understand what they are doing then they are likely to make at best chaotic and at worst bad choices. Ensuring our digital spaces reflect our cultural values is going to be a key aspect to leadership in the 21st Century.

danah boyd | apophenia » What does the Facebook experiment teach us?
I resent the fact that because I barely use [Facebook], the only way that I could actually get a message out to friends is to pay to have it posted. My minimal use has made me an algorithmic pariah and if I weren’t technologically savvy enough to know better, I would feel as though I’ve been shunned by my friends rather than simply deemed unworthy by an algorithm.

Jill Lepore: What the Theory of “Disruptive Innovation” Gets Wrong : The New Yorker
Among the many differences between disruption and evolution is that the advocates of disruption have an affinity for circular arguments. If an established company doesn’t disrupt, it will fail, and if it fails it must be because it didn’t disrupt. When a startup fails, that’s a success, since epidemic failure is a hallmark of disruptive innovation. When an established company succeeds, that’s only because it hasn’t yet failed. And, when any of these things happen, all of them are only further evidence of disruption.

Stumbling and Mumbling: The home-working puzzle
Early factories supplanted home-working not because they were technically more efficient, but because they gave capitalists more control over the labour process and hence the power to extract more of the gains from the employment relationship for themselves. A similar thing might explain employers’ aversion to home-working today. Or, more loosely, perhaps narcissistic managers want to feel a sense of power from seeing employees working.

Interesting elsewhere – 13 June 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Sensible security | Cabinet Office technology
The answer isn’t to compromise security in order to meet the user needs. The answer is to think about security as part of the user needs, something that is integral to (and should be balanced against) every other facet of the service.

Five Whitehall lessons that Sir Humphrey never learnt – FT.com
The first thing I learnt was that there is no such thing as HM Government. Westminster is a ship without a bridge; there is no captain who can observe everything and steer a course. There are only the departments – 20 or so disparate organisations, peopled by stubbornly uncommunicative officials, each with its own direction of travel and prone to colliding with the others.

Everyone is doing strategy right now. – disambiguity
You are already doing strategy today. Don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect strategy. Take time to understand the strategies that are in play today, make those as visible and addressable as you can, and start iterating.

The Internet With A Human Face – Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk
I’ve come to believe that a lot of what’s wrong with the Internet has to do with memory. The Internet somehow contrives to remember too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work.

Everything Is Broken — The Message — Medium
It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.

Computers, and computing, are broken.

Everything is Distributed – O’Reilly Radar
There are no complex software systems without people. Any discussion of distributed systems and managing complexity ultimately must acknowledge the roles people play in the systems we design and run. Humans are an integral part of the complex systems we create, and we are largely responsible for both their variability and their resilience (or lack thereof).

Guest Post: Culture, context and ways of working | Government technology
To really get the benefits from our digital journey, it is not just about rethinking our customer interactions.  We need to re-think the whole organisation:  culture, context and ways of working are as important as the technology.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data [pdf]
Economists suffer from physics envy over their inability to neatly model human behavior. An informal, incomplete grammar of the English language runs over 1,700 pages. Perhaps when it comes to natural language processing and related fields, we’re doomed to complex theories that will never have the elegance of physics equations. But
if that’s so, we should stop acting as if our goal is to author extremely elegant theories, and instead embrace complexity and make use of the best ally we have: the unreasonable effectiveness of data

How to write a risk log in 6 easy steps | Freedom From Command And Control
Writing about risks is a powerful weapon. Risks can’t read so they won’t know what you said about them. A completed and signed off risk log is a credible deterrent. A draft or incomplete risk log is a major threat.

Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’ – NYTimes.com
Data is data. Google and company have not internalized just how significant that first page of search results has become to someone whose name has been queried. What they place on that page may do more than anything else in the world to define a stranger in others’ estimations.

Interesting elsewhere – 13 May 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Makessense Stop! — Crooked Timber
Thinking generally uses the “makessense” stopping rule. We take a position, look for evidence that supports it, and if we find some evidence — enough so that our position “makes sense” — we stop thinking.

The Five Axioms of the API Economy: Axiom #1
Everything and everyone will be API enabled.

APIs are core to every cloud, social and mobile computing strategy.

APIs are an economic imperative.

Organizations must provide their core competence through APIs.

Organizations must consume core competences of others through APIs.

Guest post: You’ve got two hours to fix government IT | Government technology
The “risk averse, responsibility shy” attitude of some managers. There was quite a lot of discussion on this point at our table. We talked about how senior leaders want people to try digital things, like social media or open internet tools, but don’t want to accept responsibility when things go wrong or when people make mistakes (and that’s definitely a when not an if). What’s your incentive to try something new if you know you’ll be dragged over the coals if you fail?

The best way to organize your business communications is not to organize them at all – Quartz
But the truly interesting thing about Slack is that it puts the whole fragmented list of ways we communicate beyond email, chats, messages, documents, and reports into one stream and makes it searchable. It promises to end the need to constantly categorize and sort everything we do. When everything’s already in one place, you don’t need to spend time creating folders to sort things into and trying to keep track of where the information you need is. You just search for it as needed.

Stop Making Users Explore — Product Management — Medium
Figuring out what that most obvious first task is can be tricky. In order to do it well, you need to truly understand why your user might want to use your product. What problem are they trying to solve? What task do they want to accomplish? How do they want to change their lives? What sort of hole are they trying to drill?

How to take a report to management team | Freedom From Command And Control
Talk them through the paper and invite comments. This means you talk as they read; at the same time, but never in the same place in the document. You may need to raise your voice as they shuffle through their papers searching for bullet points. If you do raise your voice, remember to lower it again. As you talk, try not to show any teeth. This could make them aggressive. Speed up as you go through it. Say you are conscious of time.

How Uber and Airbnb Resurrect ‘Dead Capital’
Uber connects black car drivers with passengers, Airbnb links renters with travelers, and Etsy allows small artisans to create virtual storefronts. Uber owns no cars, Airbnb has no properties, and Etsy prints no Insane Clown Posse fan art

Interesting elsewhere – 2 April 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

    Why it is not possible to regulate robots | Technology | theguardian.com
    We really only know how to make one kind of computer: the "general purpose computer" that can execute every instruction that can be expressed in symbolic logic. Put more simply: we only know how to make a computer that can run every programme.

    Thirty Percent Feedback
    When you meet someone who is hungry for tough feedback, the effect is powerful.  You can just tell that they’re going to be successful because they are so hungry for information.  Their pace of learning is so much quicker than anyone else who toils alone.  They don’t take criticism of their work personally, and because of this, they exude a deep sense of confidence.  I’m always inspired when I see that in its purest form.

    danah boyd | apophenia » Why Snapchat is Valuable: It’s All About Attention
    Snapchat is a reminder that constraints have a social purpose, that there is beauty in simplicity, and that the ephemeral is valuable.

    It’s not about making a comment. It’s about making a difference | Patient Opinion
    Patient Opinion is nothing like Tripadvisor. This isn’t about “reviewing” a service or comparing “top-rated” services. It is about an effective, scalable collaboration between patients and staff, right across the NHS, to make care better.

    Digital public management – Jerry Fishenden
    While technology remains an enabler of new opportunities in the design of our public services, digital is not primarily about technology. At its core are new organisational values and practices: successful digital organisations have user-centric operating models clustered around speed and adaptability.

    Sound of success: finding perfect acoustics for a productive office
    "We need architects to start designing offices that are fit for the ears as well as the eyes," says Treasure. "We really need to start designing for all the senses and end up with offices that are truly fit for purpose."

    But what would you do instead?
    We’ve always done it this way. Yep. That’s probably the biggest barrier to any change. Someone has to make a decision to do something differently. Yes, that involves some risk. Yes, that means you’ll be vulnerable.

    Instead – don’t go it alone. Find others in your organisation willing to share the risk with you. Find collaborators from outside who can bring in new ideas.

    We Don’t Sell Saddles Here — Medium, Long — Medium
    When you want something really bad, you will put up with a lot of flaws. But if you do not yet know you want something, your tolerance will be much lower. That’s why it is especially important for us to build a beautiful, elegant and considerate piece of software. Every bit of grace, refinement, and thoughtfulness on our part will pull people along. Every petty irritation will stop them and give the impression that it is not worth it.

    Schneier on Security: The Insecurity of Secret IT Systems
    I used to decry secret security systems as "security by obscurity." I now say it more strongly: "obscurity means insecurity."

Interesting elsewhere – 12 February 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

The policy world and academia offer widely different opportunities for early career researchers. | Impact of Social Sciences
In academia you look for a problem you can answer well, and in policy you find the best answer you can to the problem you are given.

Striking a balance between security and usability | Government Digital Service
All too often, it’s been the case that people have approached security as something that either people who deal with compliance and writing documents deal with, or that the techies deal with. It’s a fundamental part of the service; it’s not this separate thing that one team thinks about.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Offices: 1. The Office Is Not Dead | spaceandorganisation
So what exactly is it that the office adds to our working lives, or in other words, what are the affordances of space? Grounded in my research, I would argue that space is important since it affords 1) co-presence, 2) encounter and 3) routines.

There is no UX, there is only UX | disambiguity
The truth is that, for many of our projects, the truly challenging user experience issues come not from designing the interface*, but from the constraints of the product that must be designed. Those constraints and challenges tend to come from our friends in policy or standards, or procurement or other parts of the organisation. Try as you might, you can’t interface away inappropriate policy.

The Four Freedoms | Matt Mullenweg
I believe that software, and in fact entire companies, should be run in a way that assumes that the sum of the talent of people outside your walls is greater than the sum of the few you have inside. None of us are as smart as all of us.

Flip Chart Fairy Tales | Business Bullshit, Corporate Crap and other stuff from the World of Work
A well-managed hierarchy is among the most effective weapons for getting rid of the friction, incompetence, and politics that plague bad organisations.

We need to start talking about public service reform again : RSA blogs
Instead of focussing solely on supply side reform and choice and competition, we need to understand how better to manage demand. This is about households, families and communities – what they want for their lives, what they expect from public services and what they can do for themselves. Unless public services start to engage with and try to change the dynamics of demand then they will face a bleak future as residualised services.

Interesting elsewhere – 14 January 2014

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

Foden Grealy – Document standards and the rankling print presumption
Our mental model for handling textual information is based on the printed paper created by a typewriter, distributed by post and kept in a folder. It got us over the introduction of personal computing but it’s time we moved on.

Innovate on Purpose: Why innovators need a word other than failure
Corporate innovators need all the trappings of failure – learning, experience, insights – but without the ripple effect.  What we need, as corporate innovators, is the ability to experiment, prototype and test new concepts and products as thoroughly and as rapidly as possible.  Then, our experiments become controlled “mini-failures” that offer much the same learning, but without the devastating effects more common in a startup.

Failure porn | Johnnie Moore
The question,  ”but how will that scale” is often an effective way to kill off interesting ideas that might benefit from a bit more oxygen, and going with safer ones that will eventually underwhelm.

Shambles, from mini to omni
The thing about system failures is that nobody has a strong incentive to do anything about them. The risks are high, the potential rewards minimal. They are hard to sort out because it takes a long time and involves getting a lot of people to agree to change things in ways that make their lives a bit more difficult. There is no personal risk in continuing with things they way they are now.

Seth’s Blog: Accuracy, resilience and denial
Resilience is the best strategy for those realistic enough to admit that they can’t predict the future with more accuracy than others. Resilience isn’t a bet on one outcome, instead, it’s an investment across a range of possible outcomes, a way to ensure that regardless of what actually occurs (within the range), you’ll do fine.

And denial, of course, is the strategy of assuming that the future will be just like today.

Telling Stories | Patient Opinion
We make the assumption that what has been posted is true. There is something about embracing the spirit of Patient Opinion that means that you have to be an advocate, and that means you have to trust the voice. That might seem an obvious and easy assumption to make. But coming to that view is actually quite complex and the rationale needs to be explained to staff if they are to buy into it.

In 2014, let’s get digital skills out of the classroom – Postbureaucrat
A barrier we come up against time and again is the reality that a large chunk of the public sector in 2013 isn’t trusted or equipped to access common digital tools. Beyond the evergreen problem of having the right kit and being able to access the right websites, changing how people work takes time and creativity, to find shortcuts, try a new approach for a specific project, and identify where digital can add value, rather than becoming just another thing to do.

How Open Floor Plans Are Killing Employee Productivity | Inc.com
when managers watch their workers work, employee productivity dips. The reason? Employees feel more compelled to put their best face forward and follow all corporate policies to a T.

Let’s rethink the idea of the state: it must be a catalyst for big, bold ideas | Mariana Mazzucato | Comment is free | The Observer
To foster growth we must not downsize the state but rethink it. That means developing, not axing, competences and dynamism in the public sector. When evaluating its performance, we must rediscover the point of the public sector: to make things happen that would not have happened anyway.

Interesting elsewhere – 10 December 2013

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

    Five Ways to Learn Nothing from Your Customers’ Feedback – Rob Markey – Harvard Business Review
    Anonymity in customer feedback is, frankly, overrated. People want to be heard. They want their feedback to be acknowledged. They want to know that the time they invested sharing feedback meant something and was acted on. Closing the loop is essential to building lasting customer relationships, and it is an invaluable opportunity to dig more deeply into the details of what delighted or enraged them. It offers an opportunity to begin digging into the root causes of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction to uncover policy problems, issues with product design, or other pesky issues that require cross-functional collaboration.

    Is the public sector more innovative than we think? « MindBlog
    The public sector can be just as pioneering as the private sector when it comes to organising innovation. The degree of complexity that characterises many public issues means that organisation, incentives and processes often need to be more sophisticated than in the private sector.

    Agency of the Future Guide: Telework More Than a Trend – A Workplace Transformation – GovLoop – Knowledge Network for Government
    Roughly 35% of the federal workforce is eligible to telework, but only 11% take advantage. The main reason for the low percentage is that employees feel culturally pressured to work in the office by supervisors who are not comfortable managing remote professionals.

    Care Connect: there is a better way | Patient Opinion
    As patients and carers, we now want to be more than ‘feedback’. We want to be heard. We want to be reassured. We want to support those we care about. We want to encourage staff we see doing their best, against the odds. We want to know our stories get to the right people. We want to see what others are saying. We want to see real change. And we expect all of this to be transparent, right down to seeing who has read our stories.

    Pitting Cyclists Against Drivers Is A Bloody Stupid Idea | Londonist
    Stupidity is a statistical inevitability. What we actually need to do is to redesign our roads to make it less likely that stupidity is a fatal condition.

    Designers ! The challenge that needs your attention | Redjotter
    How do we create interface design that rewards patience?

    How do we design email systems that represent people and not information?

    What does hardware that reminds you you have a body look and feel like?

    How do we build social networks that develop compassion?

    How does a website that supports concentration and presence work?

    » Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality Clay Shirky
    An effective test is an exercise in humility; it’s only useful in a culture where desirability is not confused with likelihood. For a test to change things, everyone has to understand that their opinion, and their boss’s opinion, matters less than what actually works and what doesn’t. (An organization that isn’t learning from its users decided it doesn’t want to learn from its users.)

    Schneier on Security: A Fraying of the Public/Private Surveillance Partnership
    It's impossible to build an Internet where the good guys can eavesdrop, and the bad guys cannot. We have a choice between an Internet that is vulnerable to all attackers, or an Internet that is safe from all attackers.

    LGiU the council of 2043: Catherine Howe | LGIU: Local Government Information Unit
    Being digital by default means the creation of shared digital and civic space where communities and councils can network and collaborate – not simply pushing 19th century transactions online.

Interesting elsewhere – 14 November 2013

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

    Why is the corporate welfare state so flawed – and how could it be made better? – Nesta
    The aim should not be one-sided welfare, but rather better deals in which both sides win.  Groups of firms or sectors should be encouraged to engage with government and propose deals – where governments sorts out the things only it can fix, like basic research, infrastructure, regulations and skills – and business gets on with the job of developing better goods and services. The crucial point is that these deals need to be structured around performance – with funding released in response to demonstrable evidence of growth. Welfare needs, in other words, to become conditional, while policy becomes experimental.

    Synthesisers and Provocateurs | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
    To change an organisation you need to challenge. Informed challenge helps to shift the way people talk, think and, eventually, act. If HR professionals, or anyone else for that matter, want to change the way their organisations work, they will need to become synthnesisers and provocateurs.

    Systems Innovation – Charles Leadbeater
    Systems innovation depends on alliances, and alliances need to be governed, explicitly or implicitly. That takes political innovation as well as financial and technical innovation.

    A Horizontal Manifesto – Joel Bailey
    I’ve spent 2,000 words describing how verticalism undermines private sector businesses. I could write 5,000 on how it undermines public sector organisations.

    Stumbling and Mumbling: Ten political assumptions
    I don't say all this to mean these assumptions are necessarily wrong. I do so just to point out that politcal debate is much narrower than you might think.

    Why Face-To-Face Meetings Are Overrated | Inc.com
    By rationing in-person meetings, their stature is elevated to that of a rare treat. They become something to be savored, something special. Dine out every once in a while on those feasts and sustain yourself in the interim on the conversation “snacks” that technology makes possible. That will give you all the magic you can handle.

    No, minister | Matthew Taylor’s blog
    But still, the fiction persists that we can substantially improve policy making without discussing the performance of ministers and the interface between them and civil servants. As long as it does, the promise to improve the quality of policy making in Whitehall will ring hollow.

    Open practice, working out loud and the top five reasons why I blog | Sarah Lay
    Open practice, or working out loud, makes us all better. It benefits the individuals in the team by letting them share success or learn from failure, it helps the team to see the steps on their journey and all the individual pieces of work going into their puzzle and it benefits fellow practitioners through knowledge sharing and making links to collaborate.

    Why Policymakers Ignore Evidence
    Speak to many University colleagues and they will report what appears to be a common experience: evidence carefully collected and assembled about significant societal concerns, and what to do about them, are presented to policy makers and then promptly ignored. How can this frustrating process best be understood? The dozen explanations I offer are less to do with the political process being corrupt and have more to do with its complexities which academics from all disciplines need to understand and respect.

    Stumbling and Mumbling: Why not a basic income?
    A [basic income] is, perhaps paradoxically, a policy of pessimism. It's based in part upon the idea that governments lack the ability to distinguish between people of high and low needs or between strivers and scroungers – except at high cost – and so should adopt the low-information policy of giving everyone the same. However, politicians are self-selected for having faith in the power of government. They therefore believe – more than the rest of us – that governments can do better than a BI.

    Memex 1.1 » Blog Archive » The banality of organisational evil
    Corporate employees are not evil people, but in their organisational roles they tend to follow five rules:

    (1) You never go around your boss. (2) You tell your boss what he wants to hear, even when your boss claims that he wants dissenting views. (3) If your boss wants something dropped, you drop it. (4) You are sensitive to your boss’s wishes so that you anticipate what he wants; you don’t force him, in other words, to act as a boss. (5) Your job is not to report something that your boss does not want reported, but rather to cover it up. You do your job and you keep your mouth shut.

    The 10 Minute Clarity Test – System Thinking For Girls
    The lesson here is that clarity is hard when people are afraid. Most of us will do anything to avoid looking stupid in front of other people. So,  if you want clarity, you have to do something about the fear. If you are in charge of a meeting, create some new rules.

    Why customers’ actual experience trumps company processes every time | Sole Trader PR
    The focus on internal business process rather than the actual experience of real live customers must be the very definition of bad business practice. It’s certainly dreadful customer service. Complaints, though difficult to hear, are hugely valuable in showing where systems are failing. They’re not personal attacks that need to be defended at all costs.

    Stumbling and Mumbling: The intelligence curse
    Many political problems are either insoluble, or have quite simple solutions which are unsellable (basic income, voluntary jobs guarantee, drug legalization). For the former category intelligence is useless, for the latter unnecessary.

    What We Don’t Blog About and What it Says About Us « iBenedictines
    No matter what we leave out, what we choose not to write about, someone, somewhere will have something to say that is worth reading, on precisely the subjects about which we ourselves are inadequate.