Tag Archives: Management & Leadership

Michael Shrimpton – Spyhunter

Here’s a video not many people have watched, or are ever likely to watch. It’s a 40 min speech given by barrister Michael Shrimpton at the Britain on the Brink conference in Winchester on 22 September 2007.

What was the Britain on the Brink Conference you might ask? Well, according to the YouTube blurb is was:

A one day Conference by and for people of all parties and of none.

Hardly the kind of catch line that’s likely to attract many YouTube hits you might think. And you know what? … It hasn’t! 

Continue reading Michael Shrimpton – Spyhunter

Income of the 100 richest people could end global poverty 4 times over!

The net income of the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to make extreme poverty history four times over.

That’s a pretty extremist statement. A headline from The Morning Star, The Socialist Worker or Marxism Today you might think? Nah. It was from an Oxfam press statement released on 19 January 2014.

Continue reading Income of the 100 richest people could end global poverty 4 times over!

Brunel, Bhagwan, The Beatles and the Collapse of Western Civilization

“I endeavour to understand the current state of railway matters when everyone around seems mad. Stark staring mad. The only sane course is to get out and keep quiet.”

Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

How tragic is that? The man responsible for building so much of Britain’s railway network, driven to a point where the only way he could keep his sanity was to get out of the business entirely and keep his mouth shut.

But I know exactly how he feels. Replace ‘railway’ with ‘television’,  ‘journalism’, or ‘science’ and I’ve come to exactly the same conclusion myself.

Continue reading Brunel, Bhagwan, The Beatles and the Collapse of Western Civilization

BBC replaces inquisitive, creative people with undistinguished managers in suits

“The BBC, under the successive regimes of John Birt and Greg Dyke, has largely dispensed with the kind of inquisitive, creative, well-educated people who used to run the show and replaced them with undistinguished looking mangers in suits, not to mention a number of equally dim-looking women.

To expect these people suddenly to change their ways and, instead of the rubbish currently on offer, to produce plays and documentaries is absurd.

For a start, they would all have to dismiss themselves, and there’s no hope at all of that happening.”

Richard Ingrams, The Observer, 6 March 2005

Business leaders are the kind of people you would willingly cross live rails in damp socks to avoid

“Apparently, in today’s business environment, it is no longer necessary actually to think, or lead, or have an idea. All that is needed is for someone to say repeatedly that they are a thinker, or a leader, or an ideas person, and then heroically fail to understand any aspect of a traditional causal link, in English, between spoken claim and actual prowess. Words mean precisely how loud you shout them.

But management, its transparent duplicity of language and shallowness of soul and thorough lack of wit, is not just disliked today in Britain, it’s quite actively loathed: and television is reflecting this more and more powerfully.

If I were this week whatever a business leader is, watching the dramatisation of my profession and its own portrayal in reality, I would wonder very hard at the emergence of a British population sadly resigned to daily governance by the kind of people whose personality and morals and intellects a staggering majority of the country would, in the real world, willingly flee by crossing live rails in damp socks.”

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 20 Feb 2005

Public services run by targets will either seize up or explode

“Although New Labour may have come to power talking of ‘joined-up government’, in practice it has approached policy from the exactly opposite point of view – breaking a problem down into its component parts and then attempting to solve them in a linear fashion…

“As author Jake Chapman, a well known systems thinker, points out, there are two important properties of complex human-activity systems. One is that they can’t be managed by the use of crude performance targets, which bend them out of shape and make implementers ‘look the wrong way’ – at the targets rather than the needs of their clientèle. Nor, second, can they be managed by reductionist, command-and-control methods, because of the many unintended consequences.

“Instead, such systems have to be carefully managed for long-term, incremental improvements by ‘introducing learning processes rather than specifying outcomes or targets,’ and their success judged by users, not governments….

“Chapman’s important pamphlet contains a powerful warning. From a systems point of view, it is no accident that unintended consequences are multiplying like boils all over the public sector. The traditional mechanistic approach to policy has been savagely undermined by increasing complexity and interconnectedness; in a more complex world, policy really is becoming more difficult, to the extent that without a change of method, failure will be increasingly common.

Meanwhile, eaten by their toxic incentives, public-service organisations run by targets on command-and-control lines will, as an absolute certainty, become more dysfunctional and more neurotic until they either seize up or explode.”

Thinking outside the box, Simon Caulkin, The Observer, 26 May 2002

BBC copied ‘That’s Life’ format and gave it to a BBC senior executive’s girlfriend!

Bernard Braden died 9 years ago having never fully recovered from the injustice that overshadowed his career, when the BBC dropped his programme, Braden’s Week, and replaced it with a copy: That’s Life.

The fact that it was presented by the then unknown Esther Rantzen, who had been Braden’s junior researcher, and was later discovered to be the girlfriend of a BBC production executive, Desmond Wilcox, added insult to injury.

Barbara Kelly, Daily Mail Supplement, 25 May 2002

Top jobs have become more male and Oxbridge dominated under New Labour

Tony Blair’s pledge to destroy the establishment that controls large swathes of British life has been shattered by research showing that the country’s ‘cultural gatekeepers’ are still older, white men, most often educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.

“If anything, appointments under New Labour have become more male and Oxbridge-dominated” said Damian Tambini, author of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, All Change at the Top?

Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, 14 Apr 2002