Philip Sheldrake

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The pot calling the kettle black – Teresa May ‘subverting democracy’

Daily Mail front page 3 Oct 2016

Prime Minister Teresa May has presented the conclusion that many experts (yes, the very same derided by Brexiteer Michael Gove) worked out some time ago. There is no such thing as a 'soft' Brexit.

The very idea of a 'soft' Brexit may as well have been called 'have-your-cake-and-eat-it' Brexit, because very rarely if ever does one get such an opportunity, particularly when there are 27 others at the table.

Ain't gonna happen.

At the first day of the Conservative Party conference yesterday May put herself entirely the wrong side of history, embracing nationalism and isolationism at a time when the only way our species is going to get along together better – and it really needs to get along together better – is if we work at it together.

Instead she harrumphed and told everyone we were going to take our ball home.

She did so in the name of sovereignty even though our sovereignty is denuded in this connected world when its broader influence is diminished.

Perhaps most astonishingly, she had the arrogance to tell us Remainers that we're trying to subvert democracy by our constant attention to protecting the best interests of our economy and therefore our jobs, our schools and our healthcare system. She appears to have forgotten rather conveniently that the EU Referendum offered voters the opportunity to tell the government what they didn't want. A vote against membership of the EU was not a vote for anything quite simply because no-one had actually presented a picture of the alternative. That is only taking shape now.

I just tweeted the following diagram. We must ascertain what proportion of 'soft' Brexiters, perhaps reluctant Brexiters, would now prefer to Remain given the true, shocking, wrenching vista of Brexit.

By denying an answer to this question, May is subverting democracy.

hard brexit

 

 

A majority now or when it matters? #thefiftypointtwo

Brexit march June 2016

The quickest glance at my posts and tweets will tell you two things: (1) we just voted on a multi-faceted complex issue with too little understanding further muddied by the lies pedalled by both sides, and (2) I believe everyone in the UK is better off by our remaining in the European Union.

There's a reason Margaret Thatcher concurred with Lord Attlee in describing referenda as "a device of dictators and demagogues" – the same reason the UK has representative parliamentary democracy and not direct democracy. (If only David Cameron had paid more attention in class.)

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg describes the resultant mess as a "debilitating cocktail of hubris, incompetence and dishonesty".

Yet putting the well-known shortcomings of direct democracy to one side for the moment, we must accept that just shy of 52% of voters went to the polling stations last month and put a cross against Leave. The majority has spoken, right?

Neither Leave nor Remain is perfect, of course, yet to my mind the Leave argument is akin to trashing your car because the ride is a bit bumpy, so I find myself asking ... which majority should we be thinking about? Read more

Doh! Can we have another think about this Brexit thing please?

ISS-46_Italy,_Alps_and_Mediterranean_at_night_Tim_Peake

On June 23rd 2016, 51.9% of UK voters opted to leave the European Union. I’m writing here to say:

  1. We made a mistake
  2. We should have another think about it, and
  3. The Liberal Democrats might hold the key and not realise it.

_________

UPDATE: Approximately eight hours after my post here, Liberal Democrats pledge to keep Britain in the EU after next election. This is great news. We now just need to persuade the party that they need to run at it on a single-issue basis. By doing so, pro-EU voters can cast a clear vote without other policies clouding the matter, and there can then be no ambiguity in interpreting the vote. This could make the difference between  winning and not, and winning by a massive margin. As I write in conclusion to this post, I’m sure the electorate would then thank them in the follow-on election.

_________

Winston Churchill, considered one of the Founding Fathers of the EU, noted that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. It’s wonderful to live in a democracy, and I find it exciting and exasperating, fascinating and frustrating, to be part of the European union of democracies.

A democracy cannot be perfect. The people can make mistakes — of course— and I believe we just made one. A really really big one. Whereas we might change our minds every five years with general elections, leaving the EU is the sort of thing that impacts for generations. Read more

Workfront and the future of work

 

I'm in Orlando Florida this week with the Workfront team and their partners and customers for their annual Leap conference. It's my privilege to participate in a panel session on the future of work, and to deliver a session with the more grounded title – making work suck less!

As you can see from the stack here, the first too common affront I identify and tackle is what I generally call the 'X steps to heaven' crowd. Those authors and companies proffering clickbait that teases with some relatively short sequence of steps needed to take you from zero to hero – in this context, going from a dysfunctional to awesome organization.

Bullshit. Life is complex and society is complex and all organization is complex, and authors of this sort of crap are either ignorant at best or disingenuous at worst. Complexity is a natural product that cannot be simplified – we can only aspire in this digital age to navigate it more simply.

I then go on to identify the lessons we might learn from Mother Nature, the necessity to sustain mutual value for all stakeholders, and some of the hazards we must avoid along the way, not least corporate surveillance.

Last night we were at the Magic Kingdom, and this evening we're dining at Epcot. Who said work has to suck?! :-)

Thanks for having me Workfront.

On the future of manufacturing

modelling additive manufacture

I was invited last week to talk about the future of manufacturing at an event run by the manufacturing practice of one of the big law firms. Here's a whistle stop summary. It's a mind-blowing vista.

Intro

On considering political, economic, social and technological factors, it's unarguable that we're contemplating major flux in manufacturing. As with any flux, today's players will either win out or lose out, and clearly everyone in this room wishes to contribute to and participate in the winning side of things!

With that in mind, I'd like to explore some major themes:

  • Dehumanisation
  • Dematerialisation
  • Decentralisation
  • Deindustrialisation

That list sounds fairly destructive, yet I believe manufacturing is then transformed, manufacturing is vital, and manufacturing is more exciting than ever. Read more

A haiku for the prospects of the sociotechnical

internetome

Yesterday, at Southampton University, my WAIS colleague Ian Brown challenged me to write a haiku to describe my research interests. Here's my effort, the first time in a decade of blogging that I've posted poetry ... and quite possibly the last time too!

we in our biome
add data and shake open
an Internetome

Influence measurement – a contribution to AMEC Measurement Week 2014

In my last post on the topic of AMEC and measurement, I noted:

AMEC is the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, not "of Media"

I have taken that as the theme for my contribution to AMEC Measurement Week 2014, which kicks off Monday. Dr. Jon White is another influence who, in a recent exchange, pointed out that the problems of measurement in public relations are largely the result of the approach taken to management in public relations work.

This topic was one of the motivations for my writing The Business of Influence, although I can assure you Dr. White and others understood the problem way before me. I hope that the recommendations in the book contribute in some small way to putting this right.

For today and for Measurement Week, here are a dozen slides in substitute for the book.

Organization is software

Angkor Thom, Cambodia
This post is about an exciting vista for organization, one that may sound unhuman on the face of it but which, in contrast, I think could serve human dignity very well.

I first presented it in my Future of Organization video May 23rd, a presentation that appears to have been well received (and the accompanying Slideshare accrued over 2000 views in the week). Given the variety and perceptiveness of the comments the video garnered I'm particularly pleased to have excused the presentation up front as being far from comprehensive. Pete Burden picked up on building inclusiveness and sustainability, and humanity, pointing me to this webpage on concious business. And soulfulness was at the heart of a similar exchange with Frederic Laloux, author of Reinventing Organizations. (I consequently elevated the book to the top of my to-read pile and at page 36 I'm enjoying it very much so far.)

Mr. Wirearchy himself, Jon Husband, was good enough to 'tweet out' (appended here). And my dear friend Gabbi Cahane wondered what balance of my living in the future and living in the present might be best for business. Hmm, good point :-)

In this post, I'm referring to what I've named Bread incorporated – a distributed, self-regulating, incorruptible, frictionless market for organization. Here's the slide in question and the transcript: Read more

Brand Anarchy

Brand Anarchy front coverThe idea of a brand goes back to ancient times when ownership of livestock was asserted by burning one's mark onto the animal. This post is about a book called Brand Anarchy, so I thought I'd set the scene.

The mark would be applied to the animal with a burning stick known as a firebrand. That word has morphed over the years to describe passionate individuals looking to shake things up, so it is then with etymological pleasure that I note the authors of Brand Anarchy are firebrands.

I've known Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl from about the time we both started competing PR consultancies back in the day, and there's more than a few reasons why these two canny chaps managed to craft a distinctive and successful PR consultancy in a largely undifferentiated and saturated market. If you haven't had the opportunity to work with them, you can at least now read the book.

The authors are plain speaking – well, they are adept communicators after all. They have a visceral understanding of the PR and brand communications landscape in the 21st Century, one that has underpinned their personal business success. This book describes how reputations are formed today, and how transformed the process is from just a decade or so ago. This contrast is of course painted in many a book of recent times, but you'll appreciate the candour with which the authors describe how organisations must respond.

In fact, perhaps 'respond' is too reactive a word. The medicine here is to change how the organisation behaves, period. To be proactive. To drive engagement between an organisation and everyone involved in its success. To encourage participation and, without wishing to sound too liberal or post-capitalist about it, co-ownership. I mean this in the sense that an Apple fanboy feels a part-ownership of the Apple brand absent a stock trading account.

It does feel like anarchy out there, at least for those weaned on the 20th Century simple life. Actually, it's just complex. The authors strongly suggest you deal with it.

[Disclosure: the book references my work – the Six Influence Flows and the Influence Scorecard.]

Brand Anarchy on Amazon UK.

BRANDiD + Meanwhile + Seedcamp

BRANDiD + Meanwhile + Seedcamp

Here’s some rather good news to lift some of that post-Olympic blues. The BRANDiD team has won gold, literally.

Hundreds of starters were whittled down during recent Seedcamp heats to a couple of dozen top performers. Reading the track perfectly and running a very good race indeed, BRANDiD crossed the finishing line to take its rightful place on the Seedcamp podium – just one of three to make it through the London event. The Seedcamp announcement has just gone live.

It’s been six months since we first blogged about our work with BRANDiD, and we’ve been working hard in the Meanwhile gym since then refining our game. And it feels great to take things to the Seedcamp level.

Read more