New problems require new thinking

To get different results you need to behave differently. To achieve that you need to plan differently. And to plan differently from your competitors you need to think differently from them.

The focus of this blog is mostly around examples of thinking differently about various situations.

For example, in 1854, a major new outbreak of cholera struck Soho in London. With cesspools overflowing the decision had been taken to dump raw sewage straight into the Thames, but at the time nobody saw this as a problem because nobody thought that cholera had anything to do with polluted drinking water. They knew (or thought they knew) that just as with malaria, cholera was caused by bad air.

But one person, John Snow, mapped the cholera cases and removed the handle from one particular water pump, proving that polluted water was the problem. This not only solved the short term problem, but also enabled cities to grow much larger over time, through the use of piped water and sanitation.

Einstein told us that it is impossible to solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them. Gregory Bateson said that most of the problems we face are the result of a difference between the way we think the world works and the way it actually works.

In these blog posts you will find examples of thinking differently about a variety of situations. These may not immediately address the situations you are facing today, but they give examples of how different thinking leads to different, often simpler, understanding, and hence simpler clearer plans for action and results.

Finn Jackson thinks differently and brings a new perspective to the situation, which can help you get the results you want.

Posted in Meta-level | Leave a comment

On Trump


1) How we got here:
The polls always showed that Trump would beat Clinton and lose to Sanders. The DNC chose to win the wrong battle.

2) Where we go next:
Trump’s only consistency is to say whatever the voters want to hear next. He can say “A is best” on Monday and “A is worst” on Tuesday and his supporters will cheer him both times.
There is little point trying to predict what he will do once he is president. There will be no consistent plan, unless he becomes a mouthpiece/figurehead for others. Only time will tell.
His track record in business is to lose in negotiations.

3) What to do about it:
Centre and ground. Know what is most important to you and how you are going to get it. Realise that if Clinton were president you would still have faced challenges. With Trump they will be different challenges. Given his inconsistency, volatility, there are also likely to be more challenges. But that doesn’t change what you want, it only changes how you get there.

Photo By Gage Skidmore via

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Costs of Brexit vs Costs of EU Membership

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 08.39.34

On Friday, the pound fell by 1.57% on fears of Brexit.

In dollar terms, our GDP is now 1.57% smaller than it otherwise would have been.

The total cost of being in the EU is less than 1% of GDP.

In other words, in dollar terms, just talking about leaving the EU has already cost us more in GDP, in a single day, than the entire year’s cost of membership of the EU.

Posted in Money, Strategy | Leave a comment

Importance of Purpose in business

I’ll be talking about my new book The Churning and the importance of Purpose in business on 13 April, as part of the Purposeful Enterprise Summit:


Posted in The Churning | Leave a comment

Standup Comedy

I recently took a short course in standup comedy. What attracted me was the idea that it might be easier to communicate ideas if we sprinkle them amongst comedy.

Here is the result: my first ever standup gig, recorded at a comedy club in London’s West End on 15 November 2015.

Posted in Attitude, Culture, Leadership, Meta-level | Leave a comment

Why we need to update leadership, and how to do so

Screen-Shot-2015-09-29-at-22.30.23Yesterday Umair Haque used the examples of Volkswagen and the pope to discuss leadership.

Ranked one of the top 50 management thinkers in the world he bluntly titled his commentary, “Why Everything You Know About Leadership is Wrong“.

“The world,” he wrote, “is crying out for (real) leadership. Whether it’s Trump, Sanders, or Corbyn a curious phenomenon is sweeping the globe. People are rejecting the heads of traditional institutions.”

Why? Continue reading

Posted in The Churning | Leave a comment

Finished: The Final Section of the Final Chapter of The Churning

Screen-Shot-2015-09-16-at-09.33.38Dear friends,

As you know, I have been writing this book on leadership in times of change for little over a year now. Yesterday I completed the final section of the final chapter of inner leadership, and thought I would share it with you.

The first six chapters of inner leadership take us from making sense of the situation we find ourselves in to creating an inspiring vision of whatever we want to create instead.

The seventh chapter prepares us for the implementation of that vision and the inner emotional transitions that inevitably come alongside any outer change. In brief, it describes how to manage those transitions, how understanding them can help us to engage people more fully to follow our vision, and how ultimately to create ‘antifragile’ leaders and organisations: people and organisations that actually become stronger because of change rather than being damaged by it. Continue reading

Posted in The Churning | Leave a comment

Making sense of a shifting world

To me this gif is a metaphor for the way we make sense of the world.

When we are born and as we grow up we learn to make sense of the world around us. We think it has always been like that, unchanging. Then, as we grow older, the world shifts and changes and we sometimes long for ‘the way it used to be’.

The gif below shows a certain pattern when we first look at it. Then it shifts to something else. It seems complicated. What’s going on?

Then over time our brains provide a glimpse of the simple three-dimensional structure that lies behind the changing apparently complex two-dimensional patterns.

The pattern or structure we see at first may not be what we are actually looking at. And when what we see shifts over time we can begin to perceive the existence of a deeper structure and simplicity.



Posted in Meta-level | Leave a comment

4 July 1776 to 5 July 2015: Greece and the American Revolution

On 4th July 1776 a group of people living in America declared they no longer wished to pay taxes to another group of people, the British Government.

On 5th July 2015 a group of people living in Greece declared they no longer wished to pay interest to another group of people, the Troika or the bankers.

The words we use to describe these two situations are different (‘taxes’, ‘interest’, ‘government’, ‘bank’), but the underlying pattern is the same: refusal by one group of people to continue to pay to another group of people what the treaties, customs and practice of the day say they should do. And then indignation from the second group that the first should dare to refuse.

The consequences may be equally significant. Continue reading

Posted in Money | Tagged | Leave a comment

What Business Cycles Can Teach Us About Evolution (and vice-versa)

We often talk about the need for a paradigm shift, but then we carry on with the same old paradigms, because we know them well and they are comfortable.

Here is a longish piece I have just had published, about a pattern (a paradigm) that explains how life emerged from non-life, how that life then evolved into all the millions of species we see around us today, how progress works, and how that same pattern also shows and explains how Toyota-Lexus and Volkswagen are the largest automotive manufacturers in the world today.

I’ll be interested to hear your feedback.

Continue reading

Posted in Meta-level, Strategy, The Escher Cycle | Leave a comment

Using meditation to get what you want

Leaders as varied as Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, and David Lynch have all used meditation as a way not only to let go of tension but also to connect deeply with who they are and what matters most to them.

Now science has revealed how it achieves this: meditation changes the connections in our brains.

You can read how and what this means for leadership in my latest blog post on The Churning.


Posted in The Churning | Leave a comment