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April, 2019

Magical Newton

August, 2017

Not the briar patch, Brer Trump!

March, 2017

A Serious Case of the DTs

January, 2017

The American Yeltsin
Sunlight Through Troubled Times
Beyond Zealots and Cold-War Warriors

December, 2016

A Vandal at the Gates of Rome

October, 2016

Are you conscious?

September, 2016

Brave New World?

August, 2016

Stop, for a moment.

July, 2016

Rupert's Coup

March, 2016

Between a Shill and a Hard Case

July, 2015

Swimming in a sea of sugar

June, 2015

Information Rich, Attention Poor
Nerds need to get out more ...

March, 2015

There is a homunculus at the end of the garden path

October, 2014

Welcome Home
Determination, not dreams
Addicted to GDP
Irony?Karma? - take your pick

August, 2014

History? Whose story?
Marketing Ebola

July, 2014

As above, so below

December, 2013

A time for tolerance

November, 2013

Thinking out of the xBox
The old ones are the best ones ...
Welcome to the Gulag

October, 2013

A timely response to spying

September, 2013

Obedience and the Machine
Ban the bible?
Fracticide - don't do it.

July, 2013

Serfing, USUK

June, 2013

Deafened by gossip

May, 2013

Who needs words...?

April, 2013

It must be true
Why would they stop?

March, 2013

Beyond belief

February, 2013

RBS: doing Fine, not Time
Pillars tumbling down
Trouble with models
A matter of perspective

January, 2013

Royal Promo
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Boson Brains Rule

November, 2012

Burning symbols

October, 2012

Charles and Jimmy's little secret
Happy Birthday
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A Reality Check

August, 2012

A journey through riotous times

July, 2012

Caring for life
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June, 2012

A cynical ploy
Collateral damage for The United States of Europe
Will you walk into my parlour?
Beams and motes
From one Jubilee to another

May, 2012

A crazy idea
The course of time
Sorry, Harry

April, 2012

Cracks in the Rear-View Mirror
A keeper of sheeple
Principled Policing
Say goodbye to Betty
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Manufactured irrelevance
Corporate responsibility

March, 2012

Poppycock - without question
Who's pushing your buttons?
Investigate the Blair-Murdoch Conspiracy

February, 2012

In Praise of The Seven Liberal Arts
The real story
When giving is taking
Giving it all away

November, 2011

Poking a hornets nest
Wealth of Nations poured away
Squeaky and the Paedophile Prince
Boiling frogs
Death of an industry
Change blindness
What a world ...

October, 2011

Pictures and words
Screeching to a halt.
Taxing noise

September, 2011

Hand over your money
Breeding psychopaths
Mr Fox, is the hen house safe?
A ludicrous Conspiracy Theory
Can you believe your eyes?
Getting eye contact
Partners in Crime

July, 2011

It was the Wettins 'wot won it'

May, 2011

Heir apparently

April, 2011

Putting Emergencies in Context
Underground networks travelling First Class

March, 2011

Be careful what you ask for
Water - a tale of two countries
Here we go again ...
Wake up!!!

February, 2011

The right stuff
Revolution! ... and yet, and yet.
Follow the money
Shh - don't tell the children
Does the MoD have a Cunning Plan?

January, 2011

Met Office caught in winter weather whitewash
Read between the lines
The new parable of Noah
Banking on People

November, 2010

Wettins don't say sorry
It's just not fair ...
Remember, remember ...

October, 2010

Kindness sees no crime
Pundits in the frame
Killer drones target the middle class
A tale of two Charlies

September, 2010

A failure to discriminate ...
Good Grief
A rent-boy's rent-boy

August, 2010

Size psycho-fancy
Baiting a Wikid Trap?

July, 2010

... at the gates of Rome
Monday musings

June, 2010

Guilty - but not charged
Psychopaths at the door

May, 2010

ConDemned to the Shock Doctor
Driven by metaphor
Guns and Banksters
Death of Old Conker

April, 2010

Bankster at bay ...
Nuke Iceland?

March, 2010

It's how you say it ...
Bullying Manner
Quelle surprise!
Iceland - showing the way.

February, 2010

Small steps to a far place
Seeds of silence

January, 2010

So who needs people?
Late and censored
Freedom for life

December, 2009


October, 2009

Fools served by Zombies
BBC dogs that didn't bark ...

September, 2009

Taken Hostage

August, 2009

Have a good weekend ...
High Frequency Trading ...
Money money money
Fit for a politician

July, 2009

Inside clouds

June, 2009

Fond thoughts of Tony Blair ...
A good day ...
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May, 2009

aaah diddums
Zal may ...

April, 2009

Echos of a dark past
Sharks in the Shadows
Worlds Apart

January, 2009

Money Matters
Killing History

December, 2008

Home improvements
Get the Picture?

November, 2008

Barak - the movie

October, 2008

Won't get fooled again
Bankers, all of them!

September, 2008

And The Winner is ...
Light relief
A Financial 9/11
That's Lucky!
On this day

August, 2008

Mark My Words

July, 2008

The Management Myth
Sense Making Questions

June, 2008

Beware this Griffin
42 Day Folly
A Tortured Silence

May, 2008

A new Dawn needed
Is Justin Webb A Neo-Con?
The Puppy, the Mountain and the Fascists

April, 2008

Attention Pays

March, 2008

Fat Cats and Pork Pies
Fed up Darling?
Swearing - it's just not British!
Mark My Words   29 August 2008

I have just received an email from an old friend. His update on work went something like this: my company (small, successful) has merged with another (large, failing) company. The outcome of negotiations is that the new company will be run by the executive team from the larger, failed company and according to their business model which has served them “so well these last few years”!

Pamela's response to this story was to recount how many times she had seen failure rewarded by promotion. That got me thinking.

In the early nineties I worked on a very large (more than 1000 man-years) IT project. I was contracted to IBM who ran the whole project, integrating various client companies and lots of independent contractors such as me. I really enjoyed the project: it was technically challenging, the IBM Laboratory at Hursley was a great place to work and I made some good friends there, particularly Gymnasium Jim.

Inevitably there were problems and delays. A key difficulty was to do with the sheer complexity of what we were trying to do. (The Agile development methodologies that emerged later were a direct response to these kinds of developmental problems.) I have worked on several very large projects and inevitably each becomes more and more complicated until they are just plain unstable.

Well, we hit that point on this project, just before we were supposed to make a nice clean delivery of code. Now, for that code to be delivered each software developer had to sign off on his or her bit, stating that it worked. But the problem was that many of the interlocking bits did not work. So what did the IBM senior project manager (lets call him 'Christian') do? He went round and instructed the developers to sign off their code, even though they knew it did not work. There would be some flack from the client when the code failed during testing, but so what? They were over a barrel and it would just mean more (re-)work for IBM (and thus more money from a captive client).

Years later, when I was Managing Director of Valtech I had an excellent team of guys (led by 'the bloke from Stoke') helping IBM with the technical parts of a large IT project. The team used to tell me how IBM kept instructing their developers to promote and sign off on code, even though they knew it was not ready. Now here is an interesting thing, the boss of IBM on site was none other than poor old Christian, who had been promoted in the mean time. There he was, still trying to push it uphill.

Christian's story is a common one, most people in large organisations are familiar with the standard response to corporate failure: blame the innocent, reward the guilty, announce a success and continue in the same old way. But why is this so common? What is going on? Why don't we learn?

You see, deep down, we resist learning. There is an emotional component to learning something really new (as against more of the same) which means it hurts. The pain comes because we are attached to our present state.

Learning means we have to change. Change means letting go of old, familiar ways of doing and being. Change means embracing the unknown. You will be different after you have learned something.

If it has not hurt, you have probably not learnt. It is difficult enough when you are the one doing the learning, but if you are trying to help someone else change – stand back from the fan!

Learning involves reflection and takes time, but our corporate and social compulsion to 'do' gets in the way. We have to deliver more and more, to work harder and harder, for longer and longer hours. We don't have time to reflect, and even if we do our colleagues probably don't have time to listen.

People who want to learn, who want to understand, tend to ask awkward questions, they make us feel uncomfortable. We reward those around us who do not learn because they let us feel comfortable, they do not challenge us.

Christian will probably be rewarded and retire after a long and 'successful' career with IBM, but the sad thing is that he may never have learned anything of any real importance.

Posted by Nicholas Moore    12:52:03 am