The Hidden Power

How power really works.

Why doesn’t government work?Is it the politicians, the civil servants, the political parties?Or is it the system in which they all operate?The Hidden Power goes behind the headlines and the sporting spectacle of modern p

Where is the Power? With Ed Straw

Season 1, Ep. 1
This episode introduces the experience and current thinking of my co-presenter, Ed Straw.We talk about his journey from being an engineering graduate to consulting at the heart of Westminster, how he encountered power and the confusion surrounding it.Then we get into his current thinking - he’s now a research fellow at the Open University’s Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Group, and has found in Systems Thinking many effective responses to issues that have plagued governments down the decades.Ed Straw: (full podcast!) story of General Motors' collaboration with Toyota is a great rehearsal of how systemic change can work, and the relevant challenges: Edwards Demming, genius behind Japanese revolution in manufacturing: that revolution: of Drawing the Boundary to Systems Thinking: Compassionate Frome Project: and EDD:'s story, told in more length and depth on Survival of the Kindest: world example in Australia:

Progress in the Field of Child Protection with Eileen Munro

Season 1, Ep. 2
Professor Eileen Munro turned decades of inadequate child protection on its head with one simple question: are we helping or hindering the front line?In this episode, she reflects on the successes - and revealing failures - of her review into child protection. Eileen covers a lot of ground in a short space of time. It is fascinating.Talking points:Centralised processes can't protect children, and this centralisation is an unavoidable consequence of the current state of governanceHow child protection can work much better, when the system is re-aligned to its purposeKey role of feedback, service sampling, education, and the news media.In our commentary Ed and I pick up on these and other points, specifically the governmental conditions that allowed for success, and especially: leaders believing they have grasped the systemic nature of necessary change, when in reality they haven’t. What to do? Find out in this concentrated and stimulating episode.The Munro Review into Child Protection: Munro:LSE Guardian: on what child protection actually entails(podcast)(listener alert - not for the feint-hearted):

Authorising Change at Ground Level with Julian Corner

Season 1, Ep. 3
Where is the power?Julian Corner used a process of local ‘action enquiry' to bring about effective social change. Thisin places where, as he puts it, a system of ‘care' is effectively a system of oppression -siloed, systematised, and more focussed on privileging its own rules than on the value of human care.In this episode he talks about these challenges, and how this ‘action enquiry' model has allowed them to ask bigger, harder questions, or as he says "to navigate the uncertainty, to reveal what there is to be revealed, to adapt strategies - to connect new things together" - and, crucially, to create a community of fellow enquirers.Improvement flows from the enquiry: to learn is to change.As Ed points out in our discussion, we all have the opportunity, when the system of governance isn’t working for us, toset up alternatives."These institutions are essentially inventions of the mind," he says, "and they always need to be refreshed... deconstructed, and reconstructed."About Julian Corner: person view of what “complex problems” actually amounts to - George the Poet - episode 1 is pretty inspiring, also the episode on the Grenfell Tower tragedy: (Not John!) Peel’s Principles - No. 7:“To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”Full article:'s_principlesNaGeneral discussion of national service: of national service in France: