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:

Governance and Cyberspace

Season 1, Ep. 4
John Naughton, tech columnist at The Observer Newspaper,talks about that great Wild West of our time - Cyberspace. From its roots in “permissionless innovation” to the staggering dominance of a very small number of companies over most aspects of our lives, he surveys the absence of governance, and how two effective sovereigns - Apple and Google - have appropriated powers normally associated with sovereign powers of territorial control.In our discussion Ed and I pick up on the de-globalisation of the internet, the digital divide and on surveillance capitalism - and while it turns out these problems are not new, the perennial importance of Truth to our Age of Enlightenment once again comes to the fore.Talking points:Weaknesses in our systems of governing are at the root of the souring of social media.Constitutions can and must have provisions to ensure governments, politicians and citizens deal in reality.The basics would be - independent feedback, deliberative democracy and measures to minimise the culture of lies and inflamation.Most of our main challenges are bewilderingly complex, and they will never be solved through adversarial two-line posts. But they might well be mitigated by inclusive, deliberative conversations.John Naughton: Naughton in the Guardian: we were discussing:’s dominance in search, as a graph that is well worth a view: and truth - mainstream media turns out to be the biggest amplifier of White House disinformation: problems are not new (1984 interview): MOYERS: What I see and hear deals more with the emotions than what I read.TONY SCHWARTZ: That’s right. We are in the business of using PR in a new manner, not in the old print terms of press relations. We are using PR as people’s reactions, personal retrieval of your feelings and associations. PR — people’s recall, of their experiences. PR — planning reactions. That’s our whole new business. It’s a PR business, planning reactions.BILL MOYERS: But isn’t it manipulating people to in effect tell them what they’re feeling instead of telling them what they need to know to vote?TONY SCHWARTZ: I use the word not manipulation, I say partipulation.BILL MOYERS: Partipulation?TONY SCHWARTZ: You have to participate in your own manipulation. In that, you’re bringing things to your manipulation. If you don’t want to participate in it, you could turn off the commercial. You could tune it out. But there are things that get into you. And that’s the participation.The global network of local internets is a step closer: - Facial recognition and racial profiling - cautionary tale: spelling out of the substance and scope of surveillance capitalism (Alexander Nix/Cambridge Analytica): in China article (MIT):’s AI Surveillance State goes global: - More on Cyberspace and Governance - Preet Bharara (NY state prosecutor dismissed by Donald Trump after refusing to resign) talks to John Carlin, the US Justice Department’s former head of the National Security Division: world is awash with bullshit: - The Social Dilemma:https://www.thesocialdilemma.com

Post-Crash Analysis and Preflight Checklist

Season 1, Ep. 6
For this final episode of series 1, I wanted to build on Buckminster Fuller's idea of our planet - our habitat and life-support system - as being like a spaceship - Spaceship Earth, as he calls it - and building on this idea to use two related models for our discussion: the post-crash analysis and the preflight checklistFirst we look at the globally used post-crash analysis as a model for investigating governance - "It's important that they are not looking to blame someone," Ed says.Then we get onto Ed's Preflight checklist - essentially a renewal of our global social contracts, or constitutions, as they are known, that would take into account the conditions necessary for our survival.Finally we hear from Gerald Midgley, philosopher on human systems and founding father of systems thinking as an intentional discipline, spelling out with some excitement the impact of what in many respects has been his life's work.Gerald Midgley:’s preflight checklist for planet Earth: Munro(Episode 2 Contributor) advocating post crash analysis model to address culture of blame in child protection: checklists - great article overall, if you want to cut straight to flying fortress story go about 1/4 of the way in, paragraph opening “On October 30, 1935, at Wright Air Field in Dayton, Ohio…” October 30, 1935, at Wright Air Field in Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. Army Air Corps held a flight competition for airplane manufacturers vying to build its next-generation long-range bomber. It wasn’t supposed to be much of a competition. In early evaluations, the Boeing Corporation’s gleaming aluminum-alloy Model 299 had trounced the designs of Martin and Douglas. Boeing’s plane could carry five times as many bombs as the Army had requested; it could fly faster than previous bombers, and almost twice as far. A Seattle newspaperman who had glimpsed the plane called it the “flying fortress,” and the name stuck. The flight “competition,” according to the military historian Phillip Meilinger, was regarded as a mere formality. The Army planned to order at least sixty-five of the aircraft.On the Psychology of Military Incompetence Lessons from the Blue Zones: on Purpose:Listen to Why Cornel West is hopeful (but not optimistic) from Future Perfect on Apple Podcasts. to the Anthropocene:, via some very interesting maps: