The Hidden Power


New Podcast: The Hidden Power

Season 1, Ep. 0

New release date - Saturday October 10th - Episode 1, Ed Straw on the Hidden Power.

We live in confusing times - and a lot of that confusion is about where power lies. With Ed Straw, former chair of Demos and consultant to government, & Philip Tottenham.

In 2017 the UN, the WHO and the OECD all called for the use of Systems Thinking to deal with highly complex problems. But what does that mean?

In Series 1 "Proof of Concept" we explore power - power in terms traditional ideas about it, and in terms of beneficial impact on the ground - and hear from people thinking and operating at the leading edge of where beneficial impact is taking place.

More Episodes


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. This in 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, to set 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