Publishing ‘All Systems Go!’

Jan 18, 2014

We are delighted to announce a new publication from the Director of the Leadership Centre, Joe Simpson, ‘All Systems Go!’.  It takes a closer look at how public services and political leadership interact with human behaviour, networks and systems. Against a backdrop of public services operating with significantly reduced budgets and unprecedented demand, alongside dipping public confidence in political processes, All Systems Go! seeks to explain and describe what a systems approach would look and feel like in this environment.

The book is designed to act as an aide to leaders needing to switch back and forth between traditional management practices and more systemic approaches.

Given the current level of complexity, we can see why simple solutions do not work. We can also see why the tendency to revert to a great structural reorganisation, whilst giving the pretence of change, is normally offered as a substitute for change. Within a systems perspective, Joe instead advocates the adoption of that rowing adage, ‘Does it make us go faster?’ Perhaps the best recent illustration of this has been Dave Beresford’s approach with Team Sky cycling. That involved a culture of continuous adaptation. Each adaptation might make only a marginal difference, but collectively they made the team world beaters.

All Systems Go! touches on the importance of compelling storytelling or ‘public narrative’ as a way to motivate, engage and unify staff and citizens as well as guarding against the danger of any organisation becoming introspective. Joe suggests that any wider understanding of systems thinking requires leaders to look outwards, and to seek connections, otherwise leaders run the risk of being in the ‘echo chamber’, hearing only internal voices. Recognising that change is both difficult and usually also non-linear, he also urges leaders to be more explorative, encouraging continual testing and local experimentation.

‘All Systems Go!’ is available online here.


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