Month: July 2011

Reducing the ‘Resource Intensity of Society’ ~ the critical driver for HE and FE

“In the #oneplanetworld how do we continually reduce the #resourceintensity of society? Do we rethink everything, or do we let the Earth do it for us?”

Resource Intensity of Society – “the resource used per person per unit of ‘essential goods and services’ created”.

Two things flow from this

  1. Non-essential processes add no value to society in a resource constrained world, their RI is effectively infinite
  2. The least resource intense process is the one that doesn’t exist.

The Oil Drum 30th July

It has been a constant theme in these columns that the global oil supply is under real threat. The facts to confirm this are everywhere if one were interested in pursuing the topic. (Google “Peak Oil” and see what comes up). A clear indication of a shift in supply is that Saudi Arabia, while it increased its output by 700,000 barrels per day, has kept more of its oil at home to benefit its own citizens with air-conditioning and desalinization projects.

So how do we confront a shrinking economy at work and at home? Brutal assessments will be the order of the day. Even though the top 10 percent of the population will manage to keep luxury businesses going for a time, the economy must shift away from businesses that feed the public’s desires to those that address what people need to survive.

Small enterprises will fare better. All businesses should start wondering whether their employees could get to work if they couldn’t afford to fill the gas tank. Is your business near a transit network? These are tough questions”.

“So how do we confront [and avoid] a shrinking economy at work and at home?” We do it by decoupling ‘service availability’ from ‘resource use’ as viewed from a ‘SystemUK’ perspective, by rethinking FE and HE to enable the creative reduction in the processes ’essential ’ to maximising our Quality of Life with the resources competitively available to us. We become continually more ‘effective’ as a society.

We don’t do it by trying to do what we are doing now more ‘efficiently’

Competitively winning constrained resources requires us to evolve and create organisations that can innovate as expressed in the presentation. Enabling the Future v1

Let’s not change a Challenging Adventure into an Impossible Challenge



On our failure to understand External Failure Demand

The World Economic Forum has just released a report ‘From Risk to Opportunity‘ that looks at six different themes

• The challenge of a shifting balance of power
• The challenge of natural resource scarcity
• The challenge of inclusive growth and equality
• The challenge of economic uncertainty
• The challenge of fragile states and new conflicts
• The challenge of global risk management

This is a wide ranging Report that this Blog will come back to, but it includes this comment that is critical to the situation we find ourselves in, as SystemUK, and Globally

“There are commonalities between all sorts of
disparate risks: the BP Gulf disaster, the terrorism
incident in Germany, Wikileaks, the euro zone crisis.
The interconnectedness is that they are all out of the
flow of day-to-day events. They are low probability
but high consequence events.”

Axel P. Lehmann, Member, Group Executive
Committee and Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich
Financial Services, Switzerland; Member of the Global
Agenda Council on Systemic Financial Risk

There was a time when organisations were increasingly aware of the work of thinkers in ‘Quality’ such as Deming, Juran and Crosby but those were simpler days and we have moved on to a confusing, reductionist world of CSR, Environment, H&S and Sustainability.

These ‘Quality Gurus’ understood the core concepts of Organisational Leadership’ and the costs of less than perfect ‘Quality’ of organisational and product/service performance , of not doing the right thing right, every time.

Central to this was understanding the risks and costs of external Failure Demand arising from actions that ignore the consequences of the economic, environmental or social downside of decisions. The News International disaster is a current example.

Unless we rediscover these eternal truths there is little possibility we can create ‘Sustainable’ organisations and societies, as Quality and Sustainability are just the two faces of the same coin and ‘Sustainable Development’ is the journey of continual improvement towards perfect ‘Quality’


R we 2 remain fixated on cuts, or will we start creatively reducing the #resourceintensity of SystemUK?

Yesterday in the Mail on Saturday Iain Martin contributed an article “Sorry to depress you but there will have to be even harsher spending cuts“. This perpetuates the myth that the world is still a multi-planet one without limits, as economics, as presently constituted assumes.

The reality is, however, that it is a ‘oneplanetworld’ where we are now bumping against resource limits and the balance of economic influence is shifting from the West to the East. ‘Cuts’ are now not the answer to our predicament and our future, not that they ever have been, if had had but the whit to realise.

We have to rethink ourselves as SystemUK against future of a limited and reducing access to energy and other resources, both in an absolute and competitive availability.

Critically we have to rethink how we govern ourselves in a oneplanetworld which is increasingly local and with the resource availability per person per unit of goods and services reducing.

Intelligent and creative Resource Intensity reduction, not knee-jerk ‘Cuts’ is the only way to retain a democratic, coherent and competitive SystemUK in the oneplanetworld.


Iain Martin Mail on Saturday 19 July 2011

…But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the present problems will not be a temporary phenomenon. This week, the newly-created Office of Budget Responsibility released a chilling report on Britain’s longer-term economic prospects. It said that our already high levels of debt will climb to more than 100 per cent of national output shortly after the middle of this century.

The cost of an ageing population — with more and more demands on the NHS — will increase pressure for much deeper spending cuts or big tax rises…..