Systems Thinking

Energy and the UK OBR Fiscal Sustainability Report

The second Fiscal Sustainability Report published by the UK Office of Budget Responsibly appears to make no reference to energy other than to falling North Sea Revenues. Important though this is, it is the statement that productivity will continue to increase at the long run 2%, without justification, that is the critical issue.

Productivity has been, and is, intensely energy dependent and here is significant discussion about the amount of easily won energy moving forward from this point, and the value of the useful net energy it yields; not least within the International Monetary Fund.

Energy use and GDP are historically closely correlated and projections that ignore this are suspect at best and probably meaningless.

This a strategic mistake as it fails to focus the available National creativity on the search for energy and resource intensity reduction in UK economic activity at system level.

At the moment, all efforts are aimed at marginal energy and resource intensity improvements at micro level.

dd

See also Energy, economy and the impending rite of passage

Advertisements

Why the military must(n’t) invade our schools

In yesterday’s Telegraph there was an article titled ‘Why the Military must invade our schools’ and whilst this might have a simplistic attraction in the situation we find ourselves in as a society, it fails to address the reality we are now in. Fragmented as society of’ individuals’ in a future where the Common Good must be placed centre stage as the energy and resource intensity of our society, SystemUK, inevitably falls.

Radio and Television programmes abound, Panorama last night for instance, but none recognise this fundamental reality. The Seventies were the beginning of the future we are now in, only with outcomes differed was a result of the exploitation of North Sea Oil. Which we squandered on Business as Usual, creating no reserve for the transition to the future we are in.

As a consequence, neither did we educate for this reality and the common purpose and action this future requires. The ‘Service for the Nation’ required of us all.

We are now in a world of fire-fighting failure demand and looking for End of Pipe solutions to Society’s Failure Demand. Such is the reasoning behind ResPublica’s genuine concern. Failing schools, send in the military to sort out the problems.

But we are all in this together for the Common Good, and whilst it is eminently sensible to encourage military personnel to take up the work mentioned in the article, dealing with the issues in separate boxes does not solve the problems at system level, SystemUK.

We thought resources were plentiful, to squander as we thought fit as individuals, rather than the reality; limited and needing to be marshalled for the Common Good.

In this future we must all be expected to act for the Common Good, bankers included!. This can only be achieved by educating for and implementing, universal and compulsory ‘Service for the Nation’ , not military discipline in a forlorn attempt to contain the Failure Demand created by not doing the right thing right as a Society.

There are difficult times ahead but we must start now if we are to ensure a coherent and competitive society rather than a failing one. There are scenarios out there we do not   need to let happen.

dd

Service for the Nation

The financial crisis and the current Banking furore illustrates our failure to educate for ‘Service for the Nation’. An understanding inbuilt in citizens of the benefits they receive from society and their responsibility for it, together with an appreciation of how this impacts global societies.

We seem to have lost this quality in ourselves and it is increasingly degrading our Quality of Life.

On it depends our survival as a coherent society with an acceptable Quality of Life for all.

Here are some of my thoughts

DD

A 21st Century National Service

The UK Government has introduced a requirement for 11 year olds, starting secondary education in September 2009 to stay in Education or training until they are 18.

There is currently much debate about how this translates into positive outcomes and Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity, which is the outcome least required as we shift paradigms into the OPW. A 2005 OFSTED report finding that only 12% of 19 to 30 year olds interviewed thought that school had enabled them to be creative or understand risk.

In addition the change to fee paying in Further and Higher Education has led to most learners deciding to stay local to complete their education.

Similarly, with no form of National Service, young people not in continuing education experience no other input than their local area and as a result, in most cases, have no expectations beyond their limited boundaries. There is clear evidence that this is causing a dependency culture and an underclass, as is being widely reported.

So where do we stand at the start of a new decade and halfway through the UN Decade for sustainable Development 2005-2014?

It can be stated

◦       There is a wide spread of achievement output from the UK’s Education System

◦       This is aimed at satisfying a paradigm that no longer exists.

◦       This results in high youth unemployment.

◦       Leading to disaffection and continuing underachievement.

◦       And withdrawal from involvement in the wider society

◦       Causing violence and crime, fuelled in many cases by drugs.

Clearly, increasing the age of compulsory education will have no effect on this vicious circle unless we recognise the paradigm we need to educate for is shifting rapidly as we move into the One Planet World.

We have to recognise, as stated throughout this article that education has to liberate the creativity that will enable citizens to help create the OPW within the UK. This can only be achieved through ‘service above self’.

This is not the politically correct thing to say at this time, but it is central to any future that can be envisaged in a UK of around 70 million citizens.

Conclusion

Our conception of National Service is coloured by its compulsory and in many cases arbitrary nature, where outcomes were not tailored to the needs of individuals, or even society.

This is not the aim of Service for the Nation; the aim is to provide rounded citizens with a range of knowledge and skills appropriate to their talents and the creativity to use them effectively and efficiently in helping create the One Planet World.

This does not mean that military service will not be part of the mix for those attracted to such service and we need to acknowledge the part played in current conflicts by our young people.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel as there are service organizations, Scouts etc. who know how to create future citizens and leaders that we can use as templates.

These things are critical

◦       There must be an element of compulsion for all to contribute in their own way.

◦       There must be a controlled but significant element of risk.

◦       Service should be away from home for realistic periods

◦       Learning and work undertaken must result in value added to society.

◦       All must have access to achieve to laid down standards

◦       Rank must be available for significant leadership ability.

Many will argue that this cannot be afforded but the real question is “can we afford, not to be able to afford it?” – if the alterative is societal collapse.


Greece and Essential Value, a letter to a friend

To Catarina Tully at From over Here

Hi Cat

Sir David King has just made the following statement: Sir David King lambasts Treasury for preventing green economic recovery http://bit.ly/M1AxgG

How do we get the message across that it is not about ‘resource efficiency’ but about the ‘effective’ use of resources creating ‘essential value’. This is not an easy discussion to have, but if we don’t face up to this as a society we will end up in the situation in the book just released. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jun/08/why-uk-no-longer-superpower

If we continue to muddle along on the basis that completely free enterprise can find a way forward when the marginal cost of producing a barrel of oil is over $90 and the useful energy remaining is on a downward trajectory, we are deluded. http://vimeo.com/43261566

We see in Greece the effects of the reducing Energy and Resource Intensity of a Society and Economic Block that does not recognise what is really happening.

Chandran Nair does recognise this and is doing his best to make Asia aware of the situation: as Asia tries to grow using the multi-planet paradigm this contagion can only spread. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_CL2imxmeE

These are Global issues but we must act as SystemUK if we are to be competitive and provide inspiration to others on the art of the possible. Are we the innately ingenious people we think we are, or was our prosperity purely a result of the Energy and Resource Intensity we were able to exploit?

The answer is probably a lot of both and we need to recognise this if we are not to squander this innate creatively and ingenuity as the Energy and Resource Intensity of SystemUK inevitably falls.

Regards

Derek

https://trailblazerbusinessfutures.wordpress.com/governance/seminar-resources/lc/


My letter in the Professional Engineering Journal 2007

Engineers are supposed to be mathematically literate but a simple understanding of compound interest is all that is needed to see that the current predictions of growth are the pipe dreams of economists.

Take a chess board and put one unit on the first square, 2 on the second and 4 on the third and continue doubling up. The time to each doubling is 70 divided by the rate of growth i.e. 7%/annum is equal to 10 years.

Add the squares together 1+2+4 = 7 i.e. the sum of all previous doublings is less than the value on the next square – 8

Oil was first commercially exploited in 1859 and we are now at around 30 billion barrels/year and on the 32nd square. At the present rate of growth we will need more oil in the next 20+ years than in the previous 150!

Even if this amount of oil exists, finding, extracting and applying unknown technologies to turn the poor quality, heavy, and polluted crude we obtain into useable product is clearly not possible on this time scale.

And that’s without the climate crisis and the fact that we need a fair amount of the remaining oil to create a low carbon future.

Derek

Derek Deighton MIQA AIEMA AMIMechE

Coordinator, Northwest Engineering Institutions, Sustainability Joint Venture

Northwest Energy Forum

Trailblazer Business Futures, Business and Built Environment Systems Integration

Helping create the One Planet World through creative partnerships

The Circular Economy and Product Lifecycle

I placed this comment on the Interface Blog at http://bit.ly/L0ZmbZ

There seems to be a fundamental error in the interpretation of the Circular Economy as propounded by Michael Braungart. http://vimeo.com/2362082

The assumption is that we try to make products last longer. Braungart says that if we maintain the integrity of the technical and nutrient cycles and use Cradle to Cradle design, then the shorter the life cycle, the faster learning and improvement will take place.

Braungart also reprises the core tenet of Quality; that it is about doing the ‘Right Thing Right, every time’

This highlights the reality that must drive the Circular Economy, that it must only create the ‘Essential Value’ needed by society. It cannot be used as an excuse for vicariously tying up constrained resources for non-essential use.

The greatest task facing us is for societies to define and create this essential value whilst maintaining freedom and democracy.

dd

Deming Revisited for a Physically Resource Constrained Global Economy

W Edwards Deming did his celebrated work in an era when environmental and social constraints where not at the forefront of managerial minds and his body of work can be interpreted as a method of maximising solely economic profit.

Although Deming was a child of his times; it is clear from the Preface to ‘Out of Crisis’ that he was reaching out to the Concept of Sustainable Development. Which I define as the process of continual improvement on the journey to perfect Quality and Deming would recognise as his, holistically defined.

Deming said in the Preface  “Performance of management should be measured by the potential to stay in Business, to protect investment.. to protect jobs through improvement of product and service for the future, not by quarterly dividend”.

We have now passed through a period of perhaps 30+ years where environmental and social process failures were seen as an add on burden to organisational management but now, in the resource constrained future we find ourselves in, we have to see them for what they are, core survival issues, and we must be treat them as such by revisiting Deming’s teaching.

As Deming said “Survival is not Compulsory”

Deming Laid down his teaching in 14 points, interpreted at http://www.hci.com.au/hcisite2/articles/deming.htm as

1.”Create constancy of purpose towards improvement”. Replace short-term reaction with long-term planning.

2.”Adopt the new philosophy”. The implication is that management should actually adopt his philosophy, rather than merely expect the workforce to do so.

3.”Cease dependence on inspection”. If variation is reduced, there is no need to inspect manufactured items for defects, because there won’t be any.

4.”Move towards a single supplier for any one item.” Multiple suppliers mean variation between feedstocks.

5.”Improve constantly and forever”. Constantly strive to reduce variation.

6.”Institute training on the job”. If people are inadequately trained, they will not all work the same way, and this will introduce variation.

7.”Institute leadership”. Deming makes a distinction between leadership and mere supervision. The latter is quota- and target-based.

8.”Drive out fear”. Deming sees management by fear as counter- productive in the long term, because it prevents workers from acting in the organisation’s best interests.

9.”Break down barriers between departments”. Another idea central to TQM is the concept of the ‘internal customer’, that each department serves not the management, but the other departments that use its outputs.

10.”Eliminate slogans”. Another central TQM idea is that it’s not people who make most mistakes – it’s the process they are working within. Harassing the workforce without improving the processes they use is counter-productive.

11.”Eliminate management by objectives”. Deming saw production targets as encouraging the delivery of poor-quality goods.

12.”Remove barriers to pride of workmanship”. Many of the other problems outlined reduce worker satisfaction.

13.”Institute education and self-improvement”.

14.”The transformation is everyone’s job”.

To be continued…

See also https://trailblazerbusinessfutures.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/re-defining-quality/

Strategic Thinking in UK Governance

The UK Public Accounts Committee has recently carried out a consultation exercise on ‘Strategic Thinking in Government’. A link to the submission made by me can be found below.

dd

Background to the consultation

Reasons for the inquiry

 In October 2010 PASC published a report, ‘Who does UK National Strategy?’, which concluded: The answer we received to the question, “Who does UK Grand Strategy?” is: no-one … As things stand there is little idea of what the UK’s national interest is, and therefore what our strategic purpose should be.

 Background

 The global system is increasingly multipolar, with power shifting East, potentially diffusing to international institutions and to different non-state actors (like civil society, business, high-net worth individuals, cities and regions, sovereign wealth funds, Diaspora groups, international multi-stakeholder fora).

 The development in social media that harnesses the ‘wisdom of crowds’, cyber-advances, and other technological progress is transforming the context of policy making. This challenges the capacity and nature of government but also provides opportunities for both stronger engagements with the public and clearer national leadership.

 The complex and unpredictable nature of many global issues, which stem from multiple and interrelated problems, require systems-based and evidence-based analyses if emergent strategy is to be effective and efficient. Within this context, many countries (including the UK) face implicit, diffuse and unpredictable risks, rather than explicit and identifiable threats.

 In a previous report, we identified a deficit of strategic capacity across Government. In its initial inquiry, the Committee found “little evidence of sustained strategic thinking or a clear mechanism for analysis and assessment. This leads to a culture of fire-fighting rather than long-term planning”.

 We wish to assess what progress has been made since then.

 Response to the PASC Consultation on Strategic Thinking in Government v2