Tag: future

Class & social mobility…comedy, sociology, news and art

Improvement No Comments

Some say the British are obsessed by class, witness this classic video.

However, in all countries social mobility is an interesting phenomenon to study – and depending on your politics – be concerned for.

With the A level results out in the UK today this heart-warming story from earlier this summer links A levels, university and social mobility- all in a very human and touching way.

If you are in London and at a loss for something to do over the next couple of days, do try to see the tapestries of Grayson Perry. Linked to his three TV programmes last year, they are a contemporary and creative take on class and mobility in modern Britain.


The meaning of life is…a project

Personal productivity No Comments

Did you see this BBC report of a study claiming retirement can be bad for your health?

I am struck how many of my ancestors never made it to 60, after years of working in hazardous environments like coal mines, factories or agriculture (or battle fields). Now there is a new problem of finding meaning in later life it seems. But, if older people do paid work for longer then some ask “what about having enough jobs for younger people”?

Talking yesterday at a family event I was struck how far those there who were in their 70s

1) Loved not working – and wouldn’t want to go back to it!

2) But they had found many other things to keep them active (from making furniture, improving their golf handicap, learning Italian, going for longs walks, helping younger and older relatives etc). Many of these were seen as projects. By the way, I notice that those who are independently wealthy at a younger age tend to keep working – with many projects on the go (from new business start ups, learning to paint, writing a book, funding a restaurant etc.)

Much of this ‘project’ approach involves happiness ingredients (helping others, paid or unpaid, counting your blessings etc.) – as outlined in this previous blog

One colleague reflecting on the BBC article and the conversations about it notes that a fashionable question at the moment is ‘what makes us human?’ Maybe a good answer might be “Projects” (paid or unpaid, it probably doesn’t matter).

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What have the Romans done?

Reflect No Comments

The Olympics are over (with the Paralympics to come – which I am very excited to be going to see in the main stadium).

There were great performances from many countries.  Even before ‘Always look on the bright side’ in the closing ceremony, we couldn’t help recalling the opening ceremony and how it triggered memories of The Monty Python sketch from Life of Brian.

What have the Brits ever done for us…

Whilst it ignored imperialism, the ceremony claimed:

The industrial revolution

The welfare state

The World wide web (much to the surprise of the Americans)

Confident humour

Leading music

As Gary Lineker summed it up: “Barmy, bonkers, British, Bold – Bravo Mr Boyle”

Keeping all this in mind for what might be a difficult next 12 months, could be useful – celebrating what is good as a platform for hard times ahead for many, after the summer and the forthcoming buzz of the Paralympics.

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The future of…..noise

Reflect No Comments

I was at the MCA in Sydney this week – great exhibition on time and clocks  (in the ‘seconds mater’, disorientating, modern, western sort of way). The new wing is pretty cool to look at – but deafening to wander around and, especially, to eat in. All block concrete and bouncing of airwaves.

Having mild tinnitus, and playing in a few bands, I am interested in noise.  And the future of noise.  I have a hunch that over the next 3 decades we will see noise in public places becoming a key issue (a bit like the journey on public smoking)

I have seen schools with impressive noise reduction in corridors (carpet on floor, soft display boards on walls) and there is already big business in managing acoustics in high end restaurants and offices. This site is starting to nudge in that direction with a focus on atmosphere.

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Being certain?

Think No Comments

What can we be totally confident in?

Donald Rumsfeld attracted significant interest and mocking for his (philosophically accurate) musings 10 years ago.

But even working out where is farthest from the sea in England is tricky.

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All the difference a day (and many years) makes

Plan No Comments

In a briefing in 2009  we took a long view of human history – well 100 years anyhow.

This week we have been thinking of a 30 year time frame: due to an event celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the BBC microcomputer and the massive changes that piece of kit heralded and a health care project that is looking three decades into the future.

We have stopped and thought about how the world has changed since 1982. ‘The Lion Sleeps tonight’ was number 1 in the UK this day thirty years ago, and in the time from then to today we have seen the collapse of the singles music market, whilst computing has moved rapidly to stylised phones with the ability to play music (as the technology for listening to music has cantered through CD and mp3 to streaming). In UK health care, spending has rocketed and HIV and many cancers are long term conditions.

It is easy to take the perspective of the ‘boiled frog’ and miss the many sings of change going on around us. In the FT this weekend, Simon Kuper lists a number of reasons to be cheerful  from growing GDP per person, increasing life expectancy and lowering fertility. And if you don’t like that, in The Sun Jeremy Clarkson challenges those who have been saying 1976 was the best time to be a child- he reckons today is best with Adele, iPods and better hay fever tablets (over Showaddywaddy, cassette tapes and boxes of tissues).

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working not Work

Reflect No Comments

Further to our recent post,  how far to keep busy for a fulfilled life,  how much do you like working (hobbies, home improvement, keeping up with people) but not Work ( – capital W…ie paid activity to cover your costs)? 

How far could you align the two – doing the sort of projects you love, for a living? 

What would be your most beautiful career, if you could create it?

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The Need to Diversify

Plan No Comments

When the Eden Project opened there was a massive local boom. Evidently now, in recessionary times, many have decided they only need to visit just once.  The impact on the local community is seen in decreasing house prices and less tourists.


An annual admission is the same as a single visit price.

They are diversifying…

– With music events (including heavy dance artist)

– Education – for adults as well as children

– And with health activities – such as tutored walks for those with heart and breathing difficulties.

Do you need to diversity?  What could you do?

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Signs and wonders?

Reflect No Comments

When away recently, we were amazed at the volcanic landscape around Spain’s highest mountain top.

It got us thinking about the classic 7 wonders of the world  and the competition to be the 8th.

In a summer of depressing defining moments in UK public life – what with the news around the global economy, media hacking and riots – what have you seen recently that has dazzled and delighted you…that has encouraged and filled you with wonder?

We start most of our web surveys with a question probing what is going well or giving hope. 

As ‘first things are fateful’ , where will you put your attention this autumn?

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DIY scenario planning

Plan No Comments

Phil and Ross first worked together using scenario planning techniques in the mid-90s.

In the mid-noughties, they wrote a piece using the Mont Fleur scenarios from South Africa as a metaphor for approaches to improving the NHS.

Now they are doing a couple of scenario-esque  projects where the overall framework from the Mont Fleur project is being used to help groups tease out their fears and hopes – and what might determine those paths.

The template below can be blown up and tried with a group you know. Think of ‘yes/no’ questions around what might happen to the critical external trends or uncertainties in the environment you’re in and then see if you can map the responses to the appropriate Mont Fleur metaphors for where the future may end up.

scenario mont fleur template

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