Cool technology

As I write, it’s been a good month for global environmental agreements. First, the Paris Agreement was ratified and so entered into force on 4 November 2016. Although some environmentalists will rightly say that it’s currently inadequate, it is an extremely significant step forward. This is because it’s setting a very clear signal about the direction of travel, and smart businesses are very good at responding to this. Trillions of $ of investment are starting to flow in new directions, and many companies are investing for the new reality, significantly ahead of governments and regulators. Continue reading Cool technology

To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Probably the best known ideation technique of all is brainstorming.  In this, a group of around 6-12 people get together to develop new ideas, guided by a facilitator and a few basic rules. These rules can be summarised as

  • build on previous ideas,
  • encourage wild ideas,
  • go for quantity,
  • no negativity.

Continue reading To brainstorm, or not to brainstorm?

Voyaging into an uncertain future.

The world can seem an uncertain, dangerous place at the moment.  As I write, the consequences of the Brexit vote are still uncertain in a wide range of fields. The Labour party is in turmoil, Syria is in rather worse turmoil, terrorism continues, climate change continues, and we look with incredulity at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Continue reading Voyaging into an uncertain future.

Fixing combie boilers that fire up when the cold tap is used.

I often wonder how much energy is wasted in the UK for no benefit whatsoever.

About a month ago, after we’d had a few plumbing jobs done,  we noticed that our Combie boiler was turning itself on every time we used a cold tap.  Or more precisely,  the boiler turned itself on briefly, a few seconds after we turned a cold tap off. Continue reading Fixing combie boilers that fire up when the cold tap is used.

Creativity in times of uncertainty

Given the recent political turmoil, with Brexit, terrorist outrages and leadership elections all over the place,  it’s easy to feel unsettled.  This sense of unease can have knock-on consequences on our ability to be creative and come up with new ideas, even in the nominally separate world of R&D. Continue reading Creativity in times of uncertainty

Breaking the cycle of distrust

Whatever happens as a result of the current political turmoil, we’ll have to work together and be creative if we’re to solve the problems ahead of us.

I believe that an underlying problem is that over the last few decades, particularly in the English-speaking world, we’ve developed a box ticking culture in many of our institutions which involves a cycle of lack of trust, fear, risk aversion and micromanagement.  This plays out in our political systems, our education system, our healthcare systems, our banks and many corporations. It is damaging creativity, and making it increasingly impossible for leaders to lead. Continue reading Breaking the cycle of distrust

Building a better Britain

The vote to leave the EU is disappointing, but it’s the clear democratic voice of the UK, so we’ll have to do it. The next few years are going to be a time of huge turmoil, and there will be major changes.

However it’s clear that for many, the vote is a cry of pain, rather than something that has been carefully thought through.   This means we need to look at how to ensure that Brexit is done in a way that addresses the root causes of the distress, rather than making it worse.

I believe that  those of us that care about peace, justice and a healthy environment  should urgently articulate an inspiring progressive vision for an independent Britain. Continue reading Building a better Britain

Invent a better light bulb

Ask who invented the light bulb, and most people will say “Edison”

He didn’t of course, but I always think the story of the multiple inventors of the light bulb sheds some interesting light on the distributed way that innovation really happens: The person that gets the credit is very seldom the sole contributor, and it all takes a lot longer than people think. Continue reading Invent a better light bulb

Breaking the Cycle of Distrust: developing creativity and empathy in a challenging world.

This is a summary of my longer article, first published by Friends of the Earth, and available here

It’s very clear that the next generation will need to do better than us if they’re to resolve the huge environmental and economic challenges ahead of us, build a better society and provide wellbeing for 8-10 billion people while using less resources than at present. They will need innovators, but educational systems in many countries – not least the UK – are killing rather than fostering creativity. Continue reading Breaking the Cycle of Distrust: developing creativity and empathy in a challenging world.