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Postcards from Scotland

Unreasonable learners - 3rd newsletter

In May 2009 the Centre ran a masterclass with Professor John Seddon who is very critical of the target driven culture which has become fashionable in many organisations, arguing that it undermines staff morale and ironically performance. Following this the Centre was involved with a variety of organisations in Scotland, led by Gordon Hall of the Deming Network, who are all similarly committed to much more bottom up approaches to organisational change. We helped to host a couple of meetings which spawned a new network called Unreasonable Learners. They have now set up a new organisation called 'Unreasonable Learners'. Their website is worth visiting.

They have now issed a third newsletter which we've pasted below.

Unreasonable Learners
Newsletter 3 - August 2011
1.     Calendar - under "Events" the UL site now has a calendar facility.
2.     Holyrood Stand - our thoughts re the stand at Holyrood 22-24th November
3.     Committee Room at Holyrood - Mike McCarron has arranged a committee room at The Scottish Parliament for Monday 21st November - the basic question to be "Is the Public Sector thinking in the wrong place?"
4.     Universities -The Universities are exploring joint working in the creating awareness of, the teaching of, and the research into, modern concepts of management.
5.     Dynamic aspects of web site - not there yet but we are working on it.
6.     Name - should we be thinking of a different name?
We now have a calendar facility on the web site - under "events." This allows us to highlight any events coming off in the coming months. For September, Esther has highlighted the Civil Society Forum meeting in London (6th September) and from Colin we have notification of Social Capital World Forum to be held in Austria (23-24 September) and we have our own two events in November at the Scottish Parliament.
We can now all put notices on the site of any forthcoming events. In the short term could you notify me (g.hall@dln.org.uk) and I will put the notices on the site. In the long term we will arrange for you to be able fill the calendar directly.
The Holyrood Stand
As you know we have been allocated the facility by the Scottish Parliament to have a stand at Holyrood on 22nd to 24th November. If you go to the events page for November and click on the event you will come to a brief description. There is also a photo of the empty stand that The Parliament provide for us.
We do have a committee that is thinking through what the stand should look like. And some others have started submitting their thoughts. Our basic themes, at present, are that there is inordinate waste within the public sector arising principally from the Command and Control culture. We estimate that it could be as much as 60% of the Scottish budget of £40 billion - i.e. £24 billion. So we want to pose the question - what could The Scottish Government do with all the money it could save. We also want to portray the many excellent projects that are emanating from the numerous forward thinkers in Scotland. We have to design the six boards round these themes. We have initial thoughts  and as soon as we have something that could be a basis for discussion we will circulate what we have.
We are working within the following constraints: a) To catch attention the posters have to be simple. We require to address a complex challenge through six simple pictures. b) We want to portray the many excellent and successful projects that are current - how do we give each project prominence without flooding the board? c) We can only have 2 people manning the stand at any one time. Our thoughts just now are that we devise a rota and then let the MSPs know the rota so that if they are interested in a particular area they could arrange to come to the stand when that person is in attendance. d) The MSPs will see the stand in passing. We will, therefore, need to prime the MSPs prior to the event
We also want to put significant thought into what happens after the event. What plans are we going to develop to make sure the issues continue to be at the forefront of Government thinking?
Any thoughts and contributions please do come back to us. Plus we will be asking for your help in identifying examples of waste and in asking you to have available write ups of your successful projects.
Committee Room at Holyrood - 21st November
Mike McCarron has arranged for us to have the use a committee room at The Scottish Parliament on the 21st November. We have still to work on the agenda etc. but the basic theme is going to be around the question "Is Public Sector thinking in the wrong place." The aim is to facilitate an open debate around this issue. We will not make progress by trying harder, trimming budgets, amalgamating services, etc. from our existing flawed thinking.
Our MSPs tend to work in their constituencies on Mondays so we are not expecting their participation. Our expectation is that we will involve the many forward thinkers in Scotland and those who have an interest in our future.
This event is obviously linked to the stand at The Scottish Parliament in the following three days.
As our Universities are at the pinnacle of our education system it would be a just great if they could play a major role in bring to the forefront modern concepts of management.
As you are aware Jim Mather is now a visiting Professor at Strathclyde University and he is assisting Umit Bititci with the development of a systems thinking course for the University. Dr Tony Miller and Professor Ken Russell of Robert Gordon University are in the process of arranging a meeting with staff from their business school, hopefully chaired by Jim Mather, to explore research and other possibilities. Dr Allan Taylor of Abertay University is keen to be involved. Prof. Phil Hanlon of Glasgow Univ. with his vision of "The Good, The True and The Beautiful" has also shown an interest. We also plan to involve other Universities.
To set the ball rolling we plan to have a joint meeting in October at Strathclyde University to explore cooperative working. To me there are a wide range of opportunities - from teaching, to research, to preparing virtual course, to creating short video clips to raise awareness, right through to hosting a series of Thought Leading presentations that can be beamed across Scotland. Bear in mind these are just my thoughts, it for the Universities working together to plan out how to support society in looking for a new way.
Is there a growing momentum for change - Referendum Opportunity?
I was speaking to Andrew Lyon(IFF) the other day and we did feel that there is a growing momentum for change. We felt that there is a significant disquiet with the status quo.
Mike McCarron also highlights the significance of the independence referendum coming in 2/3 years' time. We would anticipate a national debate as to where we are now and where we are going in the future. We could contribute significantly to these discussions.
Discussion - Linkedin, Twitter etc
It is still on the agenda of the UL's to establish a dynamic aspect of our site. We are still working on it and hopefully we will have it up and running in the not too distant future.
We have been having discussions through the original mailing list. I will load most of the contributions to our site in the coming week.
Wiki - It is also our intention to use the combined intelligence of the UL to create a comprehensive knowledge base in context of management; something akin to Wikipedia. We are not there yet but working on it.
Name - Unreasonable Learners
We have had feedback questioning our name "Unreasonable Learners." Does it create a barrier between us and the reasonable people we are hoping to engage? Once the dynamic aspects of the site are operational it will be one of the issues to be discussed.
Gordon Hall
26th August 2011
The Unreasonable Learners, 3 Drumclog Avenue, Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland G62 8NA, UNITED KINGDOM

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