What if we developed organisational ecologists in the UK Civil Service? — Part One

Credit: Image of an ‘Introvert’s Garden’ by Caroline Magerl

Connecting between present actions and future outcomes

Gif of Captain Jim Kirk, from the Starship Enterprise, charting a course to other planets in the galaxy.
“Illustrated map of existing and emerging design disciplines. The height of the trees indicates the age of the discourse. The breadth of the tree canopy indicates influence. The roots indicate ideology, and connections between emerging domains.” Credit: Kirsten Moegerlein’s PhD ‘Designing in Transition: Towards Intimacy in Ecological Uncertainty

History casts a long shadow

  • history and narratives — the study of people, actions, decisions, interactions and behaviours;
  • path dependence — the notion that present actions taken at an earlier point in time can set in motion developments that can affect future outcomes, i.e. what has occurred in the past persists, even if not visible on the surface; and,
  • initial conditions — which are specific contextual conditions (i.e. organisational structure) at the time of founding imprint upon organisational processes at later stages and, eventually, amount to a replicated pattern.
Gif of Officer PC Yasmin Khan (played by Mandip Gill) of Hallamshire Police, who was a companion of the Thirteenth Doctor on the TV series ‘Doctor Who’ saying, “We’ve got to save the future.”

Framing our thinking in terms of narratives

Tweet by Luke Craven: “The stories we tell ourselves about the world are always a mashup of different ways of making sense of it: scientific, intuitive, linear, mystic, spiritual, embodies. This is never pretty.” Sam Rye and Luke Craven’s recent blogs on language, metaphors, and meaning are particularly relevant, see here and here.
Gif of Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) from the film ‘Hidden Figures’ standing in front of a chalkboard calculating a mathematical formula. She is a room full of white, senior men seated at a oval wooden table.

Building capacity for embracing uncertainty, ambiguity, and emergence

  • a set of linear processes to be optimised for speed and efficiency; or,
  • an ecology (a circular network of interdependent competing and cooperating organisms) from which the capacity for resilience may emerge when the conditions are right.
Judge Claudia Friend (played by Bebe Neuwirth) from the TV series ‘The Good Fight’ dressed in judge’s robes. She is seated at the judge’s table in a courtroom and speaking to the lawyers, “Share your thinking.”

Making choices in a radically uncertain world



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Nour Sidawi

Nour Sidawi


Mastering the art of disruption in procurement, leadership, and change @MoJGoVUK. Reimagining the future of multifarious possibilities with @OneTeamGov 🌍