One of the biggest errors that we can all so easily make is to believe that we have control over change. Perhaps more accurately, that we can plan change down to the nth detail and predict or even dictate where changes that we need to improve our lives will actually begin.
We can’t. But that doesn’t stop many trying or even fooling ourselves into walking into the trap of confirmation bias that appears to prove that we can.
This isn’t just a personal or private way of thinking, restricted to the choices and decisions of us as individuals alone.
In fact, this same kind of thinking works its way into the mindsets of departments, organisations, industries and even whole governments and the politicians that create them. All because the cultural conditioning or autopilot that we collectively and intrinsically possess is a phenomena that few take the time to think about or understand.
Those of you who read my blogs regularly will know that change that will benefit us all is something that I have been advocating for a long time.
The contradictions and complexity of my own life experience saw me start out within a one parent family in social housing, receiving free school meals and leaving school with no qualifications. I went on to become regional manager of a National Charity and then MD of my own company, contracting to a National Newspaper Group by the time I was 30 and it all couldn’t seem further apart.
But the insight it provided me with proved invaluable as a politician and councillor. It informs and forms the basic understanding of people and how our world – or specifically things in this Country work. This has enabled me to write and do the things that I do.
However, it also makes me feel sad and frustrated as I watch the avoidable mistakes and bad decisions being made by the people who lead us. The manifestation of decisions that affect us all being made by people who have been trusted to know better. Politicians who are supposed to represent the best interests of us all, but are interested only in what serves their interests best in all that we have placed our trust in them to do.
Whilst it has become fashionable for politicians to big themselves up by virtue signalling and telling everyone that they are there, speaking truth to power, few of them actually understand what the real truth actually is.
The real truth has become too easily interchangeable with politicians own personal views and ideas, or what they might innocently mistake to be ‘the truth’. They then find themselves questioning how events and circumstances directly influenced by the will of others can go so wrong for them, when they simply know that they are right.
Brexit, the history of its being and everything about it even now, is a text book example of how this misguided process works for those who lead us and have responsibility to act on our behalf.
The process has demonstrated how an unflinching belief in being right and doing things the way they have always been done can be so damaging in so many ways. Simply because the common flaw in the thinking and everything it touches is itself out of touch with the real views and feelings of the majority. It is therefore democratically, if not fundamentally wrong.
The problems that created Brexit are now institutional. They have been building over many years.
Through scandals such as Rotherham, Grenfell and Brexit itself, the causes of the problems in this country should well and truly be understood and have been writ large for the people who are in charge. But they haven’t for all of them and the inescapable truth is that many of them still possess an effect-focused view.
Many of those who hold positions of power in this Country, both politicians and executives alike, are still blissfully unaware that what they already believe or have been conditioned to see as being right does not serve the interests of the Country or the wider Public as the activities of any public servant genuinely should.
With Brexit offering the doorway to change that the UK needs , but still very much misunderstood for the opportunity that it genuinely is, the result of the General Election in December brings a level of firmness and surety to the ground upon which Boris Johnson’s Government can now step forward, in a way that simply wasn’t available before.
But with British Politics remaining very much under a cloud from which the Electorate knows it must produce a tangible level of change within the term of this Parliament, there must realisation within the corridors of power that the huge numbers of votes that have been lent to the Conservatives are just a device that the Public has given to Boris to facilitate stepping beyond the words of the untrusted political class itself.
This Johnson-led Government must now move beyond anachronistic thinking and the politics of old to a place where we can all openly see that things really have been done, as promised and as they really should be.
The question for us all is, when it’s not just the political system that is broken, but the way that public services and the public sector works that is broken too, where exactly is it that the change that we all need so badly going to actually begin?
I must be honest and say that Boris’ pivotal use of the existing Withdrawal Agreement and much talk of the resurrection of One Nation Conservatism before the Election, had began to drain away what had for me been a form of hope.
But with a long held belief that a lot of what Boris would achieve as PM would be as much about the quality of the Team that he put into place around him, I now believe that he may have already facilitated the starting point or genesis of genuinely beneficial and far-reaching change.
The Prime Ministers Chief Advisor Dominic Cummings has caused a stir in Westminster by sidestepping protocol and effectively going direct to the marketplace to attract ‘weirdo’s and misfits’ to help him in No10.
Put differently, Cummings has reached out to people who can offer a real view of the world both inside and outside of Westminster who have the wherewithal, skills and experience to collectively come together and work on behalf of No10 to get real change done.
Naturally, the Establishment doesn’t like what Cummings has done.
Through his actions he has effectively bypassed a system that has successfully developed to prevent change and rocking of the boat.
Cummings has genuinely spoken truth to power in the way that much of the political and executive bubble from the top to the bottom of Government and the Public Sector simply will not – just because the very change that we need is the very change that they do not want.
Doing the right things at the right time, or rather doing what’s right precisely at that very moment in time when the decision is made is how real and meaningful change begins.
Meaningful change doesn’t start by creating giant plans or strategies that themselves take many months and the consent of many different Civil Servants or Mandarins to get agreed and signed off.
Thats the way things have always been done.
It’s the way, that the work on change and the reasons it was needed in the first place will have already changed by the time that work begins.
It’s the place where change inevitably steps off in the wrong direction.
It’s the beginning of a process where change that should have benefitted us all never happens because the reason for change has changed before the change itself begins.
Change is underway for us all perpetually and happening constantly all the time. It is a live and dynamic process like a train that never stops moving.
Jumping on to or into that train of change is the way that the change beyond day-to-day or rather changing things simply to stand still actually begins.
But what the wheels of Government are doing, have always done and what they want to do now is make change necessary only to keep everything running just the same for them as it always has.
That form of change is not the meaningful change that we and the Country need. It’s certainly not what Brexit, the symptom, that these same people created, was and still is really all about.
The Civil Service attracts great people who are more than qualified to do their jobs.
But the change we need across the Public Sector isn’t about qualifications alone. It can only start if the Public Sector and therefore the people who lead it start to change the way that they think and therefore how they approach what they actually do.
By injecting new thinking into government and the civil service, the opportunity will exist to demonstrate that there is a different way of doing things in the Public Sector that works better for everyone. It has the potential to show that just maintaining the status quo or doing things the way that they have always been done will only lead to the same results. It has the power to deliver the change that we need in Government and Politics – that in turn can deliver something better for us all – beginning, as it should, right at the top of Government in No10.
Dominic Cummings might not have all the answers. But by reaching out to people beyond the bubble he has shown that he has recognised this – even if the way he has done so might not be to the establishments liking or taste.
It is they, the establishment, the people with responsibility right now who will do all that they can to stop him and the people who join him in No10 who really must now be stopped. That is if all of us are to experience the change that we need and genuinely want.