Half a Hexagon
 the shape of ideas in a complex world
      7th February 2021

Hello, and a new-look first newsletter of the year. If you've just signed up, welcome and thank you.  For those spotting change, it's more evolution than revolution,  but does reflect a shift in emphasis on what I plan to focus on bringing you ideas-wise in 2021.

This year will be a mix of my stuff  but  also those of people I think are worth noting and listening to. Curation is key to cutting through complexity and I'm hoping to make it simple for you to get a handle on some of what is floating and swirling around.

Half a Hexagon refers of course to my obsession with the number six and the six-sided hexagon and the value in playing with shape, sides, pattern in thinking and planning.

6 is a perfect planning number, and its mathematical perfection lies in its integers (also known as plain old 1, 2 & 3 ) being able to divide into it and so half a hexagon is just that: think of it as the action points, the 1, 2 or 3 priorities.

Hopefully each time you read this you'll take away one idea which is interesting, a couple of different perspectives (the echo chamber is *so* boring, don't you think?) and a half-a-hexagon of things to look at or click to find out more about.....

Maybe I just like shape and numbers but I notice them more and more. The latest to catch my eye is What 3 Words, which is mapping the entire world in a geolocation app by 3 metres square and whose strapline is "the simplest way to talk about location".

Simplicity - it remains everywhere doesn't it. If you know where to look. And I'm seeking it out wherever I can as its so precious.


Location is very much on our minds as we all feel so stuck but the question I'll be looking at in my paper The Nowhere Office which is out later this month with Demos is where the 'where' will be for the white collar, knowledge worker, back at work either post pandemic or in the long middle of it lasting into 2022.

I have managed to get conversations with really interesting figures from psychotherapist and social commentator Susie Orbach to veteran FT economics commentator Martin Wolf as well as some Gen Z workers who have never actually met their colleagues off Zoom and some cutting edge digital entrepreneurs fighting the good fight to revolutionise the workplace - one digital cloud at a time.

Here's a link to a discussion we had in December.
If you would like a digital copy of the report let me know.,

Location was the topic of that lovely Netflix adaption of John Preston's fine 2007 novel The Dig,  about the Sutton Hoo archeology hoard starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan. There was something infinitely romantic about the idea of shapes in a Suffolk landscape holding history and being revealed with all of the trial, error, luck and of course love that goes in any good human story.


There's another way of looking at place and that is its absence. Not just in the sense of where we locate ourselves on a daily basis, but where we are in our heads. Do we give ourselves space to actually think? Not often. Not often enough. 

I recently re-read my old friend Derek Draper's wonderful 2018 book Create Space, thinking of him as he continues to lie in hospital, felled by Covid-19 for perhaps the forseeable future.

Derek talks about the emotional space we inhabit, and how we need to create space within ourselves to make sense of what we are feeling. Anyone who has lain on a shrink's couch can vouch for that but this time of Covid has brought an introspection which I think is particularly poignant (in the case of Derek especially) but more widely.

Who are we now we are shorn of our everyday busyness? That is going to be an interesting question as we 'get back' in months to come.

Talking of numbers, it turns out, having read David Baddiel's new book, that Jews don't count when it comes to racism. I drank it in alongside rather a strong homemade Martini as it is a bracing read and made me realise that as a non-observant Atheist Jewish girl from North London I have been wilfully blind about a number of things. I really recommend you read it alongside Sathnam Sanghera's new book Empireland and then your mind will really have been expanded on the whole question of identity in a modern world. Both are exceedingly good books.

The Show on the Road

The Show Must Go On, even in the sluggish months before the days get long and the air becomes safe again. Anyway, I've been busy, not just in my fairly regular slot on Sky News but also speaking variously since the start of the year to audiences at The British Academy, The BBC and The Cabinet Office, all on the topic of Social Health and keeping it simple in a complex world.
If you'd like, I do have a Simplicity Class - Click HERE

I did an In Conversation with David Bodanis about his wonderful - and it is wonderful - new book The Art of Fairness a couple of weeks ago with Matthew d'Ancona of Tortoise media and we concluded that David himself is proof positive of his theory that you don't have to be cut-throat to get on. Nice can win!

And Finally......

When in doubt, reach for Winnie-the-Pooh. I don't know who put this little meme out to keep our spirits up but they kept mine up and I hope they keep yours up to.

Until the next half-month (yes, a newsletter renamed Half a Hexagon has to be half as much again, don't you think?), have a good and safe fortnight.

P.S. it would be remiss of me not to direct you to a sale of Simplicity Stationery to keep you organised and calm....
Click here to have a look.
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