Half a Hexagon
shaping simple ideas in a complex world
Monday 28 June 2021

How clearly do any of us see? By the time our bias and our beliefs have been factored in? When we see a politician's wife, hounded by the media, are the 'snappers' seeing clearly, or giving us the picture we crave to see? What I see and what I want to see and what someone sees is all getting rather camera obscura.

The Eyes Have It

I have my own situation regarding clarity of vision, as I'm spending rather a lot of time in the excellent care of Moorfield's Eye Hospital due to an unusual eye condition which is making me see a number of things through a different lens. 

The first is management. My goodness me, hospitals like Moorfield are well run and in fact the NHS seems to have a boost since Covid-19 with extremely well-run and focused care for fairly serious conditions: I cannot move for calls, appointments, joined-up thinking, excellent care.

The second is perspective. Watching through a new window is interesting, instructive. For instance, everyone at Moorfields seems to have worked there a long time. "since my hair was black" said Richard, the cheerful gray-haired scanner. I realise that teams when they work are pretty priceless.

And the third is Workaround. We all need workarounds. It's amazing how fast you can adapt when you have to. How you can fit more in than you thought, reapply your focus, get to a new 'place' which is of course what all of us working are having to do: step by step, flexible moment by lateral flow test.

Summer Reading

Many of you were moved by the John Keats' When I have Fears I posted in the last newsletter. Possibly in anticipation of the 4th July next week my choices are all American this week.

The first is Richard Power's Overstory. If I say it's a story about trees it is to undersell vastly the sheer epic power of narrative storytelling. Bill Gates put it in his summer reading and with good reason. It is about time and the passing of "countless nows". It is about the environment and politics and above all, people. And trees. Mulberrys, Chestnuts. I won't say more but it's really, really extraordinary.

The second is Berkeley academic Caitlin Rosenthal's forensic examination of the management records of slavery, concluding over and above its raw depiction of depraved morality and exploitation that the business practices dominated by metrics, measurement and cultures in which "soul value and market value" are often very different things indeed are not dead and buried today. I'm not equating modern work exactly with actual indenture but  I'm finding it riveting and shocking. The author's new project? A look at HR management history. Exactly.

The perfect accompaniment to this is the American doyenne of 'leadership and followership' Barbara Kellerman who I have interviewed for my forthcoming book (deadline is upon me is all I will say: this newsletter is light relief compared to the tap-tap-tap) and who is quite exceptionally clear in her thinking that we can't lay all the failures of the system on the pandemic: They were there *way* before. Read any of her stuff and it's like a cool, clear drink of water.

Bye-Bye, Baby

If you made it this far here's me in Berlin, one June in another era, pre-pandemic, 2019, carefree, having jumped on a plane without thought of mask or misery or medical matters. We will get back to this time of spontaneity but not until the whole world is vaccinated and this lousy Covid war is over.

Stay safe, stay happy (enough), be kind to others.
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