Above: recent re-issue of the 1973 bestseller Small is Beautiful by Diana, wife of the original author, EF Schumacher
We all live under privileged eyes I think: it’s clear when you look at how the ideas and ideals of what is a productive human, why being an adult and even living as an older person are so contested. Is it because the impact of the big companies, like Carillion have pushed in on our life possibilities more than we realised?
The problem is until we review the social contract in the UK, we’re all just witnesses, whistleblowers or bystanders, conscious that we’re stuck, aware we’re treading on each others rights to live peacefully because we’ve had little control over the development of companies where over time there is little or no real purpose or accountability.
It’s meant that social problems have become ingrained because we’re all adversaries. Even when we’re ‘helping’ we’re also interfering and judging. Seeing everything on a giant scale has made us all feel like ants with little power to make a difference.
Above: Google High Line (railway line rejuvenation) and wonderful pedestrianised Copenhagen
Until Carillion was brought into special measures and its liquidation overseen by the only accounting giant without a perceived conflict of interest, PWC, we thought that increasing professionalisation and complex compliance structures were the only way we could have control, growth and profitability in supply chains across disciplines and borders.
Compliance across increasingly complex supply chains though meant that everyone was locked in and locked down and, as a worker or a manager, couldn’t act on opportunities to scale things, grow things.
Only people can make things happen. She brought together thinkers, doers, industrialists, technologists and created podcasts, a regular event, Names Not Numbers to catalyse conversation and communication across boundaries and disciplines. I learnt to think through the podcasts they produced.
We feel overwhelmed until we realise that we must look at work and how we work. Thomson’s solicitors have recently published their report on how we work just now and how we can improve it.
I think what they’ve grasped is how important it is to hear something new, to actively hear and engage with people: to expect to feel progress at work, in life and at home.
Look again at the world around you, at work, in your own office, that really adjusts notions we’ve lived with in the post Thatcher era of Capita, Carillion,
Serco, G4S, ATOS: all entities that probably need a lot of TLC to restore them.
The evolution of these companies since the second world war has let us think that progress means a monoculture. It doesn’t.
I think there are a lot of good people who see Brexit as the opportunity they want to do better, live better. we can have change if we want it. Let’s think of how we can live more permanently…as if people really matter.
Yesterday I attended a lecture by famous designer Anthony Burrill. He is my age roughly and attended the Royal College of Art. He explained how rebellious he had been as a student and how his work evolved through rave culture and the kind of Adbuster rebellion of his post graduation work that led to his renowned advertising work for the worst hostel in the world, the Hans Brinker Hostel in Amsterdam.
Anthony Burrill’s print: £60 printed on 100% recycled paper by Adams of Rye famous letterpress printer that the designer discovered when he escaped from corporate design
We realise now that accountability, fairness and democracy within society make a massive difference to the kind of venture, licensing and technocratic cradle to cradle social engineering that the big companies believed was their gift. They failed us all in the end.
We need to realise that small needs the news as if people matter. We need to build new businesses, richer relationships beyond the transactional.