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In 2020, Covid-19 turned our lives upside down. The way we live and the way we work may be forever changed as a result. If ever there was a ‘wicked problem’, Covid-19 is it.

Wicked problems are so-called not because they are ethically suspect, but rather because they’re intractable, deceptive and thorny. And any approach to them cannot help but create further problems as an inevitable consequence.

This time last year, I wrote about wicked problems and how they are structured differently from their alternative — tame problems.

You can read that article here, but in summary I explored the…

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This week, Oxford University published a neat little video called How to Make a Vaccine in Record Time. It was produced, presumably, to answer the question on the sceptics’ minds: how could a vaccine, which normally takes 15 years to produce, be safely ready in a matter of months?

I too was fascinated to find out.

The presumption in the question is that they started the vaccine development as soon as someone said: “hey, this Covid-19 coronavirus will be the new pandemic, get to work”!

Using an animated gantt chart, the video showed that, in contrast to this presumption, it…

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It’s been quite a week in political leadership around the world. Among the tumult and the drama, and as we look to a still unknown future, I wonder what lessons we can take from it.

In my strategic foresight work with executive leaders, when the future is uncertain and the path is unclear, the conversation often turns to legacy.

Leaders are keen to explore what they want to be known for and, beyond their tenure, what they want to leave behind. …

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It seems that wherever you look these days, you’ll find more and more stories about the pervasive belief in conspiracies. Whether it is QAnon, shape-shifting reptiles, or Covid being the result of 5G, we live in a world of conspiracy theories as people try to account for what’s really going on. And it’s getting worse.

We have moved beyond seeing the odd conspiracy theory pop up now and again. We now live in a bona-fide conspiracy culture, that that culture cannot help but permeate the boundaries of the organisation that you lead.

In a world in which conspiracy theories have…

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Young, high-tech billionaire CEOs… phenomenal and exponential growth…society-changing technologies…

The chances are these are the things that come to mind when you think of Silicon Valley. The region is synonymous with high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship — and rightly so. After all, almost one third of the entire Fortune 100 list of companies are headquartered there, and it accounts for more than one third of all venture capital invested in the US.

But what is it about the San Francisco peninsula that enabled this apparent metamorphosis from humble hippy culture to global high-tech ecosystem? And more importantly for you as a…

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Have you ever worked in an organisation where the people in the senior team were more competitive than collaborative? More importantly, are you working in one now?

I feel sure you have. It’s not uncommon to see each functional area or business unit operating independently of the others.

This isn’t a judgement about relationships or communication. Even when colleagues on the executive all get along, the team may not be working as a cohesive whole. …

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At the White House on March 23rd 2015, ferocious winds and sleet from the north-east battered the windows of the opulent first floor Red Room. But the people inside it that day were oblivious to it.

Five girl scouts, wearing super-hero capes, were showing their science invention to President Obama, taking part in the fifth White House Science Fair. The girls, aged only six years old, had created a battery-powered page-turner to help paralysed people read. A photograph capturing the moment shows the President looking mesmerised.

The event was the result of President Obama’s pledge, early in his administration, to…

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If the last fortnight has taught us anything, it’s that while our formal schooling may be important, there are lessons for us to learn at every stage of our career.

The big news story of this last couple of weeks has been the grading debacle in the UK’s schools, given that Covid has prevented students from sitting their Highers or A level exams as usual. Initial predictions by teachers were passed over in favour of an algorithm, which purported to apply absolute consistency when awarding grades to each student.

In many cases, the grades predicted by teachers were adjusted downwards…

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The way we work has changed radically since we were forced into lockdown in March 2020.

Out went commuting, working from a busy office, and lunch from Pret. In came Zoom calls, working with the dog at our feet, and lunch in the garden.

And now, as we progress through the phases of lifting lockdown, I’m hearing a clear message from multiple sources: people reluctant to return to the office. …

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Some leaders are really great in a crisis. You know the kind: they step up without hesitation, create a plan, provide clarity in uncertainty, and mobilise their troops into action.

I once worked with a Chief Executive just like this. By all positive measures he was truly exceptional in a crisis. The crisis besetting his organisation was complex and required deep and transformative change — and he pulled it off.

But what happened next really made me curious. Once the crisis was over, and the organisation was on a more even keel, he created another crisis. Then another, and another…

Dr Jacqueline Conway

Jacqueline works with CEOs and executives as they lead in an enviornment of disruptive change and relentless complexity.

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