Friday, June 30, 2017

Corporate Responsibility at OPM Group: our Commitment to Communities

At OPM Group, our Corporate Responsibility work engages with 4 main areas:

We believe that for corporate responsibility work to benefit communities, it needs to be ongoing, community-driven, and transparent.

As a Living Wage Employer whose social purpose is to support and champion the delivery of social impact and help people have a say in the decisions that affect them, corporate responsibility is the fabric of our business model and activities.

Current Connections and Activities

In January 2017, we joined the Heart of the City network, a London business led-charity, to engage with other socially committed organisations in London and continue to grow our firm commitment to corporate responsibility. As part of our programme we became a Living Wage employer in April. Our activities have included research for the Migration Museum Project; community walks to identify local needs which we can contribute to and surveys to assess how we can improve our environmental sustainability.

Read more about our Corporate Responsibility work

Want to know more about our corporate responsibility process? Or, discover our top tips for engaging your colleagues on corporate responsibility activities? Read our recent blog posts.

Responsible Business Week: alternative approaches to community impact

Win the champion: how we found our Green Team on the first call out


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

OPM Group is part of an exciting three year project to develop connected driverless vehicles in the UK for an ageing society

FLOURISH is a three year government funded project which aims to advance the successful implementation of connected driverless vehicles in the UK. The project is worth 5.5 million and is being delivered by a multi-sector consortium.
It is anticipated that older adults with ageing-related impairments and people with mobility needs will be particular beneficiaries of such technology, supporting them to lead more active and independent lives. FLOURISH has a deliberate focus on meeting the needs of these target groups and hopes to accelerate their ability to become early adopters of connected driverless vehicles.
OPM Group’s role on FLOURISH is to conduct research and engagement with stakeholders and members of the public from the identified target groups to understand the pragmatic challenges and opportunities for the use of connected driverless vehicles. The findings from our research and engagement are informing the vehicle trialling and development of the technology and services that are being taken forward by FLOURISH partners.
For more information visit:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Systems Leadership in Complex Cities

How OPM recently worked with Vietnamese civil servants to explore the role of systems leadership in complex city challenges.

With a population centre of more than 10 million people, London is the UK’s one and only megacity. Whilst the city plays a dominant global role, there is no doubting that its sheer volume of people, communities and businesses creates unique social, economic and environmental challenges.

Much of OPM’s change and transformation work seeks to address complex and uncertain situations like these through systems leadership thinking.

This sort of leadership has been defined as “the collaborative leadership of a network of people in different places and at different levels of the system creating a shared endeavour and cooperating to make a significant change.”

Systems leadership will therefore be crucial in meeting the challenges of megacities, and so we were delighted to host a delegation of planning and investment civil servants from Vietnam earlier this month to explore the role of systems leadership in the context of complex city challenges.

The event, organised in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s business school, explored systems leadership through a case study on 9 Elms. 9 Elms is a key regeneration initiative in the centre of London that will create among other things, 18,000 new homes; 25,000 new jobs; 2 new tube stations and a new linear park.

Whilst the regeneration efforts will contribute to local economic growth, there are already concerns around a lack of affordable housing, the long term viability of local independent businesses and the balance between commercial and civic space.

After learning more about systems leadership, the delegates were tasked with identifying the potential problems that may arise as the project progresses and the systems leadership skills and behaviours that would be required to overcome these problems.

The feedback from each group was remarkably similar. The project’s success will require the cultivating of positive and honest relationships between partners across the public and private sector, while the tension between profitability and creating a pleasant living environment will have to be managed sensitively throughout the process. Those involved in leading the regeneration efforts will also need to be brave enough to confront difficult conversations when interests conflict or risk stalling the progress of the project.

OPM would like to thank Dr Stefan Cantore from University of Southampton’s Business School for jointly facilitating the event and the NCVO for providing the venue for the day.

For more information on OPM’s experiences around systems leadership, you can download our recent paper, “Systems Leadership: A view from the bridge.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Patients in control: ‘assume it’s possible’

Imagine walking into a GP surgery. For most of us, the first thing we normally face is a reception desk with overworked staff fielding phone calls in front of long queues of waiting patients.

What would happen if you took the reception desk away? Can you picture the waiting room as a place to talk to healthcare advisers, to find out about different wellbeing programmes without needing to necessarily even see a GP? The experience might feel something like going into an Apple Store and being greeted with a friendly smile and an iPad to search for options.

This is one of the latest ideas from the Bromley-by-Bow centre – reimagining the waiting room as a space to actively engage with patients, rather than a space where people are passively processed.

Operating in one of the most deprived areas of Tower Hamlets, BBBC is a pioneering community organisation – a vibrant hub with a café, arts workshops, offices, a nursery, garden, GP surgery and officers from the local housing association. The programmes that they run include helping people with long term conditions to take control of their lives, learn new skills, supporting people to find work and establishing social enterprises. The GP surgery (along with five others in the local area) refers patients to BBBC programmes through social prescribing.



Bromley-by-Bow Centre


The philosophy underpinning this approach is not necessarily new or unique – The Marmot Review into health inequalities emphasised a social understanding of health, and more recently Dr Atul Gawande dedicated one of his Reith lectures to the importance of medicine shifting from a focus on health to wellbeing. There is also evidence from social prescribing pilots elsewhere in the UK of the success of the approach. But the BBBC has put a wellbeing approach into practice and made it sustainable – based on an unswerving belief in the power of stronger, and more networked communities, and people’s capacity to achieve their goals and raise their aspirations.

OPM worked with the Bromley-by-Bow Centre (BBBC) to create a commissioning simulation as part of the South East CSU Person-Centred Care project. This aimed to explore the tools and knowledge that CCGs might need to confidently commission programmes and services that put patients in control.  Participants had to imagine they were at a Commissioning Challenge event for a fictional CCG – although not dissimilar to what some CCGs are already doing. At our event, commissioners, patients, local authority representatives, clinicians and voluntary sector providers had come together, to work up an idea on how to reduce Type 2 diabetes and heart disease through a living well programme.

Simulations always risk being slightly contrived, but the aim was to go beyond commissioners’ usual environments, draw inspiration from the setting and think about how to join the dots between different organisations in local areas – all of whom could have something to contribute to a wellbeing approach that puts patients in greater control of their health.

What did we learn?

Creating the space for CCG commissioners to come together with local organisations and patients is essential to understand what each has to offer. Patients in control programmes will rarely sit in isolation – they are part of a menu of options, and commissioners need to think across the local system.

We found many examples and case studies of programmes that could be described as putting patients in control. But commissioning these are not yet the norm.

Participants talked about the importance of CCGs being less risk averse – finding ways to challenge entrenched cultures, and influence others internally and externally. This is not an easy task in a time of tight budgets and long lists of priorities.

Within this context, being able to demonstrate impact and outcomes is vital – we have blogged about measuring impact in the context of commissioning earlier on in this blog series on person centred care.

Despite these challenges, overall, we found that there is real desire amongst CCGs to use the commissioning process to ensure that there are person centred approaches in place. As one participant in the simulation said: ‘The aim should be for a Bromley-By-Bow Centre in every local area…’

In the words of the Centre itself: ‘assume it’s possible’.


This is the third in a series of blogs to be published following the development of a set of online tools and resources by OPM in support of the person-centred care agenda for South East Commissioning Support Unit. The first is entitled: Person-centred care: putting patients in control and the second: Person-centred care: measuring impact.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A guide to economic assessment in nursing: new pamphlet published

RCN publishing have brought together five articles, which were originally published in Nursing Management, to form one standalone guide to economic assessment in nursing. The articles were written by OPM director Dr Chih Hoong Sin and RCN’s research and innovation manager, Dr Ann McMahon and cover:

Together they offer readers a step by step guide to critically examine economic assessments in the context of nurse-led service innovation, and include exercises to help readers put their new knowledge into practice. However, despite the fact these articles were written with a nursing readership in mind, they are designed to be accessible to all novices in economic assessment, and the principles, tools and procedures are also relevant those outside the nursing field.

For more information, or for a hard copy of the pamphlet, please contact Lawrence Finkle OPM’s Communications Officer on

Monday, January 5, 2015

25th anniversary guest blog series: Public and private sectors must learn from each other post General Election

As we approach the General Election and (closer to home) my retirement, I am regularly being asked what the future may hold for public services.

Most obviously, whatever is the political make-up of the new Government, the need to reduce the deficit will remain.  In round numbers, this has to be brought down by £100 billion to achieve a balanced budget.  So further reductions in some areas of public expenditure look inevitable.

Also inevitable will be a further drive for efficiencies across both central and local government.  This will be a challenge, but meeting challenges is an opportunity for innovation.  Doing things better – offering better customer and client service at lower cost – is something which both public servants and the private sector can do.

We have seen some inspiring examples of innovation through our work with the Cabinet Office‘s Commissioning Academy.  As local public sector organisations work in partnership with each other, the private and the voluntary sectors they are rethinking the design and delivery of services.  A recent example in the North East is an IT provider being paid on their contribution to the desired outcome for the region: that of local economic growth.  This requires the IT provider to work closely and creatively with local communities.

Whichever political party or parties form the next Government, I hope they encourage learning and respect between the public and private sectors.  Learning between the sectors is vital to the future success of both.  It provides new ideas, fresh perspectives and opportunities to address the challenges of doing better with less.  In tough times, training budgets are often cut first.  They should be cut last. I find it inspiring to learn about examples of good practice wherever they are to be found and I suspect plenty of other people do too.

Mark Gibson is Chief Executive of the Whitehall & Industry Group


About the series

OPM is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and as a public interest organisation, we’ve always contributed to the debate about the future of public services.

With this and the next general election in mind, we’ve asked a number of senior thinkers to give their views on the challenges and opportunities facing public services and society in the near future.

This is one of a series of guest blogs, which we’ll be adding to in the coming weeks and months. To read previous posts in the series, go to our news and comment page.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

25th anniversary guest blog series: Glasnost and Realism

Since its establishment in 1989 OPM has made an invaluable contribution to stakeholder engagement, organisational development, leadership development and coaching across the UK’s public services. OPM’s 25th anniversary is a great excuse to reflect on what we have learned about public services in the UK, whether delivered in house or on an outsourced basis, since 1989. It is also a chance to pause to think about the challenges and opportunities facing those services over the next five years or so.

Since 1989 glasnost has well and truly broken out in debates about the provision of public services with most of the old, tired taboos having gone. Very few now cling on to the delusion that our public services are universally exceptional and the envy of the world. That view, still prominent in the late 1980s, perpetuated the pernicious idea that somehow the business models behind our public services should be treated like museum artefacts, there to be preserved, revered. Nothing closes minds to radically positive reform of service design and delivery more powerfully than a paradigm of reverence.

Thankfully it is now acceptable for our public service purchasing, delivery and the achievement of outcomes to be described more accurately. They are a deeply worrying mixture of frequent brilliance and regular ineptitude. Citizens recognise that many of our public service organisations remain a very long way from the modern, hugely productive, highly communicative, customer centric, financially innovative organisations they should be. Consequently, debates about the need for continuous improvement are now more enlightened. There is an acceptance that our public services need to be constantly agile with a relentless appetite for positive change. 25 years on from the creation of OPM the paradigm of honest realism is the dominant one.

During this shift of paradigms so much has been learned about how best to nurture the passion, dedication and enthusiasm of public service workforces. The challenge and opportunity over the next five years or so is to embrace the three most important pieces of this learning.

Firstly we all know better than ever now that it is literally pointless restructuring public service purchasing and delivery if there is not a simultaneous major injection of new talent and the removal of poor performers. Even a cursory look at the recycling of former Primary Care Trust staff into Clinical Commissioning Groups and so on in the health economy, for example, shines a light on the perils of creating new bodies mainly staffed by those who were in the predecessor organisations. We have learned over and over again in these 25 years the futility of expecting new and restructured public services that are dominated by the staff of their predecessors to implement the type of strategic, commercial and financial grip that has become the norm in many other parts of the economy.

Secondly we have all learned that cash is an inadequate and often inaccurate indicator of resource requirements for public services. Very few of our public service purchasers or deliverers can accurately measure, manage and/or forecast unit costs and productivity across large parts of their businesses. So it is not surprising that many of them cling to the notion that more money is a certain route to improvement and their ability to cope with demand and increased expectations. Thankfully the last 25 years have provided some wonderfully helpful examples of public services improving in terms of delivery and outcomes whilst the amounts of cash funding for those services has reduced. We have also seen many services given massive real terms increases in cash but simultaneously reduce their performance. As a result it is slowly becoming socially unacceptable for public service purchasers and providers to bemoan their cash constraints whilst presiding over organisations with very low levels of productivity, poor skills, little commercial acumen, weak management and a lack of innovation. But the challenge of avoiding a reversion to the tired old debates that focus solely on funding remains real.

Thirdly, despite the protestations of some, ownership matters. Since 1989 we have seen a healthy diversification of models for designing and delivering public services. Employee ownership has been and remains at the heart of this agenda. Employee owned organisations, many of which have spun out of the public sector, now deliver public services worth £2bn each year in the UK. Employee owned businesses always deliver better service quality, better service outcomes and better value for money for public sector purchasers who award service delivery contracts. Employee ownership in public service delivery is, therefore, very much part of the UK’s new economy. The challenge now is to rapidly expand employee ownership into new service domains including the publically funded acute health care sector.

So, 25 years on from the arrival of OPM debates about public services have moved on significantly. A number of key lessons have been learned over that time. If our attitudes and behaviours embrace the most important aspects of this learning, the future of UK public services will be bright. If we do not, we will look back in anger at missed opportunities.

Iain Hasdell is Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association


About the series

OPM is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and as a public interest organisation, we’ve always contributed to the debate about the future of public services.

With this and the next general election in mind, we’ve asked a number of senior thinkers to give their views on the challenges and opportunities facing public services and society in the near future.

This is one of a series of guest blogs, which we’ll be adding to in the coming weeks and months. To read previous posts in the series, go to our news and comment page.

Monday, October 6, 2014

25th anniversary guest blog series: Challenges for services to the public over the coming five years

OPM’s silver anniversary gives us a chance to reflect.  Where were we – and public services – in 1989? What’s happened in the 25 years since OPM was established which might give pointers for the next five?

As a teacher I was waiting, full of doubt and trepidation, to implement the National Curriculum.  Science alone had 17 Attainment Targets, maths had about seven, English had five, and others had more.  Somebody somewhere was dreaming up SATs for seven year olds about whether objects would float or sink. We were arguing about public services not being properly funded.  Schools were being sounded out about delegated finances for most things and some were piloting the Local Management of Schools. If there were computers in them they were rare, had to be booked out from the cupboard they lived in, and in my then-LEA were BBC Masters because everybody knew you couldn’t trust PCs.  People in the art department talked enthusiastically about Apples and it was clear they were terrific, but they didn’t interface with any other systems so if you got one, it really only talked to itself.  Nobody had a mobile phone, very few had home computing and if they did it was quite an art to learn how to use it.  We were not connected to the then-infant internet.

And nationally? We were ten years into an 18-year Conservative government. Nothing beyond what had always been country-specific had been devolved to any of the UK’s three Celtic nations. Nothing in public services had been denationalised to speak of. Most transport, all of state education, health services, water treatment and disposal, energy production and sale, were run either by national or local state authorities. The move towards denationalisation was starting, but it was very new.  Local government was powerful. Every possible model ran:  two tier counties, metropolitan unitary and royal boroughs, cities and parishes were all alive whether well or ill, and running services for the public. There was, we now know, the same pattern as there is today of things in them being honest or dishonest, well governed or chaotic. Where it was the unit of management, the public sector had the monopoly. What it commissioned, mostly it also provided, and nobody much suggested otherwise, though there were noises off and anomalies were beginning to challenge established paradigms. ‘Surely there are more varied, more flexible ways of delivering from the public purse’, said the anomaly proposers. ‘Of course there are, go away’, said the guardians of the paradigm.

On the national scene there were things we would find familiar now, and some that have changed. Our forces were heavily deployed in Northern Ireland’s turbulence and troubles and we lived with the shock, sadness and concern about what that sometimes brought to the mainland. But the Middle East was largely the Middle East’s ongoing problem and we weren’t there with boots on the ground, though we were in other parts of the world and in peace keeping operations. We were seven years on from the Falklands War. We were four years on from the end of the Miners’ strike, but most mines were still open.  School leavers could go, at 16, into a wide range of industrial and commercial as well as service sector jobs, with or without qualifications. We still built our own trains.  Steel was still made in bulk in places across the UK. Many communities in England were not multi-ethnic, multi-faith or multi-lingual. Where they were, many were long-term and settled mixed communities, with comparatively rare arrivals of new groups bringing new strengths and new needs with them.

Since then? The paradigms have shifted. Yes, public services often feel much as they did to the recipient. Trains run or they don’t. You get a seat on one at an immense cost per ticket, or you don’t. The lights stay on or go out. You wait for medical treatment you may or may not get, however much more sophisticated your treatment is now. You apply, often through convoluted routes, to go to a school; for benefits; to become a foster carer or adoptive parent; for adaptations to your home or other concessions in accordance with your age, physical or intellectual disabilities; for free school meals; for a place at university. Your life is intervened in by social services, the police or other agencies in accordance with an assessment of your needs, your behaviours or both, and services succeed or fail in helping you live a full life.

We all expect services to keep vulnerable children and adults safe and are as scandalised now as we were then if they fail. You pay your council to empty your bins, commission or even run varied local services, grit your roads. We pay PLCs to deliver clean water and reliable and safe sewage systems, power, gas, railways and road maintenance. They inspect our schools for Ofsted, clean our public buildings, care for those who cannot care for themselves. They are often run by those who ran the predecessor public bodies. Whether what they do is cheaper, more efficient, better quality, more assured than the monoliths they replaced continues to be debated.

The simplistic notions EITHER that only the public sector can provide honourably in the public interest, or that ANYBODY BUT the public sector should be allowed, encouraged, contracted or funded, deserve our copious and equal scorn. Given that often the same people are doing the work concerned, I hope we have grown beyond such empty debates, prepared instead to challenge what is both commissioned and provided on the bases of quality, accountability, and how well the citizen –  of any and all ages or social standings – actually fares.

What will the next five years bring?  Our reliance on and the further development of a mixed market in public services, the development of innovations that will eventually do good but may originate in discomfort and disruption, all based on public service values and people determined to do public good, is the future, just  as it is the present. The challenge for a new government, of any stripe, will be that the public is ever more awake: connected, interconnected, prepared to challenge authority on the basis of what those connections say should be happening.

More people are well travelled and educated to a higher level, the economy is massively more diverse and multi-layered, and more people know the meaning of and how to exercise robust and critical choice.  We know that a new government that believes a magic pot of gold lies buried at the end of some rainbow, to be used to create Rolls Royce models of service, will be wrong. Inventiveness and courage will be required, as they were 25 years ago at the start of the technological and post-industrial revolutions the 1990s accelerated and the 2000s have continued. A rush to do yet another policy-rather-than evidence based reorganisation – in health, policing, or any other commissioning or provision – might fulfil a political wish for change, but would not necessarily do much more than cause anxiety, spending money the system does not have, and seeing no improvement for service users.

Politics, by its nature, has a short memory. Those preparing to govern in May would do well to recognise that they may only govern for five years, but they are part of a stream of history, not new minted and context free. This country’s public services are the envy of many in the world, for all their difficulties in making ends meet. They are also fought over ideologically and politically, often expensive, and sometimes their own worst and most cumbersome enemies. An aware, connected population needs to be involved in shaping them, having ceased to be passive and humbly grateful recipients a very long time ago.

Dr Maggie Atkinson is Children’s Commissioner for England


About the series

OPM is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and as a public interest organisation, we’ve always contributed to the debate about the future of public services.

With this and the next general election in mind, we’ve asked a number of senior thinkers to give their views on the challenges and opportunities facing public services and society in the near future.

This is one of a series of guest blogs, which we’ll be adding to in the coming weeks and months. To read previous posts in the series, go to our news and comment page.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Unlocking the role of key worker

The concept of a key worker is central to many models of integration. Indeed it is a requirement of the Better Care Fund that where there is an integrated package of care, there should be an accountable professional for it. Whether this is the same or different from a key worker and whether the Government’s ambition suggested in the GP Mandate that a GP is the named accountable professional in all cases, is still unclear. Nevertheless many integrated care models are pushing forward in establishing multi-disciplinary teams, both actual and virtual, with the key worker holding the central position. And yet, there is not one unified perception of the role.

I was reminded of this during a training session for the role of key worker held at the end of last year in a London locality. There was a distinct split between the different professions about the key worker concept.

Health clinicians expressed concern that a key worker without a health background was unlikely to identify health needs in a patient. This role would still need to be done by a colleague from health. If this was the case the participants argued, then the appointment of a key worker was an unnecessary additional layer of bureaucracy and an additional professional for the individual patient to relate to.

Social care professionals, both social workers and occupational therapists, found the concept much easier to accept. They had no difficulty with the idea that a key worker may not be from their own discipline.

Social workers were generally accepting that the role would extend beyond the period of active intervention from them in their professional capacity. They shared this acceptance with GPs who were clear that their responsibility was for the lifetime of the patient and thus being a key worker did not conflict with their clinical responsibility.

Both therapists and nurses found the extended responsibility of a key worker at odds with their usual practice of closing their involvement with an individual when their treatment plan was completed. They struggled with the notion that the responsibilities of the key worker were not necessarily related to their own clinical responsibilities.

All participants worried about the additional duties the role of key worker would add to their already pressured professional lives and the accountability for others actions (or lack of action) which may come with the job.

Perhaps considering the key worker role as that of the skilled helper may help to deconstruct the responsibilities a key worker would hold. For those of us who were trained in social work with G. Egan’ s The Skilled Helper as our core text, this will not be too difficult to do. Egan talks about a skilled helper who can support an individual ‘to manage their problems in living more effectively and develop unused opportunities more fully’, and to ‘help people become better at helping themselves in their everyday lives.’

Such a definition of the work of the key worker still leaves each profession with their own responsibilities, but ensures each individual patient is provided with someone who will help them explore their needs, seek support to meet those needs and take control of their lives. It does seem that this uncomplicated view of the key worker which focuses on the needs of the patient is what health and social care integration really wants to achieve.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Simulations and Futures

Anxiety is the worst mental state to be in – it’s what happens when we feel threatened by events outside of our control – it’s what happens when we are afraid of what might happen but feel paralysed to do anything about it. For leaders in the public sector – politicians as well as managers – anxiety levels are now running high.

In heroic cultures, and bureaucratic cultures (and the public sector is both) we tend to repress our feelings and put a brave face on things. And since we don’t own up to emotions at work, we are left trying to deal with high levels of anxiety on our own.

The first round of cuts was painful, but achieved mostly by salami slicing – finding waste and inefficiency yes, but also stopping doing things that were less important, or not easily missed, or would not show up for a while. Finding the new cuts is proving far more problematic – there is no-where to go now without cutting services that the public depend on – but no-one wants to hear that.

So public sector managers are trying to be innovative and creative – and are trying to find radical changes that might save millions by working in new ways. Many of these experiments are exactly that – experiments – but there’s a huge amount riding on them. We don’t know what will happen in the future. We don’t know if, or how, change will work. So anxiety returns.

Futures work – environment scanning, developing future scenarios – even full scale simulations are a brilliant way to turn the energy that fuels anxiety into action. If we translate our thoughts about the future into exploration – we see how many changes interact together – we get the full measure of the things that worry us – and we discover opportunities we hadn’t thought of.

I recently worked with the top fifty or so managers and senior politicians in a courageous, go-ahead council – working within three different political, social and economic scenarios for 2018. Each scenario had different threats, and different opportunities – but in each the objective was to take over 50million out of the budget causing the minimum harm. We worked in three cross-departmental teams – at high speed – we had to find the savings in two and a half hours! The worst case scenario was very tough (and I made sure the leader of the council had to tackle that one) – but by facing it – and exploring – both managers and politicians were able to think the unthinkable. Of course there was a lot of guesswork, and a lot of ‘rounding up’ – but what was impressive was the level of courage, the care for residents and the lack of defensiveness – managers trusted each other and were willing to make cuts in their own departments to protect the value they saw in other council activities.

The honesty with which managers confronted the hard facts meant that they stopped looking for easy ways out, and contemplated all sorts of radical innovation. All three groups found ways of making the savings – but when we put the solutions together, we found that between them they saved 80million –giving us a range of viable projects to develop and 30 million headroom. We knew that not everything would work, and we could give politicians the assurance they needed that some of the worst case options would probably not be needed. But staring at the options focussed minds, and strengthened resolve. Working in the future didn’t give certainty – but it helped everyone see what the choices were – and understand what the consequences would be if innovation failed. What made the whole exercise successful was the transparency – the willingness to think together, to wonder out loud, to check out ideas in real time with politicians – and to share learning.

So if your managers, or your politicians, are paralysed by worry about the future – get them to spend time living in it instead. Not only is it energising, it helps to actively plan a way through.