Hell and High Water

Two months neglect of my blog while flirting with that youthful newcomer that is Twitter but I am now over the honeymoon.

I am currently reading the five star Hell and High Water by Alastair McKintosh who is Scotland’s first professor of human ecology. He is so insightful when explaining climate change, hope and the human condition, when I grow up I want to write a book like this. Fifty pages in I am knocked out by his turn of phrase to explain knowledge management:

The limitations of our (individual) intellects mean that … we all have to rely on experts. As such, trust in the work of others … is both necessary and precious. In many societies, the trust held by the educated is considered a sacred responsibility.

… knowledge will always tend to create elites. When such elites have power, the intensity of their specialisation gives rise to blind spots. A wise society must therefore ‘democratise’ knowledge… test it for blind spots, and set it against the ethic of service to the community.

I think we have all seen these blind spots recently from MP’s expenses, the banking systems toxic debt and even the plight of the Ghurkas.

A lot of my recent work has been using Cognitive edge techniques such as Future backwards and anecdote circles which I am convinced go a long way to spotlighting some of these blind spots and allowing a shared and more complete understanding of a situation while testing it against the values and beliefs of that particular community.

McKintosh has a great understanding of complexity theory which I will blog about later but will finish on his very simple recipe for ‘good’ ecological design of buildings for which he gives us two principles:

Minimise embodied energy – that which is embodied in the manufacture of construction materials and maximise energy efficiency – during a building’s lifetime.


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