I sat in St James's Park this lunchtime with Robert Brook. We talked quite a lot about organisations, and how broken so much seems right now - and how hard it is for our institutions to make things work at the pace that is possible, that people expect, that technology promises.
I got to meet @redmamba, who was great. We talked about the risk that people become locked, repressed, almost imprisoned in organisational process that means they can't make things better, achieve change, and all the other things that those with fire in their belly want to do.
I explained how I often think that the problem is that people are hired not to do other things - they're locked into one role, one problem. This is used to keep them away from doing other things.
Photo: Westminster, London. 19 July 2010.
Today was the day that David Cameron outlined more about his "Big Society" vision. I explained that I'd walked to work this morning wondering why none of the truly progressive people I know seem to have been welcomed as part of it.
Robert talked about those "doing the real work". Those focused on small pieces, that all add up. He was kind enough to say he thought I fitted in that category, as did our pal Dominic Campbell. I promised to publish a piece I'd written recently about how people define success.
I talked about Austin Williams, my old friend at the Future Cities Project, who for years has been arguing about the risks of a rise in "parochialism". With its carefully chosen case studies from two spots in Cumbria (one reasonably well off rural, one fairly poor suburban) the whole Big Society thing has that air about it.
I talked about how I'd got to meet Charles Handy, finally, a few weeks ago. I enthused about Handy's amazing late '80s book, "The Age of Unreason", which set out a future where people would have "portfolio lives". This feels more relevant than it ever has been, yet Handy's out of fashion. I told Handy how his writing had shaped my entire career - how I'd built my work on those principles, but how disappointingly few other people seen to have done so, even though it makes sense. He seemed genuinely delighted that I had.
Robert and I discussed the disappearance of "management education" as a remotely credible, useful activity since the decline in MBAs. He felt that maybe some other kind of leadership techniques would emerge, some other kind of leadership culture perhaps.
I was approached by a teenage girl asking if I could take a picture of her and her friends. Which I did (having turned them around so the light would be better). She was really polite and cheerily thanked me as they walked away.
I asked Robert about how he uses Twitter - that his use of it seems so intense, that does it not take over? He was amazingly relaxed about the whole thing. For him it's just something that's there - if it wasn't, he wouldn't mind. I suggested that maybe if he'd been alive in a different era, he just would have quickly mastered different tools of the era - that some people just grasp such tools ahead of others.Mark Charmer is founder of The Movement Design Bureau.