Every Country is Perfectly Designed …

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This article rings true to me, as the UK’s current challenges are not just economic. They are structural and cultural. The society wants (deserves?) to be a modern, socially liberal and inclusive one, northern European with a strong NHS, care for those in need, social safety nets, strong on human rights, strong on both arts and science etc. But it has been run for years as America-light. So we see deteriorating infrastructure, austerity not investment, growing inequality (both personally and regionally) and all without the innovation / productivity engines needed to sustain that kind of society.

We are essentially ‘stuck in the middle’, massively compounded by Brexit and isolationist thinking – and of course immigration scare-mongering. This is not just about practical impact but in national mindset. With the clear and ongoing Tory Government incompetence, populist management by slogan, and a whiff of corruption to serve the elite few, this is a perfect storm. It all feels much worse to me than when I left in 1981, not to come back for 20 years. And I say that as a well-off citizen.

A wise colleague of mine once wrote ‘Every organisation is perfectly designed to get the results that it gets’. That goes for countries, too.

The UK needs social and cultural renewal not just economic improvement. And right now Labour isn’t offering much more than the Tories. It’s not just the economy, stupid. And it’s not just about two parties. It is about everyone in the UK.

And before I get hit by the ‘talking the country down’ brigade, true patriotism is seeing what is in front of you as a nation and working to improve things, not trying to turn the clock back. Our family tree goes back to England not long after the Doomsday Book, but I’d rather think about what’s best for our children than try to appease our ancestors.


HANNA, David P. 1988. Designing Organizations for High Performance. University of Michigan: Addison Wesley.

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