Anti-innovation mind sets

I’m not a lone voice in condemning the ‘keep it simple -stupid’ and ‘anti-innovation’ mind-set found in so many UK institutions; from education, through industry to research. Today’s Financial Times (February 5 / 6) has three relevant letters: two on the Letters page and the third in the Weekend Magazine Reply Your Comments, Letters.

Dennis J.D. Sandole, Professor of Conflict Resolution and International Relations, ICAR, George Mason University, Arlington, US commented on a previous piece by Gillian Tett (“The tunnel-vision thing”, Jan 29/30)

“Tett also observes that upper financial and military management … are taking steps to ensure that their colleagues practise their specialist trades within a context that includes the bigger picture.
By doing so, and appreciating the interconnections among various components of the global problematique, they can better manage the phenomenon of unintended consequences and become more a part of the solution than of the problem. …

This is the ultimate value of complexity theory, which Tett’s article helps us appreciate. By recognising that everything is connected to everything else and, therefore the problems of the 21st century cut across traditional discimplinary, organisational and political boundaries, we might become empowered to actually get things done!”

Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics, London WC2, UK opens his letter:

“The closure of Pfizer’s research centre in Kent (Reports, February 2) will deal yet another blow to the UK’s international competitiveness. ….”

and he concludes:

“If the UK plc wants its long-term prospects for growth to be underpinned by a strong knowledge-based economy. It will need to invest more in our world-class research base.

In a complementary letter, Prof Jeremy Ramsden, Cranfield University, Beds, UK opens his letter:

“Although the closure of the Pfizer research laboratories in Kent is a severe blow to the UK, we should be under no illusion about the slow but steady weakening of our research base. The problem is increasing concentration on mainstream, ie. more pedestrian and less innovative work. The research councils encourage this with their heavy emphasis on peer review of research proposals. ”

He concluded:

“All the really key innovations – penicillin, glass fibre-reinforced polymers, the jet engine – are of this nature, but the present organisation of UK science is very effective at discouraging such work. We need to dismantle the hindrances.”

The picture is grimmer than any of the letters indicate. As the latest PISA results point out, we cannot not rely on a future world-class educated work force to help us out here. The short version of a, not too complex, set of interconnections is that teaching is itself rooted in the very world view identified by all three letter writers. Complicit in enforcing proper compliance are Ofsted, the BPsS and HPC. They act as gatekeepers to prescribed non-deviance. Deviations from the norm are objectifed as malfunctioning cognitive, behavioural or emotional entities instead of being viewed as caused by particular person-person interactions. Each gatekeeper embodies the very inadequacies identified by Dennis Sandole, Bob Ward and Jeremy Ramsden.

A wholesome trinity

About petermathews

Member of the Royal Society of Medicine
This entry was posted in Common Ground, Complexity theory, Innovation, News, Pedagogy, Psychologists and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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