Blog posts

Strategic Ignorance and The Wealth of Nations

In her book, The Unknowers, How strategic ignorance rules the world (2019), Linsey McGoey analyses arguments that Adam Smith made in his seminal eighteenth century economic treatise The Wealth of Nations. Free-market economists use Smith’s work to justify their economic philosophies but McGoey explains that The Wealth of Nations was made up of five ‘books’…

Learning from success, learning from failure

A main idea that I promote on this website is that identifying and adopting guiding principles is a key issue in successful problem solving. We can learn about such principles by observing how successful projects are managed and from identifying the reasons for failures when they occur. In this post I analyse one of each…

A task force for the Covid-20 pandemic response

No, that is not an error in the title.  I wish to reflect on how we should react when the next pandemic arrives. The Government would appoint an appropriately led task force of eclectically chosen experts to be responsible for drawing up the plan of action and for coordinating its implementation.  This is different from…

A prime minister gets smart about energy planning

Here is a transcript of an imagined meeting at the office of a Prime Minister and CC, a person with a reputation for successful project delivery. PM I have a special mission for you.  We want you to carry out an investigation into how the Government should make decisions for energy policy.  Have a look…

A general takes advantage of his luck

In the late 1920s, early 1930s Ralph Bagnold was an engineering officer in the British Army stationed in Cairo. He and his colleagues explored the Libyan Desert in specially fitted Model T Ford cars. Although this was not a military operation – they travelled during their vacation time – it was serious exploration: they took…

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