Today I started working on a new project – Inclusive Economy Partnership – at the Cabinet Office. I’ll be there for two days a week for the immediate future. I can’t tell you the details (yet) but I can tell you why I’m excited.
An unexpected part of going independent: other people have been suggesting me to organisations who need advice on systemic change toward a sustainable society. Basically, doing my business development for me. Long may that continue!
Giles Bristow did exactly this for me. He was speaking with the Cabinet Office, the government department that supports the UK Prime Minister, and they said they needed a senior body to work in their Business Partnerships team. The project: Inclusive Economy Partnership (rather inevitably, ‘IEP’). Over the last few months I’ve been in conversation with the team. Today is my first day of doing two days a week for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately I can’t give much in the way of details on the Inclusive Economy Partnership. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the UK being an economy that works for everyone through a multi-stakeholder partnership. There are more details, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. What I’m bringing to the party is system change design skills, understanding of business and – frankly – availability. It will take 2 days a week but I’ll still have room for other things.
What I can say is why I said yes, in the context of establishing a portfolio career. In particular, there are three:
- Be at the vanguard of responding to post-industrial struggles of Western nations. Back in August 2016 I wrote that the UK will now become a testbed in responses to globalisation. The IEP is a chance to be at the heart of that in the UK. It is about shifting the on-going dynamic of the UK economy. That’s a good outcome to be contribute to of itself, and a great chance to learn about approaches to a cluster of issues which will be increasingly important.
- Experiment with project methods inspired by ’embracing complexity’. The team here have a core concept (sorry, can’t say more) which I’m helping them fill out and then run. It’s a chance for me to test hypotheses about how to design and run an institutional interventions that evolve our political economy.
- Experience in government. I’ve worked a lot with business. And this project will use that experience and networks. But it’s an opportunity to be inside government, and see its strengths and struggles.
- A steady income. In AntiFragile, Taleb talks about having a dumbbell of risks: one hump of low risk activities, and another hump of high risk ones. From an income point of view, this is a low risk activity. It can subsidies the high risk ones, moonshots with small chance of happening but a big impact if they do.
Of course, it could all go wrong. I could do a rubbish job, or get frustrated with how things are done, or the core concept might fall apart as we take it forward. But there’s a chance of making some people’s lives better, and learning about tilting the landscape at the same time. Lots to do! And very excited!