Thursday, 25 June 2015


Three stories in the Edinburgh Evening News reveal an unpleasant aspect to Edinburgh, especially if you are travelling about. The first highlights the difficulty of getting picked up at Waverley train station.  Has anyone thought about car access to this train station, as it is difficult to be dropped off or picked up, particularly in Market Street, which is one of the easier access points? There is plenty of room for taxi's and coaches, but for cars, it is a logistical nightmare. The second story draws attention to delays in getting through security at Edinburgh Airport, with reported hour long queues and people missing their flights. The third reveals the suggestion to have integrated coverage of the whole of Edinburgh by CCTV for reasons of public safety and traffic management. However, it also raises the possibility that the movements of individuals can be tracked. Welcome to Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Distributed Governance through lens of VSM

The VSM (Viable System Model) was developed by Stafford Beer in the 1960s to 1980s and offers a powerful framework to make sense of organisational complexity, in particular, governance structures.

It focuses attention upon how discretion to make decisions is distributed throughout the organisational entity, irrespective of whether this is a firm, region, sector or nation state. Each named unit has its own sense of identity and a degree of autonomy, whilst accepting membership to a bigger whole. Thus, it supports collective activity in a co-ordinated manner, yet also is adaptive to changing circumstances, whether small or great. An effective adaptive mechanism leads to greater resilience to deal with the unexpected. Nevertheless, it adaptation is not passive and responsive, but proactive, innovative and creative. Innovation emerges in  its broadest sense from all elements of the system. Innovation, viability and sustainability is everyone's business. The VSM supports the design of more effective democratic and distributed governance structures and conditions more conducive to achieving aims.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


The joy of finding the vacancy that fits personal aspirations is undermined by the discovery of the need to fill an online application form. The consequent frustration of trying to 'fit' the detail of one's CV into the constraining fields of the online form, is accompanied by the time wastefully spent in data entry and re-entry. And then there is the pain to discover that the 5 or 6 hours spent entering data into the online facility was a complete waste of time because your application was turned down.

This whole process may be ideal for the more 'standard' profiles, but for idiosyncratic individuals with a unique profile, it is a deterrent. Moreover, whilst it might be argued that it provides a degree of equity with regard to how applications are handled as well as discourages all but the most committed, this is not the case. How many good applicants have been discouraged because of the time wasting nature of this process? In other words, it is sub-optimal. Moreover, it fails to capture those very revealing details that provide insight into an potentially good candidate. Someone who does meet the standard profile, but offers an interesting but 'different' profile, so who is perhaps an even more appropriate candidate.

There are many other arguments both for and against online job applications, but the fundamental issue is whether those recruiting recognise the distinction between when the online process enables or hinders the effectiveness of the recruitment process. In the latter case of hinderance, it could be argued that the barrier of time is discriminatory.  It is perhaps time that those recruiters who insist upon online forms to be completed, rethink their strategies and adopt more effective approaches for enticing the more desirable candidates for vacancies. Good practices should not require blind adherence to technology use.