Question Time

I had the immense pleasure of meeting David Dimbleby after I was invited to BBC’s Question Time at the Mick Jagger Centre the other week.  Click on the image to watch the show in full.  I managed to get a comment into the debate about globalisation, around 38 minutes into the piece:

Click to view Question Time at the Mick Jagger Centre

Click to view Question Time at the Mick Jagger Centre

The question I addressed was about global trade and its impact on working conditions.  Globalisation is an inevitable consequence of the internet and global communications and is probably connected to the time when we were first able to move goods around the world.  Like most things, it has desirable effects and less desirable consequences.  It is too simple in my view to suggest that we can regulate bad practices in sweatshops of the world by social disapproval or tariffs, nor is it realistic to expect that ‘the market’ will solve the problem by refusing to buy cheap goods.  Having travelled and worked widely in India I was surprised to find myself agreeing with David Starkey, the controversial historian, who accurately pointed out that no significant growth had ever occurred without the exploitation of human capital.  That said, I also agreed with Shirley Williams, who pointed out that this did not make exploitation right or acceptable.

This problem is complex and systemic and it therefore requires a systemic and multifaceted solution.  I was reminded of the ‘wicked problems’ grid, which we use in our consulting on complex and interconnected business topics:

Wicked problems

Such topics do not lend themselves to ‘digital’ A or B type answers and I was pleased to see that this came out in the debate.  Some general transferable points on ‘wicked problems’:

  1. To resolve complex problems requires us to ask great questions.  THis has the effect of reducing the uncertainty inherent in such problems.
  2. It’s ALWAYS a mistake to jump to ‘solutions’ to ‘joined up problems’ or attempt to reduce them to A or B dialectics.
  3. Complex problems can often be resolved by a combination of visionary thinking and systematic divergent and convergent thinking.
  4. More on this topic in our books Best Practice Creativity and Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll, available at BOOKS.

On a lighter note, we had a bit of fun off camera.  When David Dimbleby arrived, his first question to the audience was “Has anyone seen the show?” to which there was only one reply I could give:  “No, is it a new series?” 🙂  Later on in the ‘warm up’, I responded to the trial question, which was “Should Her Majesty the Queen now hand over power to her family?”  As we were in the Mick Jagger centre, I was compelled to break rule No 2 above by saying to the panel:

“If Mick Jagger were here, he would say ‘Not Fade Away’ – in other words, she should not retire”

On that note, let’s see the song that inspired the quip:


2 responses to “Question Time

  1. Peter, congrats on the appearance. You truly are a business consulting rock star! Interesting that the Rolling Stones ‘Not Fade Away’ appearance was on the Mike Douglas Show which originated from my native Philadelphia. I spent many an afternoon in the show’s green room during tapings with an old boyfriend who was an A&R guy for one of the great Philly record labels of the day and would accompany their artists to the show. Unfortunately for him The Stones weren’t his. Thanks for the memories!! BTW…The Douglas Show had a killer band that included my favorite unsung upright bass player, Jim DeJulio.


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