Holiday reading, good thinking time

28th Oct 2019


For those at the Carbon Connect launch the other week, you would have spotted me wearing a suntan. Yes, I’ve been away on holiday. For the team at EUA, that’s usually bad news, because it gives me “reading or thinking time” and that inevitably means extra work for them.

So yes, I read an interesting book – “Rebel ideas – the power of diverse thinking” by Matthew Syed, exploring the view that organisations need some diversity, or challenge in their thinking, that organisations can attract like-minded individuals to them, which might make them feel comfortable but could hamper their ability to solve the challenges they face. 

And I did think to myself, does this happen in our world? (Obviously the answer is yes, to some extent it does). Let’s take, theoretically, of course, an organisation dedicated to advising on how to achieve the UK’s decarbonisation target. Given the nature of this body, I suspect it recruits key staff who through the process, end up being similar in outlook; or background or education. I’m not criticising this, but pointing out the risk that this can happen and what the consequences might be.

Suppose their Board too, shares similar characteristics. The risk is that what might be obvious to them, in terms of recommendations, may inadvertently be skewed because of their shared backgrounds. I’m not for one moment saying it is happening but merely pointing out what the risks might be.

Imagine advisors suggesting a route to decarbonise that might cost the consumer an extra £500 a year, as an example. If this group has no one who has really been fuel poor, or had experience in that field, this might seem a small price to pay to save the planet. But for the 4million households living in fuel poverty, it might as well be £5 million, because it is out of reach.

All organisations run this risk, I used the above to illustrate what the consequences might be and to encourage us all to ask whether we encourage that divergent opinion or view. Meanwhile, read the book, it’s a good read (and I’m not on commission either).       

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO