The Future of the Family. Thinking Tank 10.10.2009

The most supported idea (over 8o%) was that the perfect family would be

  • a family full of support, affection and belief in you

This was despite the fact that half the group agreed that

  • family can be seen as a restriction

Overall, we had two main points of view represented in the debate, those supporting a traditional, strong, nuclear family and those who took a more fluid view.

Threats to families in today’s world

Families are seen as facing some challenges today – from societal changes and other distractions

Family life has changed from a nostalgia of sledging and Sunday tea to a confusing, challenging chaos

  • Anti-social behaviour

Changing state of families

But the changes are not all problematic. The new openness of the idea of family is also seen by many as an opportunity

  • Cultural diversity is a challenge not a threat
  • Monocultures are easier to manage but don’t offer the same opportunities.
  • More varied structures have potential to accommodate a greater number of individual needs

Next steps

Meanwhile, most of us are part of a family, so what should we do for the best? These ideas were supported by the group:

For ourselves:

  • So we’ll go through a messy patch – and then… brave new world
  • Parenting today is more about leadership than dictatorship

Support each other

  • Accepting that being a family doesn’t mean necessarily living under one roof
  • A general broadening of the sense of ‘family’

For the authorities

  • Challenge organisations who still produce forms that are impossible to fill in if you’re not a “proper” family
  • Minister: promote positive family models, based on values and behaviour, not structure
  • More inclusiveness then exclusiveness


If you have connections with any such group or individuals and could help to set something up then please contact the Thinking Tank to discuss how we could make this happen.

If you have personal concerns on these issues then there are various organizations working positively in this area who may be able to help you.

If you represent such an organization and would like a link from this page, please let us know.

If you would like to see a full list of statements please email me

Business as usual or time for a change? Thinking Tank 27.08.2009

Overall the group are aware of the need for a change in style in this Thinking Tank carried out in partnership with Aspire Coaching. The time for rigid leadership styles is over, in our fast changing world, flexibility is key.

  • Someone like Obama is changing what being a leader means

80% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSFORMATIONAL (traditionally female) attributes.
Communicating is the most frequently mentioned behaviour for a leader today while the need for emotional intelligence and empathy are also well recognised. Teamwork is an important aspect of this approach.

  • The key attributes are good communications, clarity of vision and purpose, high emotional intelligence, openness

The group see a growing need for honesty and openness in the way senior management deal with their teams… as well as a demand for a more ethical and sustainable approach to business decisions

The remaining 20% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSACTIONAL (traditionally male) attributes.
Despite the emphasis on transformational attributes there were also several comments about the need to be tough as a leader.

  • Leadership is a tougher job in an uncertain climate and it takes more than a sympathetic ear for staff concerns!

Some comments are about leadership in general – neither transformational nor transactional
Clarity and focus are important for any type of leader and inspiring visionary leaders are valued. Customers are mentioned in the context of the need to understand their needs in order for the business to survive

Lastly, the process of business leaders in a peer group discussion was seen as useful by many participants and there was a desire for ongoing on-line connections

  • We need some radical changes. Business and people need to be led by STRONG leaders with clear vision and the will to tackle the issues

The wordcloud for the whole debate looks like this (the bigger the word, the more it was used / supported). See full report here.results leadership 0908

New Year New Politics? Thinking Tank 07.01.2009

As Obama steps into his new role, at the Thinking Tank we started the year with an experiment in reaching political decisions without political parties. A number of you proposed motions and we worked together to look at the key pros and cons and reach a decision.

And yes, it worked. Online technology offers different opportunities and we had a thoughtful and constructive debate which led to the following motions (in order with the most strongly supported first) being agreed by the majority.

PROPOSAL: No more party politics. Governments should govern – but guided by constant monitoring of the needs of the people they serve.

  • Even what we are doing now [online brainstorming] is a method that can be used better by politicians – be it already to check alignment
  • It will engage and give some responsibility back: people can then no longer talk about them the government or politicians

PROPOSAL: We cannot afford to economise on innovation

  • Necessity is the mother of invention. we need innovation now to address global warming, food distribution, wars, lonely old people, so many problems still waiting for solutions
  • Innovation creates energy, hope, new opportunities a future.. and this is perspective is what we all need

PROPOSAL: A new global movement should be started based on the principle that each individual is a member of the world constituency.

  • This would help to overcome the “them and us” approach and remind us that we share the planet and all need to cooperate to survive
  • innovation could come from an internationally important project such as power, disease eradication, poverty addressing, etc. But not by individual Govts, as they would tend to be selfish

PROCESS (on-line debating and convergence)

There were also some interesting observations about the process of online brainstorming in order to develop our thinking and reach better conclusions

  • This is a good tool to get quick feedback and input on key choices
  • Even what we are doing now is a method that can be used better by politicians – it’s all ready to check alignment
  • Present-day technology (such as blogs), is a useful tool for ‘direct democracy’

Proposal: start www.ThinkingTank aligning more and more people in this idea

  • The Obama texting captured people’s attention when everyone thought voting was doomed to decline… this could do the same
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