Back at work after a very soggy August in Devon. It was my idea for our holiday group to stay in the UK and every cloudy, rainy, windswept morning I would come down to a kitchen full of wet clothes and recriminatory looks.
On a holiday dominated by talk of the weather one thing I learnt was that the quality of the UK’s summer – particularly on the western side of the country – is all dictated by the location of something called the Azores High.
If only I’d listened in school geography I could have know in July that we were doomed to being damp
for a month. I could have packed more waterproofs, left my shorts in the attic, or just bought a cheap flight to Greece.
Anyway there’s nothing like a disappointing holiday to make you glad to be back at work. It’s great to see our lecture season kicking off again with two strong events. On Thursday lunchtime we have the brilliant and brave Egyptian writer Alaa Al-Aswany and in the evening Polly Toynbee will be discussing with David Willets among others her new book which seeks to expose the attitudes of the new super rich
and the damaging impact they have (according to Polly) on the rest of society.
For me the big challenge for the RSA over the next period is about alignment. Regular critics of my blog will
shake their head at my use of management jargon so let me explain.
Over the last two years I hope we have established a reasonably clear account of the RSA’s purpose. Whether we talk about ‘pro-social behaviour’, or ‘closing the social aspiration gap’ what we mean essentially is that the RSA seeks to help people be the people they need to be to create the future they want. We do this through providing a platform for ideas, undertaking research and development and through supporting the activities of our Fellowship.
This is the theory but the practice is harder. If we are to develop a really strong intellectual and organisational brand we need every encounter with the RSA to speak to this account.
So, we should show how our lectures, web contents and journal articles relate to the theme. Our research projects should focus on how we enable people individually and collectively to be the people they need to be to create a better future. And every contact with the RSA Fellowship, nationally, regionally and locally should
reinforce the idea of the RSA as an organisation of ambition, ideas and action.
Almost daily people used to say to me ‘The RSA; sounds interesting but what does it actually do?’ I hear this less often now but we have still got a long way to go before everything we do can be said to reinforce our image and our vision.
Finally, have a look at my Guardian Comment is Free piece.
As we begin to imagine the post-pandemic world, we need to challenge our use of old metaphors to allow for new narratives and better futures to emerge.
With the post-Christmas resolutions looming, when we try to address the worst of our seasonal over-indulgences, the question remains: how can we give up bad habits for good?