Why this blog?

–Like so many others, I’m provoked into writing by what I’ve read or heard. Also like others, I file away ideas that didn’t make it into publications, but which seem too good to toss as they wait for a better home. This blog is to be their home.

I’ve tried to bring the remainders into some order as prompts, probes and optics: prompts when they pose important questions, probes when they reach for answers, optics when they recast the question or answer more tractably.

Most are short and standalone. Some deploy ridicule, the only honorable weapon we have left today, says novelist Muriel Spark. The connecting aim throughout is to provoke the reader into thinking further about reliability and unpredictability in the complex messes we call public policymaking and management.

I will have failed in this blog if you do not find something important you haven’t heard or read before.

–I want you to think of yourselves as castaways on the Island of Yes-But. Two tricky crosscurrents surround it. On one side is the tide race about how no one wants to hear policy and management issues are more complex than they know. Yes, but: Even though it doesn’t help to tell them, “Get a grip. You’re an adult. Things are complex,” we nonetheless have a duty of care to ensure decisionmakers appreciate the issues aren’t as simple as they often think or insist.

On the other side is the tide race about why we analysts ourselves never really know what to advise decisionmakers until we cast it as story or argument to be told succinctly. Yes, but: Every sentient analyst knows there has been the dumbing down of policy and management into PowerPoint presentations, elevator speeches, and the 280-character tweet.

The Island of Yes-But is where its castaways are able nevertheless able to find ways to provide advice. My aim is to convince you it’s worth a longer stay on your part. Yes-men, no; yes-but castaways, yes and. . .

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