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Dennis Sherwood

Managing Director at The Silver Bullet Machine Manufacturing Company Limited

Exton, Rutland, United Kingdom

The room went silent. Wow! Why haven't we discovered that idea before? Incredible! We'd thought that it was just impossible to migrate the IT in less than two years. Now we can see how to do it, safely and robustly, in six months at most. Great. That removes the road block. We'll brief the Board next week, and the deal can then be approved.

I'm not making that up. That actually happened at a workshop I ran for one of the largest companies in the world. And the deal did go ahead, successfully.

And that's just one, real, example - an example of a seemingly insoluble problem, but one which did in fact have a solution. But a solution that can be discovered only by some very well-orchestrated, focused, thinking; thinking in which domain experts, with all the right knowledge, unlock their minds, ask the right questions, and discover the hitherto undiscoverable.

That example was about IT; I have any number of others about the invention of new products, process improvement and cost reduction, teamwork, culture change, and strategy too.

That's what I do: work with engineers, marketing teams, hospital personnel, retailers, university professors, utilities, major corporations, schools... to generate great ideas, to evaluate them wisely, and to build an enterprise culture in which safe, deliberate creativity becomes "the way we do things around here", and the resulting innovation is well-managed and successful.

To do this, I draw on some powerful tools and techniques that I invented myself, as well as using well-established methods such as systems thinking.

And I'm very good at it. Check out my 10 books. And - at the time of writing - I rank #1 in six Thinkers360 categories - Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management and Climate Change.

My experience is pretty good too. I have a 1st class degree in Physics from Clare College, Cambridge, an MPhil in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale, a PhD in Biology from the University of California at San Diego, as well as being a Sloan Fellow, with distinction, from London Business School.

After all that, I was for 12 years a consulting partner in Deloitte, Haskins + Sells and Coopers & Lybrand; an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs; a partner with Bossard Consultants; and also the Managing Director of the UK Operations of SRI Consulting.

Now I'm MD of my own business, The Silver Bullet Machine Manufacturing Company Limited. And we do 'what it says on the tin': we manufacture "Silver Bullet Machines" for our clients. Those aren't machines like lathes and presses. Rather, they're the organisational capabilities and processes to have stunning ideas, again and again and again; to distinguish wisely between the good ideas and the not-so-good, on inevitably limited evidence; to implement the outcomes successfully - and to derive organisational, and often societal, benefits as a result.

Does that make sense? Is that of interest?

If "yes", please contact me at dennis@silverbulletmachine.com. I won't ignore your email!

Available For: Authoring, Consulting, Influencing, Speaking
Travels From: England
Speaking Topics: Design Thinking; Taming Complexity; Creativity and Innovation; Systems Thinking

Speaking Fee $10,000

Dennis SherwoodPoints
Academic40
Author539
Influencer36
Speaker73
Entrepreneur80
Total768

Points based upon Thinkers360 patent-pending algorithm.

Thought Leader Profile

Portfolio Mix

Featured Videos

Featured Topics

Yes, you too can be creative!!!

A fast-paced, interactive, high-energy session on the key elements of design thinking: 'deliberate creativity' (how to have great ideas, 'on demand', whenever and wherever a great idea would be helpful), and 'wise evaluation' (how to distinguish, wisely, between the good ideas and the not-so-good, inevitably on limited evidence, and so manage the risks of innovation). Packed with real examples (always selected carefully to be relevant to any specific community), this also includes training in Dennis's proprietary idea generation process, InnovAction! ™.

How to build a sustainable culture of safe creativity and innovation

“Unlike cutting costs, or making an acquisition, innovation does not happen just because the chief executive wills it. Indeed, it is confoundedly difficult to come up with new ideas year in, year out – especially brilliant ones. Underneath the gurus’ diagrams, lists and charts, most of the available answers seem to focus on two strengths that are difficult to create by diktat: a culture that looks for new ideas, and leaders who know which ones to back.” Although published in The Economist more than 20 years ago, these words are still true. So this presentation delivers the answers: what you can do "next Monday morning" to build that culture.

Taming Complexity, Being Creative, Managing Risk

One of the reasons why managing is difficult is because the systems that need to be managed are highly complex. How can that complexity be tamed? How can you identify policies and decisions that don't backfire, but pass the toughest test there is - the test of time? There is a methodology - 'systems thinking' - that can really help - help in enhancing understanding, help in identifying creative ways to make things better, and help in managing risk. As one of the UK's leading experts in this field, I can draw on a wealth of rich material to craft exactly the right programme to meet your needs.

Company Information

Company Type: Service Provider
Email: dennis@silverbulletmachine.com
Phone: +44-1572-813690
Business Unit: Consulting
Theatre: Europe, North America
Media Experience: > 10 years
Last Media Training: 03/05/2013
Last Media Interview: 08/24/2018

Areas of Expertise

Big Data
Business Strategy 32.63
Climate Change 100
Culture 41.25
Design Thinking 100
Edtech 41.40
Healthtech 91.97
Innovation 100
Leadership
Lean Startup 86
Management
Mergers & Acquisitions
Open Innovation 100
Predictive Analytics 100
Risk Management 100

Industry Experience

Aerospace & Defense
Building Materials, Clay & Glass
Consumer Products
Engineering & Construction
Federal & Public Sector
Financial Services & Banking
Healthcare
High Tech & Electronics
Higher Education & Research
Industrial Machinery & Components
Manufacturing
Media
Metal Products
Oil & Gas
Professional Services
Retail
Utilities

Publications

27 Article/Blogs
This year's UK school grades could be the fairest ever
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
April 04, 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, all schools in the UK have been closed, and all the major school exams cancelled. This year's grades are therefore to be awarded not on exam results, but on teachers' assessments. This is good news!

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

Writer's block
LinkedIn
March 23, 2020
An imaginary exploration of how Dylan Thomas created his masterpiece "Under Milk Wood"...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Trusting teachers is the best way to deliver this year’s exam results – and those in future years?
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
March 21, 2020
In March 2020, as a result of the Covid-19/coronavirus crisis, all schools in the UK were closed, and the annual school exams cancelled. How can students be awarded fair assessments? By trusting teachers, that's how.

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Risk Management

Lies, damned lies and... GCSE results
Impact Magazine - a publication of the UK Operational Research Society, Autumn 2019, pages 43 - 45
March 15, 2020
A systems thinking analysis of the system used for the assignment of grades to school exams in England - and the evidence for a very disturbing fact: about 1 grade in every 4 awarded each year is wrong - wrong in the sense that, had a senior examiner marked the script, the grade would have been different from the grade actually awarded. To make that real, in the summer of 2019, about 6 million grades were awarded. Of which about 1.5 million (yes, 1.5 MILLION) were wrong. But no-one knows which specific grades, or which specific candidates...

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Tags: Edtech, Innovation, Risk Management

The mystery of the missing statistic
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
December 27, 2019
Every year, Ofqual, the regulator of school exams in England, publishes mountains of statistics. But one particular statistic is missing - and the most important one too: the statistic that measures the reliability of each exam...

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Predictive Analytics

Grand Challenge - The Climate Crisis
Inside OR - a publication of the UK Operational Research Society, November 2019, pages 12 - 14
November 01, 2019
A systems thinking analysis of the climate crisis, with particular reference to Jame Lovelock's Gaia Theory - with the key finding that although reducing emissions is a good thing to do, it is not the right thing to do (in the sense that reducing emissions does not solve the fundamental problem of the historic accumulation of greenhouse gases; rather, it slows down the rate at which the problem is getting worse). What, then, is the right thing to do? Ah... take a look at the article...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Risk Management, Climate Change

Dear Ofqual...
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
August 15, 2019
An 'open letter' to Ofqual, the regulator of school exams in England, following the announcement, published on the Ofqual website on 11th August 2019, stating that "...more than one grade could well be a legitimate reflection of a student's performance...", so admitting in public, for the first time, that school exam grades are unreliable.

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Tags: Edtech, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Students will be given more than 1.5 million wrong GCSE, AS and A level grades this summer. Here are some potential solutions. Which do you prefer?
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
July 16, 2019
Here is a list of 22 ways in which school exams in England can be graded more reliably...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

10th May 2019: A landmark date in human history
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
May 11, 2019
When the history of the world is written in 1,000 years’ time, Friday 10th May 2019 will be identified as a landmark date. For it was an event that happened on that day that enabled that history to be written: had that event not happened, human life would have long since become extinct...

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Tags: Climate Change, Innovation, Risk Management

Contextual admissions - a fuller story
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
May 01, 2019
"Contextual admissions" is about the process for admission to higher education, and why much more than school exam grades should be taken into consideration. Yes. And if school grades are taken into any consideration at all, they should at the very least be reliable...

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Tags: Edtech, Innovation, Predictive Analytics

Is your institution’s culture a ‘network of mutual non-aggression treaties’?
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
April 26, 2019
An exploration of the organisational culture of higher educational institutions.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Culture, Risk Management

Yes, the grade reliability problem can be solved
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
March 04, 2019
Two teachers discuss the problem of the (un)reliability of school exams in England, and a possible solution emerges...

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Risk Management

1 school exam grade in 4 is wrong. That's the good news...
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
February 25, 2019
The evidence that, for school exams in England, about 1 grade in 4 is wrong - and has been wrong for years. This blog was published on the website of the highly influential think-tank, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and ranked no 4 in their list of the most-read blogs published in the year to 2 August 2019.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

1 school exam grade in 4 is wrong. Does this matter?
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
January 15, 2019
The evidence that, for the annual school exams in England, 1 in every 4 of the grades awarded is wrong.

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Predictive Analytics

Murder on the Academic Express
HEPI - The Higher Education Policy Institute
November 06, 2018
Hercule Poirot investigates his most challenging case yet - the inflation of academic grades...

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Risk Management

The infirmary at the end of the universe
LinkedIn
May 20, 2016
A parable about the English National Health Service - with thanks to Jonathan Swift, Nikolaj Gogol and Douglas Adams!!!

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Healthtech

Reducing emissions is a good thing, but not the right thing
The Royal Society of Arts
January 11, 2016
Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is surely a good thing to do. But unfortunately, as this article describes, reducing emissions doesn't - and can't - solve the climate crisis problem

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Tags: Climate Change, Innovation, Risk Management

President Obama needs a Manhattan Project
The Daily Banter
November 06, 2014
A blog advocating the need for a Manhattan-style project to solve the climate crisis.

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Tags: Climate Change, Design Thinking, Risk Management

Heads buried in the sand
Legal Week
February 11, 2009
Is "My way" the anthem best describing your organisation's culture? Or "With a little help from my friends?". Or is it "Walk on by"?

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Tags: Culture, Innovation, Risk Management

Koestler's Law: The Act of Discovering Creativity--And How to Apply It in Your Law Practice
ABA - The American Bar Association
December 01, 2006
A discussion of "Koestler's Law of Creativity", as it applies in particulate to law firms. Unfortunately, this article is no longer on the American Bar Association's website - so please contact me if you would like a copy,

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Don't KISS - SMOOCH!
Finance Today
January 01, 2003
We all know KISS - 'Keep it simple, stupid'. But some problems just aren't simple - they're really complex, Hence SMOOCH - Smart Managers Overcome Organisational Complexity Holistically (!) by using 'systems thinking'. This article explains how... Unfortunately, the article is not available on-line: please contact me for a copy.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Projecting Change
The London Stock Exchange - A Marketplace for the New Millennium
March 23, 1997
An article I was invited to contribute to a special publication entitled "A Marketplace for the New Millennium", compiled by the London Stock Exchange looking ahead to the new millennium. The publication had articles by many distinguished authors, such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England - mine was about what had changed over the preceding 20 years, and what might change in the next 20.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Over-capacity in the warrior-monk market
Financial Times
July 17, 1996
A feature in the Financial Times telling the story of what befell the Knights Templars at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries as a result of over-capacity in their market, and the failure of the then market-regulator - the Pope - to bring about a merger between the two major players, the Templars and the Hospitallers... This article is not on the web, so please do contact me if you would like a copy.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Culture, Risk Management

Innovation... innovation... innovation....
Gestion Collective Internationale
February 01, 1994
This article 'does what it says on the tin' - the title says it all. A contribution to a special edition of the French magazine 'Gestion Collective Internationale'. Unfortunately, this article is not on the web, so please contact me if you would like a copy.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

How to manage the modelling revolution
British Institute of Management
May 01, 1984
This article was published in the UK's leading management journal, 'Management Today', just as the IBM PC, and the early spreadsheet, Lotus 1-2-3, were launched in the UK, and promoted using computer models for budgets, cash flow predictions and all types of forecasts.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Passing the Test
Management Today
December 01, 1979
The story of how the most complex computer system of its day - the TALISMAN system for settling trades at the London Stock Exchange - was successfully tested, using a novel process that I had devised. The system stayed operational, and fully reliable, for the next 15 years. The testing had worked.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Computer Modelling
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
December 01, 1977
Two of the very first articles to appear in the UK advocating the use of computer modelling, published in two successive issues of 'Accountancy', the journal of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

10 Books
Innovation Express
ExpressExec, Capstone Publishing
March 15, 2020
An introductory guide, emphasising how Arthur Koestler's insight (that all creativity is the formation of new 'patterns' from already-existing 'components') can be harnessed as a process of what I call 'deliberate creativity' - a process I call 'InnovAction!', and a process that really works!

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Crystals, X-rays and Proteins
Oxford University Press
March 15, 2020
A throw-back to my original training as a scientist... this is a textbook on X-ray Crystallography, the second edition of a book first published by Longman in 1975.

The first edition had a very complimentary review in the magazine 'Nature' (Volume 260, 1 April 1976, page 463): under the headline "Desert Island Crystallography", the first sentence reads "A (highly) intelligent school leaver about to take up an appointment as an X-ray crystallographer in a biochemical laboratory and wrecked on a desert island on his way [yes, it does say 'his' - but this was 1976!!!], would find the present volume invaluable in equipping him [again!!!] for his new post by the time of his rescue." That's precisely what I was aiming to do...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Healthtech

Smart Things to Know about Innovation and Creativity
Capstone Publishing
March 02, 2020
A 'how to' guide about

* 'deliberate creativity' (having ideas 'on demand', whenever and wherever an idea might be helpful)
* 'wise evaluation' (how to distinguish, wisely, between the good ideas and the not-so-good, on inevitably limited evidence)
* building a culture of sustainable, safe, creativity and innovation

Crammed full of pragmatic processes, and vivid examples!

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Tags: Culture, Design Thinking, Innovation

Seeing the Forest for the Trees - A manager's guide to applying systems thinking
Nicholas Brealey Publishing
March 02, 2020
Have you ever been the victim of a quick-fix that subsequently back-fired? Or of a problem that is thrown on your desk by someone else? Or of so-called 'unintended consequences'? Or maybe you have been on the other end: taking a decision in good faith only to discover that it back-fires later, or resulted in an 'unintended consequence'. Yes, managing complexity is difficult.

That's what this book is all about: "systems thinking", the most powerful method for understanding and taming that complexity, so providing guidance as to the formulation of wise policies and wise decisions - policies and decisions that pass the toughest test there is, the test of time.

Building on Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline", "Forest for the Trees" gives you an in-depth insight as to how to read, and compile, "causal loop diagrams". And there are plenty of case studies too, from how to manage talent, to an analysis of the most complex system on the planet, the climate system.

Available in English, German, Mandarin and Russian

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Tags: Design Thinking, Predictive Analytics, Business Strategy

Creating an Innovative Culture
ExpressExec/Capstone Publishing
March 02, 2020
This book does what it 'says on the tin' - or rather what it says on the cover: down-to-earth, practical advice on what you can actually DO on 'Monday morning' to build a culture on which safe and deliberate creativity, and successful innovation are "the way we do things around here".

Fundamental to this is an understanding of the 'motivators' (aspects of the enterprise that encourage the right behaviours, such as the processes for reward and recognition), and the 'enablers' (aspects - such as training - that enable people to contribute).

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Tags: Culture, Design Thinking, Innovation

Modern Thermodynamics for Chemists and Biochemists
Oxford University Press
March 02, 2020
Yes, this is rather a long way from creativity, innovation, systems thinking and financial modelling...

...but if you know of any students of chemistry and biochemistry - and physics and engineering too - who are struggling with thermodynamics, one of the most difficult branches of science, then this book would make a great gift!

And as a by-the-by, this book is a second, and very much more comprehensive, edition: the original was published in 1971, by Longman, under the title 'Introductory Chemical Thermodynamics'

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Climate Change

Unlock Your Mind: A practical guide to deliberate and systematic innovation
Gower Publishing Limited
March 15, 1998
My first book on creativity and innovation - and still, to my knowledge, the only book in which one-half is specifically about creativity and the other about the most powerful method to understand complex systems (and so provide a meaningful basis for creativity), systems thinking. And it was very generous of the orchestral conductor, Ben Zander, to write the preface - as a by-the-by, Ben and I ran some very successful one-day conferences entitled "Orchestrating Innovation". I did the morning session, talking about creativity, and ended by saying "Creativity is something you can do by yourself, but it is far more effective and productive when done in a team. And what better example is there of a high-performing team than a symphony orchestra - as Ben Zander will vividly describe after lunch!".

A few years after Unlock Your Mind was published, I wanted to write a second edition, but the resulting test was too long. The extension of the first half therefore became Smart Things to Know about Innovation and Creativity (Capstone Publishing, 2001), and the second half became Seeing the Forest for the Trees - A manager's guide to applying systems thinking (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2002).

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Tags: Innovation, Open Innovation, Predictive Analytics

Financial Modelling - A practical guide
Gee & Co
March 02, 1983
This book was written a long, long time ago, when financial modelling - so ubiquitous today - was a highly specialised activity. At that time, the IBM PC had not yet been launched in the UK, nor had the early spreadsheet, Lotus 1-2-3, a fore-runner of Excel. To write a financial model, you might have used a remote computer time-sharing service, accessed by a clackety-clack terminal, or perhaps a new-fangled 'micro-computer' such as a Commodore Pet; and you might have used a proprietary programming language, or perhaps BASIC.

So this book broke genuinely new ground, and was the first 'how-to' guide for financial modelling to be published in the UK. But despite its age, the methods of 'best practice' described in the book, methods that ensure financial models are well thought-through and - most importantly - bug free, are still valid today.

A book - at the time - of true thought-leadership!

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Tags: Design Thinking, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Introductory Chemical Thermodynamics (Elementary Chemical Thermodynamics in the US)
Longman
March 15, 1971
My first book, on chemical thermodynamics for first-year undergraduates.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Financial Modelling - Accountants Digest no 153
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
January 01, 1970
A (very early) manual on financial modelling, setting standards of best practice that endure to this day.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

1 Book Chapter
The wise doctor and the foolish consultant: A fairy tale for our times
Beyond Alignment: Applying systems thinking in architecting enterprises
March 16, 2020
A systems thinking analysis of what might happen when a (very) conscientious medical doctor is "offered the opportunity" of running her own clinical budget... and with thanks to HC Andersen.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

2 Conference Publications
Systems Thinking by Stealth - How to washing the great unwashed!
UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society
February 07, 2002
Is the systems approach as widely used as one might expect? This paper argues that it isn’t. This is not because the approach is flawed or weak. Rather, it's because any hint of portrayal of the systems approach as ‘the method to help you change your mental models’ is likely to be perceived by successful managers
more as a threat than a benefit - many people are happy their mental models, and just don’t want them changed. How can this resistance be overcome? This paper makes a suggestion based on the insight that, before you can adopt a new mental model, you have to discard the old one; before you can learn something new, you must unlearn something old. And in general, unlearning the old is much harder
than learning the new. Perhaps we should therefore talk not of the ‘learning organisation’, but of the ‘unlearning organisation’.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Financial Modelling in the 1990s - Towards integrated decision systems
Erasmus University
May 01, 1986
The write-up of a presentation at the 'Financiering en Belegging' conference, organised by Erasmus University in Rotterdam, predicting how the use of financial models is likely to migrate from small stand-alone models towards much more sophisticated decision support systems.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

2 Founders
The Silver Bullet Machine Manufacturing Company Limited
Silver Bullet
March 15, 2020
That's my business, which does 'what it says on the tin' - we 'manufacture' the 'machines that make Silver Bullets' on behalf of our clients - which is all about building the capability for, and the sustainable organisational culture that supports, safe and deliberate creativity and innovation.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

noook limited
noook
March 15, 2020
Or rather co-founder, with my son, Torsten, of noook limited, the company that manufactures and designs Torsten's incredibly innovative construction toy, noook.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Lean Startup

3 Journal Publications
The three laws of organodynamics - London Business School Review
London Business School
November 19, 2014
A paper proposing three laws of 'organodynamics': just as the three laws of thermodynamics are instructive as to how to obtain useful work from engines, the three laws of organodynamics are instructive as to how to get useful work out of organisations! Briefly...

The First Law: Organisational energy must continuously be created lest the organisation itself be destroyed. That’s what leadership is all about.

The Second Law: Not only is it quite possible, it is absolutely inevitable that an organisation will continue to go round in circles, generating increasing amounts of heat, and progressively less useful work, unless the organisation deliberately chooses to do otherwise!

The Third Law: Organisations end up with the cultures they deserve.

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Tags: Culture, Innovation, Risk Management

The unlearning organisation
London Business School Business Strategy Review
September 01, 2000
"The learning organisation" has had much visibility, and endorses important values such as listening. As this article argues, however, the next step, beyond the organisation that listens is the organisation that creates - and to be creative, we must be willing to "unlearn"...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Culture

Helping Managers Manage
Journal of the Operational Research Society
June 01, 1985
Do conventional management accounts help managers manage? This paper argues that the answer to this question is ‘No’, primarily because conventionally prepared budgets are not accepted by managers as valid measures of performance as a result of either forecasting errors in the data used in the original budget or weaknesses in the simulation algorithms inherent in the budget. The paper then suggests that management accounts can be made more meaningful by incorporating within the management accounting system a ‘resource management system’, the basis of which is a powerful simulation model.

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

8 Keynotes
The Great Grading Scandal
Conference on "Using Data to Improve Outcomes", held at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
March 19, 2020
Keynote at a conference, Using Data to Improve Outcomes, held at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, about how big data can be analysed, alongside some nifty statistics and some insightful systems thinking, to tease out the reliability (or rather unreliability) of school examinations in England.

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Risk Management

Implementing disruptive innovation in the industrial design workplace
Valve World
December 01, 2016
A presentation at the Valve World 2016 international conference on the importance of 'deliberate creativity' to manufacturing businesses - and, importantly, how to make creativity happen.

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Tags: Culture, Design Thinking, Innovation

Broadening our footprint - A systemic challenge
European Sharing on Systems Thinking
June 17, 2015
An overview of the field of systems thinking and its applications. My presentation is not on the web - please contact me if you would like a copy.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Innovation - A strategic enterprise view
The UK Major Projects Association
February 03, 2010
A presentation, given at a conference on "Innovation in the management of major projects" organised by the UK Major Projects Association, emphasising what a senior manager can do now, "next Monday morning", to begin building a sustainable culture of safe creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, the presentation is not on the web, so please contact me for a write-up.

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Tags: Culture, Design Thinking, Innovation

Bisociation in Action
BISON
March 10, 2009
A presentation about how Arthur Koester's concept of 'bisociation' can be used, for real, in practice.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Open Innovation, Risk Management

This House believes that creativity is born, not made
Clare College Creativity Conference
September 13, 2004
Dennis proposed this motion at a debate at a conference held at Clare College Cambridge; Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology at University College London, was a most eloquent, erudite and witty opposer. And Patrick McKenna was the chair. Great fun!!!

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Tags: Innovation, Open Innovation, Risk Management

Unlock Your Mind
FAPM - Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers
May 03, 2000
A keynote presentation on the importance of creativity and innovation in the motor industry, delivered to the FAPM (Federation of Automotive Product Manufacturers) conference held on the Gold Coast, Australia, in May 2000.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Orchestrating Innovation - A conference in four movements
The Economist Conferences
October 25, 1996
In October 1996, and also in January 1998, under the umbrella of The Economist Conferences, I ran two one-day conferences with the distinguished orchestral conductor, Benjamin Zander. I ran the morning session on creativity and innovation, and ended by saying, "Yes, you can be creative by yourself - but it is far more effective and productive to work as a creative team. And what better example of a high-performing team is there than a symphony orchestra? As Benjamin Zander will explore after lunch....". Fantastic!

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

12 Media Interviews
BBC Radio 4 national broadcast on the in-depth analysis programme 'More or Less'
BBC
August 23, 2019
An interview concerning the (un)reliability of English school exam grades - the interview taking place the day after the grades were announced, and also the day after a name-check on UK radio's 'Today' programme.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

BBC Radio 4 national broadcast on the prime-time morning news show 'Today'
BBC Radio 4
August 22, 2019
A name-check on the influential UK 'Today' radio show, in which, Nick Gibb, the UK Minister for School Standards, is challenged by the interviewer, Justin Webb, about my finding that about 1 grade in every 4 is wrong. The interview took place on the day that some 5,200,000 GCSE results (for 16 year-olds) were announced - of which about 1,300,000 were wrong. But no-one knows which specific grades, or which specific students. And Nick Gibb didn't give a very good answer... as discussed on the following day's radio programme 'More or Less'.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

Candidates in up to 40% of A-level and GCSE exams may be awarded incorrect grades, study find
The Daily Telegraph
November 30, 2018
Interview with me in the UK national quality newspaper The Daily Telegraph, following the publication of a report from Ofqual, the regulator of school examinations in England, that contains evidence that the grades awarded for the GCSE and A level examinations are highly unreliable.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

More than a million GCSE results could be open to challenge due to unreliable grades, experts warn
The Daily Telegraph
August 25, 2018
Featured in an article in the UK national quality newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, in connection with the (un)reliability of the grades awarded in the GCSE and A level school examinations in England.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Predictive Analytics

Creative insight - an interview with Dr Rob Jenkins of the Global Young Academy
Global Young Academy Connections Magazine, Issue 6, 2018, pages 37 and 38
May 01, 2018
The Global Young Academy (https://globalyoungacademy.net) is a vibrant international community of young scientists. I was honoured to be interviewed by Dr Rob Jenkins, of the Psychology Department of the University of York, about creativity in general, and the psychology of creativity in particular...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Thousands of students set to receive wrong GCSE mark under new system, experts warn
The Daily Telegraph
August 23, 2017
Interview in the UK national quality newspaper, The Daily Telegraph - the first of several, over three years, concerning the (un)reliability of GCSE and A level school examinations in England.

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Tags: Edtech, Innovation, Risk Management

BBC Radio 4 nationally-broadcast panel discussion on creativity in the workplace on the programme 'Nice Work'
BBC Radio 4
July 06, 2004
Discussion with myself, and Kurt Carlson, CEO of SRI Consulting in Menlo Park, California, and Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology at University College London, and chaired by BBC presenter Philippa Lamb, about the essence of creativity.

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Tags: Innovation, Open Innovation, Risk Management

Dennis Sherwood - The Master of Innovation
The Director
February 01, 2000
An interview with me for the 'Director' magazine - the journal of the UK's Institute of Directors.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

BBC nationally-broadcast interview with me about creativity and innovation in organisations, as featured in the radio programme 'In Business'
BBC Radio 4
October 04, 1999
General interview about creativity, rather than innovation, on programme hosted by Peter Day.

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Tags: Innovation, Open Innovation, Risk Management

BBC nationally-broadcast interview with me on radio 4's programme 'Shop Talk'
BBC Radio 4
February 23, 1999
Interview with Heather Payton on how to have great ideas.

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Tags: Innovation, Open Innovation, Risk Management

Interview in the leading French business magazine, Le Nouvel Economiste
Le Nouvel Economiste
December 12, 1996
At the time of the interview, I was a London-based partner in the French consulting firm Bossard. The interview is not on the web, so please contact me for further information.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Culture

Getting to grips with cash outflow
Financial Times
December 03, 1984
A feature on the Management Page of the Financial Times describing a ground-breaking study I led of costing at a Children's Hospital in Manchester - the very first application of 'diagnostic related groups' in the UK.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Healthtech, Innovation

11 Speaking Engagements
Murder on the Academic Express
UK Operational Research Society Annual Conference
September 04, 2019
A presentation of a systems thinking analysis of grade inflation at schools and colleges: an analysis that, like Hercule Poirot's explanation of the Murder on the Orient Express, has two totally plausible - but totally different - explanations.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

How Reliable are Public Examination Grades?
UK Operational Research Society Annual Conference
September 03, 2019
In England, probably a lot less reliable than you think. In the Summer of 2019, about 6 million exam grades were awarded to England's 16 and 18 year-olds. And about 1.5 million of those were wrong. But no one knows which specific grades, or which specific candidates were the victims...

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Edtech

The climate crisis and Gaia theory
The UK Systems Society
June 24, 2019
A systems thinking analysis of climate change, with particular reference to James Lovelock's Gaia Theory, and emphasising the importance of geoengineering.

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Tags: Climate Change, Design Thinking, Risk Management

Better education - or an erosion of standards?
Universities UK
December 13, 2018
A presentation given at a conference for the UK higher education sectoring systems thinking to explore the reasons why, over recent years, there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of higher-class degrees awarded to students. The presentation is not on the web - please contact me if you would like a copy.

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Tags: Innovation, Edtech, Risk Management

The Perfect Crime
The UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society
April 12, 2018
A systems thinking analysis of a crime, committed every year in England, which has about 1.5 million victims, the vast majority of whom (that's more than 1.45 million) don't even know that a crime has been committed... The crime? The award of the wrong grades for English school exams.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

Are Regulators Doing the Wrong Thing?
Euro 2015 - the 27th European Conference on Operational Research
July 31, 2015
A systems thinking analysis of a particular aspect of regulation - the protection of the weak.

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Tags: Edtech, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Managing risk wisely, and holistically, at Ofqual
The UK Chapter of the System Dynamics Society
April 03, 2014
A presentation on how systems thinking and causal loop diagrams were used successfully to manage risks at Ofqual, the regulator of school examinations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Edtech, Risk Management

Creativity is a process you can learn
The Festival of Education
July 03, 2010
Two presentations at the UK Festival of Education, held at Wellington College, and sponsored by the Sunday Times, about how 'deliberate creativity' can be taught to - and learnt by - school students. The presentation is not on the web but please contact me if you would like a copy.

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Tags: Culture, Design Thinking, Innovation

Flights of Fancy - Qualifying for Your Pilot's Licence
Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
September 24, 2006
An interactive workshop on creativity and innovation, delivered to an audience at the Judge Business School during Cambridge University Alumni Weekend, September 2006.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Fast-track Strategic Modelling
The System Dynamics Society
July 29, 2004
Scenario planning is, arguably, the most powerful of the strategic planning methodologies, and system dynamics modelling is a wonderful way to simulate the dynamic behaviour of any scenario. Strategy planning models, however, are complex, and since each business is different, we are always starting from scratch. But is this necessary? Are there ways of making strategic modelling a much more generic process? In this workshop, run at the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, held at Keble College, Oxford in July 2004, I showed how to answer this last question "yes"...

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

Models are for Users to Use - not for Builders to Build
A conference so-sponsored by the Institute of Management Science, and the Association of European Operational Research Societies, held in Athens.
March 23, 1977
My very first conference presentation, way back in 1977... all about why modellers shouldn't fall in love with their models and the beauty of their modelling: the only measure of success is how well the user can use - and understand - the model, and get benefit from so doing. And thank you to Len Pace, of Deloitte Haskins & Sells, for encouraging me to submit an abstract!

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Tags: Innovation, Predictive Analytics, Risk Management

3 Visiting Lecturers
University of St Gallen, Switzerland
University of St Gallen
March 15, 2020
Visiting lecturer, 2000 - 2004, to run final year undergraduate 'integration seminar' programmes on both systems thinking, and creativity and innovation.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Risk Management

Regular contributor to Professor David Lane's programmes at, originally, the London School of Economics, and more recently, Henley Management School
London School of Economics and Henley Business School
February 10, 2020
Guest lectures of applications of systems thinking, from climate change to 'teachers behaving badly' (!).

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Tags: Climate Change, Innovation, Risk Management

Regular contributor to Professor Mike Kennedy's programmes, originally at London South Bank University, more recently at the University of Bedfordshire
London South Bank University and the University of Bedfordshire
January 30, 2012
Guest lectures on all aspects of systems thinking, from the basic principles to applications such as climate change, to the link between systems thinking and innovation.

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Tags: Climate Change, Innovation, Risk Management

Blog

2 Article/Blogs
Coronavirus - The Key Lesson
Thinkers360
March 30, 2020
A few days ago, we could cope. Today, we’re stretched. And in a few days, hospitals - and mortuaries - will be overwhelmed. Why didn’t we order tests, masks, ventilators, beds, a month ago? But a month ago, there were only 100 cases; a number that has doubled every 3 days, so today there are over 50,000… And a month ago, people were saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll be all right, there are only 100 cases”. So nothing was done, no action was taken.

When we’re dealing with a problem that progressively doubles in intensity, it’s very easy to miss the early signs – which are inevitably weak – only to be overwhelmed, by which time it’s too late.

And although we are all – understandably – focused on coronavirus, there is another existential threat showing the same doubling behaviour. Climate change. The impact of the virus is catastrophic. But the impact of climate change will be cataclysmic. Not only disease, but famine and war too, as cities are flooded, agricultural land made into desert.

The doubling of the rise in the Earth’s temperature takes place far more slowly than the doubling of the virus. So it’s much less dramatic, and much less noticed. And far easier to say, “Don’t worry, we’ll be all right, the temperature has only risen by 0.1 degrees”. Yes, so easy... and in 50 years’ time, those still alive will be asking, “Why didn’t they act back in the 2020s, when there was time to fix it?”.

That’s the lesson we must learn today. To fix the climate change crisis, we must act now. That’s now. And the action is not just to reduce emissions. That’s good, but not enough. The fundamental problem is that there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 that has accumulated over the decades, CO2 that is driving the temperature ever upwards. The action we need is a new Apollo- or Manhattan-style programme: a huge, co-ordinated, collaborative effort to develop as many ways as possible of taking that excess CO2 out. Now.

(See also

http://thedailybanter.com/2014/11/president-obama-needs-manhattan-project-heres/

https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-comment/2016/reducing-emissions-a-good-thing-but-not-the-right-thing

https://96d83266-a361-459e-ba7d-31f78a56327d.filesusr.com/ugd/7c5491_ac07094be50b433dae3bff83f493b34f.pdf )

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Tags: Predictive Analytics, Risk Management, Climate Change

Creativity's five most important words
Thinkers360
March 21, 2020
How might this be different?


That’s it. Creativity’s five most important words. And if you ask that question, you’ll never be stuck for an idea.

I could say that things are more complicated. But I won’t. Because they aren’t. And if you’re ever told, or ever read, that they are, well…

Let me explain. My first point is that to be creative, you have to throw something away. The quest for the new, the search for novelty.

That might strike you as really weird. Isn’t the very essence of creativity the discovery of the new?

No.

In being creative, you’re not seeking the new. You’re looking for difference.

Think about that for a moment. Imagine you’ve had a great idea, and you’re comparing the world-after-the-idea with the world-before-it. What’s important is not that the world-after is new; what’s important is that it is different – and hopefully better – than the world-before.

Searching for difference is easy, for ‘difference’ means ‘different from what’s there now’. And because what’s-there-now is real, before your very eyes, you can see it, touch it, feel if, hear it, describe it. So if you notice something about what’s-there-now, and then ask “how might this be different?”, you’re very likely to think of something that does indeed make it different - and bingo, that’s an idea.

An example. The game of chess. There are lots of features of chess that you can describe – the pieces, the board, the rules. One particular rule is that to win, a player must capture the opponent’s king - chess buffs call that ‘check mate’.

How might that be different?

There are lots of possibilities. So instead of capturing the opponent’s king, suppose winning is the capture of both the opponent’s two bishops? Or the first player to get three pieces to the row at the far side of the board? I’m sure you can think of plenty others…

That’s it. It really is that simple. Try it on a topic relevant to you. It works.

So always remember “How might this be different?”. Creativity’s five most important words.

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Tags: Design Thinking, Innovation, Open Innovation

Opportunities

2 Businesss
Solving tough complex problems

Location: UK and elsewhere    Date Available: March 22nd, 2020    Fees: By mutual agreement.

Submission Date: March 22nd, 2020    Service Type: Service Offered

And complex problems are indeed tough. But that can be tamed. By using 'systems thinking'. To explore how this can be done for real, please contact me.

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Turbo-charging NPD

Location: I'm UK based, and can travel w    Date Available: March 22nd, 2020    Fees: By mutual agreement

Submission Date: March 22nd, 2020    Service Type: Service Offered

Do you want to inject real energy into the discovery of great new products and services? If "yes", then contact me to discuss how - in literally just a few days - my Innovation!™ process can transform your NPD - and your business.

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Dennis Sherwood

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April 28