Saturday, 22 October 2022

That'll never work by Marc Randolph, the founder of Netflix - a few take aways

 That'll never work is the story of the birth of Netflix as told by its founder, Marc Randolph.

Amongst the anecdotes and reminiscences of the founding and early years of Netflix when it was a DVD-by-post company, there are some real insights:

  • Ideas and Start-ups
    • "The truth is that for every good idea, there are a thousand bad ones." p.5
    • Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari, "Everyone who has taken a shower has had an idea, but it is the people who get out of the shower, towel off and so something about it that make the difference." p.301
    • The key to initial success is to get a highly talented start-up team together.
    • Start ups are about OPM - Other People's Money

  • Culture
    • The importance of company culture. "Culture isn't what you say, it is what you do." p75
    • "People want to be treated like adults.  ....  What they want is freedom and responsibility. They want to be loosely coupled but tightly aligned." p.78
  • Codifying Culture - HR Issues
    • "Most companies end up building a system to protect themselves from people who lack judgement. Only that ends up frustrating the people who have it." p.189
    • Vision for the HR Department as "a proactive agent for culture" p.190
  • Self-Care: 
    • Importance of prioritising relationship with wife/ family even when work is really tough. p.87
  • Factors in Netflix's success
    • The importance of data analytics
    • The importance of testing. 
      • "Take your idea and set in on a collistion course with reality as soon as possible." p.32;  
      • "When it comes to ideas, it's more efficient to test ten bad ones than spend days trying to come up with something perfect." p.200
    • "A culture of freedom and responsibility coupled with radical honesty." p.189
    • The importance of focus"The Canada Principle":  Netflix could have gone into Canada at an early stage but didn't because the amount of work to do so could have been better used in focusing on developing the US market.
    • Randolph being willing to step back from being CEO to become President to allow Reed Hastings (major founding investor) to run the firm. pp.169-182
  • Meetings:
    • Jeff Bezos "two pizza meetings" - if it takes more than two pizzas to feed a group of people working on a problem, then you have hired too many people." p.143
  • Pitching
    • "In a pitch, perfection isn't always the goal, projection is. You don't have to have all the answers if you appear to be the sort of person to whom they'll eventually come." p.150
  • Belt-tightening:
    • "Companies are like boats: sometimes you have to put them in dry dock to remove the barnacles that have accreted on the hull, slowing down forward progress." p.246

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Turn the Ship Around! by L. David Marquet – Summary of key points:

Turn the Ship Around! is a leadership book based on the experience of Captain Marquet and his pioneering approach to running a US Navy submarine.

In it essence Marquet moved from the traditional top-down “Leader-Follower” model of leadership, to an empowered distributive “Leader-Leader” model.

Beyond the engaging narrative, the leadership take-aways can be categorised in three areas: control, competence and clarity


  • Marquet moved control to the senior leaders (officers), chiefs (middle leaders) and workers (the crew) – “Don’t move information to authority, move authority to the information.” (p.49) – “Identify decisions that are candidates for being pushed to the next lower level of the organisation.” (p.58)
  • Language:  
    • Shift from “Request permission to . . “/ “What should I do about . . . ?” 
    • to “I intend to . . .” / “I plan on . . .” / “I will . . .”  (p.82-3)
  • ‘The goal for the officers would be to give me a sufficiently complete report so that all I had to say was a simple approval . . .  it caused them to think at the next higher level.’(p.83)
  • ‘As the level of control is divested, it becomes more and more important that the team be aligned with the goal of the organization.’ (p.88)
  • You are responsible for your work
  • Mechanisms for control
    1. ‘Resist the urge to provide solutions.’ (p.92)
    2. ‘Eliminating top-down monitoring systems.’(p.97)
    3. ‘Specify goals not methods.’ (p.159)


  •  ‘We rejected the inevitability of mistakes and came up with a way to reduce them.’ (p.117) (c.f. ‘Black Box thinking’)
  • Mechanisms to strengthen technical competence:
    1. ‘Take deliberate action’ (p.122) - don’t just do things on auto.
    2. ‘We Learn (everywhere, all the time).’ (p.133)
    3. ‘Don’t brief, certify.’ (p.140) – people switch off in briefings, ‘set read-ahead or think-ahead assignments’ and use meetings to check that everyone is engaged and on the same page.
    4. ‘Continually and consistently repeat the message.’ (p.149)
    5. ‘Specify goals not methods.’ (p.159)


  • ‘As more decision-making authority is pushed down the chain of command, it becomes increasingly important that the organisation understands what the organisation is about.’ (p.161)
  • Mechanisms for clarity
    1. ‘Build trust and take care of your people.’ (p.172)
    2. ‘Use your legacy for inspiration.’ (p.176)
    3. ‘Use guiding principles for decision criteria.’ (p.182)
    4. Use immediate recognition to reinforce desired behaviours.’ (p.187)
    5. ‘Begin with the end in mind’ (p.193)
    6. ‘Encourage questioning over blind obedience.’ (p.200)
    7. ‘Think out loud.’ (p.106)
    8. ‘Specify goals not methods.’ (p.159) ‘by focusing on achieving excellence not avoiding errors.’

Other observations: 

·       On Inspection:  ‘ “inspection mentality” is a morale killer’ . . .  ‘If we were excellent and prepared, the drills and inspections would take care of themselves.’ (p.78-9)

·       On professional development: ‘We had no need of leadership development programs: the way we ran the ship was the leadership development program.’ (p.84)

·       On organisational aims: ‘focus on achieving excellence, not avoiding errors.’ (p.159)

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Work without Jobs by Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau - Summary of some key arguments

Work without Jobs - How to reboot your organisation's work operating system by Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau 

The central argument of Work without Jobs is that traditional 'jobs' should be 'deconstructed' into their underlying components, such as tasks and projects; with the complementary result that jobholders are seen in terms of their capabilities and skills.

This shift essentially would see the end to the 'job description'; and C.V.s would focus more on capabilities and skills, rather than experience in the form of educational milestones and previous job titles.

The approach 'requires fundamentally rethinking concepts like work, leadership, culture and organization' (p.ix)

"The new work operating system will require a profound change in the mindset and behaviour of leaders. It requires managers to think in terms of how tasks and projects are accomplished, not how jobs are organized." (p.100)

The authors employ the analogy of computer operating systems:

  • The old, traditional Operating System - categorises work into job and jobholders into worker through an employment relationship. It is characterised by job descriptions, job hierarchies and job qualifications.
  • The new Operating System - 'deconstructs jobs into their components and allows work to be perpetually reinvented by recombining those granular elements' (p.xi). It embraces a wider view of how work gets done embracing 'the gig economy' and 'alternative work arrangements' such as freelancers, contractors and volunteers (p.xii). 'The new world of work is one "beyond employment".' (p.xv)

Jesuthasan and Boudreau believe that this tradition OS 'is too cumbersome and ill-suited to the future.' (p.xi) and 'work systems (e.g planning, sourcing, choosing, assigning developing, engaging, rewarding) must evolve to reflect this new language of work'.

The authors propose that organisations break down their deparmental silos and develop internal platforms that allow talent to flow to work (such as projects) - effecting creating the opportunity for work to be done by anyone skilled to do it, be they brought in from outside the organisation (external gigs) or within the organisation ("inside gigs").

"The key is optimally and perpetually reinvent work by combining options such as the following: (

  1. Talent in fixed roles with regular full-time employees.
  2. Talent who flows to tasks and assignments - perhaps because their enabling capabilities are required in short-term specific burst by several different work processes (e.g. a freelancer or project-basd data scientist who moves between projects in marketing, HR and operations as needed.)
  3. Talent who are in hybrid roles that are partially fixed because of work volume or skills dedicated to a job, but who can flow to specific challenges as needed (such roles often emerge from internal talent marketplaces where regular jobholders take on additional project work).

Impact of Automation

Jesuthasan and Boudreau acknowledge that automation has a significant part to play in the future of work. Their approach is summarised by the following four principles:
  1. Start with the work (i.e. deconstructed current and future tasks) - not with existing jobs;
  2. Combine humans and automation (not replacing one with the other);
  3. Consider the full array of human work engagements (e.g. employment, gig, freelance, alliances, projects, other alternative work arrangements);
  4. Consider allowing talent to flow to work (this might be facilitated by an internal or external platform).
Tasks need to be evaluated according to the skill level that is required - basic repetitive tasks should be autotmated; "below license " tasks that cannot be automated should an unskilled, gig or trainee worker where possible; leaving highly skilled workers to focus on "top of license" tasks. (p.139)

Implications for education (pp.127-33)

Jesuthasan and Boudreau touch briefly on the implications for education, whilst acknowledging that a full discussion of the implications on education is beyond the scope of the book.  The new Work OS "means shifiting from a focus on worker education as degrees to focus on deconstructed learning and capabilities." (p.127)

The authors advocate a much more flexible approach to learning, arguing for "stackable credentials" ("part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time and move an individual along a careerpath or up a career ladder.") See 'More students are stacking credentials en route to a degree' Wired June 2, 2020.

Drawing on the work of Evelyn Glanzglass of the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, they highlight that the following challenges need to be overcome for this to happen (p.130-32):

  1. Create a common langue for workplace and educational credentials;
  2. Develop a common system of the transfer (portability) and value of credentials between institutions;
  3. Bridge silos between and within educational institutions;
  4. Overcome the disconnect between credit and noncredit course offerings;
  5. Provide financial aid for deconstructed credentials, not only degrees;
  6. Optimize and integrate the mix of learning in traditional classrooms, online, and experience.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

A new model for talent management in schools

This presentation was given virtually at the COBIS Leadership Conference on Sunday 8th May 2022. It offers a new model for talent management in schools, which reflects the changing world of careers having shifted from 'jobs for life' to 'portfolio careers'. The presentation proposes a 'tour of duty' model of mutually beneficial short term commitments between schools and individuals. 


Saturday, 26 February 2022

The Future of Teaching and Learning, Assessment and Qualifications

A presentation given at the FOBISIA Leadership conference on Saturday 26th February 2022.

This session sets up a debate about two areas: the future of teaching and learning; and the future of assessments and qualifications and micro qualifications. 

We were already on a journey from the physical to the digital before Covid-19 and that the pandemic has accelerated the rate of change. 

The current model for T&L is unsustainable and that we need to explore new models that will ultimately be determined by price point. 

Qualifications are going to shift from high stakes to on demand micro qualifications.


Tuesday, 15 February 2022

A Sense of Belonging at Work - Lee Waller: Summary of Key Arguments

The main thesis of A Sense of Belonging at Work by Lee Waller, Professor of Occupational Psychology at Hult International Business School, is that a sense of belonging at work improves employee wellbeing and performance.

The book has a simple, logical structure: the first part explores what it means to belong before moving onto what organisations can do to establish a sense of belonging.

Part One: What it means to Belong

Professor Waller draws on humanist (Maslow), social and evolutionary psychologists to establish that 'belonging is a fundamental human need' that has evolved to support our survival.

Her research has identified the three factors which undermine belonging in the workplace (Chapter 2):

  1. An absence of quality relationships: "not being able to connect with people in the workplace on a personal level also means that we do not have the opportunity to be open about how we are feeling, to share our emotional experience, and feel validated, understood and cared for, which are cornerstones of intimate interactions and quality relationships." (p.25)
  2. A sense of not being value: "feeling we are making a difference, adding value, are respected, and recognised for our work is an important component of a sense of belonging in the workplace." (p.27)
  3. A lack of commonality or shared characteristics with those with whom we work i.e. being different in some way: ethnicity, sexuality, gender, identity, disability, cognitive make up, educational/socio-economic background, 
"Organisational practices, structures and cultures can have a significant influence on whether a sense of not belonging is fostered, developed and maintained." (p.31)

The impact of not-belonging on wellbeing (Chapter 3):
  1. Belonging and a sense of self: not-belonging can undermine our sense of self - "They think therefore I am." (p.38)
  2. Self-efficacy (the belief that we can be successful in future tasks), Competence and Self Belief: not-belonging can elicit feelings that we are not good enough or do not add value.
  3. Self-esteem: the purpose of self-esteem is to make us aware that our inclusion is under threat. "In my research, the impact of self-esteem was core to the significance and negative impact of a sense of not-belonging." (p.39)
  4. Coherent sense of self: cognitive dissonance - "a sense of not-belonging impacts our ability to be ourselves at work." (p.43)
  5. Mood and Emotion: "a sense of not-belonging at work also has a bit impact on our emotional and mental well-being" (p.44)
Belonging and performance - the trap of not belonging (Chapter 4):
  1. Trap One: Ability to be ourselves:
    • Social Monitoring - heightened sensitivity to feedback from others; danger of over-thinking
    • Conformity - Hewlin's "Facades of Conformity". Danger of organisation of "group think", but also on a personal level of cognitive dissonance and the shame of authenticity.
  2. Trap Two: Self-protection: not-belonging can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy. "self-protection strategies play out in withdrawal, detachment, avoidance and, at times, disruptive behaviour." (p.52).
"The culture of the organisation has a critical role to play in both fostering a sense of belonging and in determining the strategies employees might engage in to cope with it." (p.55)

"our ability as leaders to ensure the members of our teams have a sense of belonging is crucial to ensuring their performance" (p.58) 

Part Two: Establishing a sense of belonging

Caveat: Not all work environments are conducive to making connections (remote working etc.) and we set ourselves professional rules and boundaries that separate the personal from the professional.

Developing Quality Relationships (Chapter 5)
  1. Establishing relationships: 
    • find commonalities, take opportunities to get to know and be known by colleagues
  2. Making relationships meaningful:
    • Knowing others: 
      • we need to understand more about our colleagues than superficial facts: what are their underlying motives and intentions?
      • Enquiry: Ask open questions to understand, rather than to just gain information.
      • Presence: be fully present
      • Active listening: Empathetic Listening - Remember what people say and follow up.
      • Trust: 7-38-55 communication model (7% the words. 38% the tone, 55% body language)
    • Knowing you
      • Be you: Γνώθι Σεαυτόν Be your true and authentic self.
      • Be human "being open about vulnerabilities not only has an enormously powerful and liberating effect on us and others, but it helps us to connect - helps us to see each other as similarly vulnerable human beings." (p.76)
Establishing and adding our value (Chapter 6)
  1. Identifying strengths: 
    • “We all have our own unique blend of experience, genetics, intellect, education and personality. . . . No one else can offer exactly what we do.” (p.78)
    • Get to know your team
    • Positive and strengths-based perspective to developing self-awareness - see
  2. Leveraging strengths:
    • Task crafting - involves changing the function of the role
    • Relationship crafting - involves reshaping and reforming the social interactions we have with others.
    • Cognitive crafting - involves changing the way we think about our work.
    • Autonomy is key - "autonomy signals that they are considered as a trusted, competent and valued members of the team" (p.84)
  3. Developing strengths:
    • Feedback: 
      • both positive and negative needs to be delivered in the moment, when it can have impact.
      • BOFF Model: Behaviour (example of behaviour observed) - Outcome (What was the outcome/ impact of the behaviour) - Feeling (how does the behaviour make you feel?) - Future (How can they develop more acceptable behaviour in the future?)
    • Coaching
      • asking questions, not providing answers. "If we coach our employees, we not only support their development, but we empower them to be able to solve future challenges themselves, to apply the process of learning to other situations." (p.87)
      • Whitmore's GROW model: Goal (of the coaching conversation) - Reality (awareness of the present situation) - Options (finding and exploring alternative solutions) - Will (what will they do and their commitment to undertake those actions).
Diversity and Belonging (Chapter 7)
  1. The many forms of diversity
  2. Evidence of the continued existence of prejudice, discrimination and bias
  3. Reasons for the continuation of racial inequality
    • Structural and Systemic
    • Unconscious bias
      • "Micro-aggressions are defined as verbal, behavioural or environmental indignities that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative affronts or insults to an individual or a group."
      • "Micro-inequities are small and subtle events or behaviours that systematically unfairly treat individuals or groups who are perceived to be different, leaving them feeling 'othered', different and excluded."
    • Ignorance of the real lived experience of BIPOC
  4. Addressing Discrimination in our work places
    • Developing diverse intelligence
    • Developing self-awareness
    • Becoming an ally.
Fostering psychological safety (Chapter 8)
  1. What is psychological safety?
    • "Psychological safety is about the ability to speak frankly, with honesty and candour without disagreements, conflicts or concerns, it is not about being polite." (p.107)
    • Teams connect at a human level - "They share their vulnerabilities, their concerns, voice their differences an support each other with empathy and compassion."
  2. Fostering psychological safety
    • Leader characteristics
      • authenticity
      • humility: leaders talk openly about vulnerabilities and failures
    • Interpersonal skills
      • presence, active listening, focused attention and empathy
    • Permission to care
      • focus on how the team experience the workplace - whether they feel valued, trusted, cared for, included and supported.
    • Tolerance of failure
      • A tolerant approach to failure can be communicated by 
        • the vulnerability and humility we model as leaders;
        • the language we use when we talk about failures.
    • Addressing the unspoken - create a speak up culture - uncover the stinky fish.
Being an inclusive leader (Chapter 9)
  1. What is an inclusive leader? 
    • Inclusive leaders have "the courage to take conscious steps to break down barriers for people at risk of being excluded from society." 
    • "Inclusive leaders embody a leadership approach that appreciates diversity, invites and welcomes everyone's individual contribution, and encourages full engagement with the processes of decision-making and shaping reality." (p.116)
  2. An inclusive mindset
    • an open and curious mind
    • self-awareness, humility and vulnerability - authentic self
    • insight into cultural dynamics, tensions and misunderstandings
  3. Inclusive behaviours
    • Collaboration
      • Integrative Thinking (Oliver and Holscher) - "Innovating involves the integration of different perspectives to arrive at something new - the power of 1 + 1 = 3." (p.119)
      • Inclusive Conversations: "require the interpersonal skills of attention, active listening, open questions, trust, and rapport" - i.e. psychological safety. Reflection on the quality of the conversations.
  4. Courage and Commitment
    • Challenging others: (discriminatory behaviour, unhelpful ways of communicating, disrespectful ways of interacting).
    • Challenging the system: systemic institutionalised practices
    • Challenging ourselves: self-awareness and humility
Reframing a sense of belonging (Chapter 10)
"Man is troubled, not by events, but by the meaning he gives to them." (Epictetus)
  1. What sense of not-belonging means for us.
    • Disconnect between the objective, rational perspective and own personal narrative
  2. Unconscious Cognitions
    • Self-Conscious Affect Theory
      • guilt - negative interpretation of our behaviour. encourage productive behaviours because we believe behaviours are unstable (liable to change), controllable (something we can change) and situation specific.
      • shame -  negative interpretation of the self: we believe behaviours are stable, uncontrollable and global. Therefore fight/ flight/ freeze often avoid/ hide/ withdraw. Shame results in anti-social behaviours.
  3. Challenging our inner critic
    • Inner critics can manifest as ubiquitous, perpetual, negative self-perceptions and frequent ANTS (automatic. negative thoughts)
    • "Becoming aware of our own negative thoughts when, where and why they occur is the first critical step of taming our inner critic." (p.129)
  4. Step One: awareness and acceptance
    • Brown's Shame Resilience Theory:
      • Recognising Shame and understanding our triggers
      • Practising Critical Awareness
      • Reaching out and Telling our Story
      • Speaking Shame
    • Curiosity and self-compassion: "accepting that negative, distorted thoughts are a natural human experience."
  5. Step Two: challenge
    • Lee's five steps to challenging and ultimately modifying negative thoughts:
      • Examining: identifying the evidence both for and against the thought
      • Exploring: what the thought means to us
      • Exposing: the bias/ distortion/ assumptions on which the thought is based
      • Expanding: our perspective by considering alternative believes and propositions.
      • Experimenting: with different ways of thinking.
    • Socratic Questioning:
  6. Step Three: reframe: create an alternative appraisal of the situation that stimulated the negative thought. "The aim here is not to silence or switch off our inner critic, but to develop an alternative, positive narrative to counter it." (p.133)
    • Distancing Approach:
      • Given the situation, what advice would we give to a friend or loved one, what alternative believe or interpretation might we use?
    • Thought Records - force breaking down the thought process.
      • Belief - Alternate Belief
      • Evidence for Belief - Evidence for Alternate Belief
      • Emotion for Belief - Emotion for Alternate Belief
      • Action for Belief - Action for Alternate Belief

Monday, 27 December 2021

Merchants of War and Peace - by Song-Chuan Chen - Summary of Arguments

Song-Chuan Chen's Merchants of War and Peace is a fine piece of historical research which explores the origin of the arguments that ultimately would be used in lobbying the Whig Government and would persuade Palmerston to send the military force that launched the First Opium War (1839-42).

Chen's thesis is that the pro- and anti- war arguments originated in the Merchant communities in the 'factories' of Canton. The 'Warlike' party (which included James Matheson and William Jardine) worked out their arguments in the Canton Register; these were opposed by the 'Pacific' party whose mouthpiece was the Canton Press. 

According to Chen, the case for war distilled down to an argument for free trade: namely that the Qing dynasty's policy of giving Canton a monopoly on external trade was protectionist, and that the only way that this was likely to change was by the British military imposing change by force. 

An important aspect of this argument was the development of a narrative that China was isolationist, which stood in stark contrast to the traditional view of China (originally propagated by Jesuits during the Ming Dynasty - 1368-1644) was that China was a 'peaceable' nation. The Warlike party were able to draw on the failed Macartney (1793) and Amherst (1816) embassies to the Qing court as evidence that China was anti-commercial and insular. Shifting public opinion from viewing China as 'Peaceable' to being 'Isolationist' was key to the Warlike narrative - and its impact has carried into the C21.

Other arguments which focused on the lack of respect for the British were secondary (e.g., whether or not the Chinese term yi should be translated as 'foreigner' or 'barbarian'; or whether Chinese officials disrespected Britain by turning their back on the portrait of the King, or by rejecting British officials). 

Chen argues that one important factor to the ultimate success of the warlike party was that the Canton merchants had up-to-date detailed knowledge of China, including being able to make a detailed evaluation of its military capability.

Chen points out that the approach of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to foreigners was driven by internal politics: namely that the Manchu rulers feared that foreigners would side with the Han majority in a civil war. Their foreign policy was to put in place 'soft borders' to distance foreigners and thus to protect their position. The use of the term yi  was part of this distancing; as was the establishment of 'five rules' of the 'Canton system' which outlined the rigorous conditions for foreign merchants in 1757 (See pp.46-47). 

Chen draws attention to the role that the Canton merchants played in negotiating this monopoly, which reduced the number of foreign trading ports from four (Canton, Amoy, Ningbo and Shanghai) to one (Canton).

"From the Imperial perspective, the Canton system assuaged the political security fears of the Manchurian and Chinese ruling classes and, at the same time, allowed them to extract profits from the Canton maritime trade." (p.159)

On the other hand, the Pacific Party adopted a laissez-faire approach, believing in the power of commerce and that China had the right to conduct is own policy as it wished and that the British who traded in Canton should submit to the rules of the Chinese (p.34-5).

Chen's research traces how these arguments that were circulating in Canton became the key arguments in the lobbying of the British Whig Government throughout the 1830s. He cross-references the cases made in the Canton Register with the arguments that subsequently were used in the English press and in pamphlets published. Chen echoes other scholars in arguing that the tide of opinion in Parliament and wider British society began to shift in the second half the decade culminating in Palmerston's decision in 1839. 

Chen rejects the arguments of  Glenn Malancon (Britain's China Policy and the Opium Crisis 2003) that Palmerston reached the war decision on his own prior to meeting Jardine on 27th September 1839, arguing that Jardine played a key role in supplying "military intelligence, war strategy and the demands for treaty negotiation" (p.120). The correlation of the battle plan, the subsequent terms of the Treaty of Nanking and that the cabinet took the war decision just three days after the Jardine-Palmerston meeting, for Chen are too coincidental for Jardine not to have be instrumental in getting Parmerston over the line.

Chen's final analysis is that the conflict that arose in the 1830s in Canton was fundamentally the battle between the old 'profit order' by which the 'Canton system' looked after the interests of the Qing ruling dynasty, the Chinese high officials and the Canton merchants; and a new 'profit order' which looked after the interests of the the British - both Government and merchants (traders and English manufacturers). For Chen, the ultimate reason for the  Opium War came down to money:

"Profit order was central to the Chinese-British encounter in Canton, which during the hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century was arguably the most dynamic wealth-creating port in the maritime trading world." (p.159)

Note: This is not a great starting point if you want a general book on the Opium War. It is is an excellent piece of historical research, engaging with primary source material, but it is not for anyone new to this period of history.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Samantha Steed Facebook Live Talk on Early Years

 Samantha Steed talking about Early Years on Facebook Live for Kellett School in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Independent School Medallists at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics 2020 (Summer 2021)

Independent Schools continue to make a significant (disproportionate) contribution to British Sport - this is something that we should celebrate. 

The final statistics:

  • 53 women won medals for TeamGB (4 won 2 medals), 20 of whom were educated in independent schools (38%)
  • 55 men won medals for TeamGB (6 won 2 medals, 2 won 3 medals and 1 won 4 medals), 17 of whom were educated in independent schools (25%)
  • Overall, 108 competitors won medals for TeamGB, 37 of whom were educated at UK Independent schools (34%)
(school data not available for Equestrian Eventing Team)

Congratulations to the following former pupils of Independent Schools who won medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo:

Team GB Gold Medals 

  • Cycling
    • Katie Archibald (Glasgow Academy) Madison
  • Diving 
    • Tom Daley (Plymouth College) Synchronised 10m Platform 
  • Modern Pentathlon
    • Kate French (Cobham Hall) Individual
    • Joe Choong (Whitgift) Individual
  • Sailing
    • Hannah Mills (Howell's Llanduff) 470
    • Eilidh McIntyre (Mayville High School Southsea) 470
  • Swimming 
    • Freya Anderson (Ellesmere College) 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay 
    • Calum Jarvis (Plymouth College) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 4x200m Freestyle Relay 
  • Triathlon 
    • Jonathan Brownlee (Bradford Grammar) Mixed Triathlon Relay 

Team GB Silver Medals 

  • Cycling
    • Katie Archibald (Glasgow Academy) Team Pursuit
  • Rowing 
    • Harry Leask (George Heriots) Quadruple Sculls 
    • Harry Leask (RGS Guildford) Quadruple Sculls 
  • Sailing 
    • Anna Burnet (Lomond) 
  • Swimming 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 200m Freestyle 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 200m Individual Medley 
    • Duncan Scott (Strathallan) 4x100m Medley Relay 
    • James Guy (Millfield) 4x100m Medley Relay 

Team GB Bronze Medals 

  • Athletics
    • Imani-Lara Lansiquot (Trinity Croydon) 4x100m Relay
    • Josh Kerr (George Watsons) 1500m
  • Diving 
    • Tom Daley (Plymouth College) 10m Platform 
  • Equestrian 
    • Karl Hester (Elizabeth College, Guernsey) Team Dressage 
  • Gymnastics
    • Amelie Morgan (Wolsey Hall, Oxford) Artistic Team
  • Hockey
    • Grace Balsdon (Kent College)
    • Maddie Hinch (King's, Taunton) 
    • Sarah Jones (Howells Llanduff)
    • Shona McCallin (Repton)
    • Hannah Martin (Ipswich School)
    • Lily Owsley (Clifton College) 
    • Izzy Petter (Cranleigh)
    • Ellie Ryer (Claire's Court)
    • Anna Toman (St Gabriel's Newbury)
    • Susannah Townsend (Sutton Valence)
    • Leah Wilkinson (Repton)
  • Shooting 
    • Matthew Coward-Holley (Felsted) Trap Shooting 
  • Rowing 
    • Thomas George (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • Charles Elwes (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • Oliver Wynne-Griffith (Radley) Men's Eight 
    • James Rudkin (Stowe) Men's Eight 
    • Thomas Ford (Grange School) Men's Eight 
    • Henry Fieldman (Latymer Upper) Men's Eight 
  • Sailing 
    • Emma Wilson (Bournemouth Collegiate) RS:X Windsurfing 

Medallists competing for other nations who were educated at UK Independent Schools: 

Gold Medals 

  • Triathlon 
    • Flora Duffy - Bermuda (Mount Kelly - then Kelly College) 

Bronze Medals 

  • Swimming 
    • Frederico Burdisso - Italy (Mount Kelly) 200m Butterfly 
    • Frederico Burdisso - Italy (Mount Kelly) 4x100m Medley Relay 

Medallists at the Paralympic Games who were educated at UK Independent Schools: 

Gold Medals 

  • Rowing
    • Oli Stanhope - GB (Hampton) PR3 Mixed 4+
  • Swimming 
    • Ellen Keane - Ireland (Mount Kelly) SB8 100m Breaststroke
    • Hannah Russell - GB (Mount Kelly) S12 100m Backstroke
  • Triathlon
    • Lauren Steadman - GB (Mount Kelly- then Kelly College) PTS5 Individual

Silver Medals 

  • Athletics
    • Kare Adenegan - GB (Bablake and King Henry VIII School) T34 100m
  • Wheelchair Fencing
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Team Foil
    • Oliver Lam-Watson - GB (Dulwich College) - Team Foil 

Bronze Medals 

  • Wheelchair Fencing
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Individual Épée
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Individual Foil
    • Dimitri Coutya - GB (St Benedict's) - Team Épée
    • Oliver Lam-Watson - GB (Dulwich College) - Team Épée
  • Swimming 
    • Toni Shaw - GB (Albyn School) 400m Freestyle S9 
  • Triathlon 
    • Claire Cashmore - GB (Mount Kelly- then Kelly College) PTS5 Individual 
Please contact me if you spot any errors or omissions. Many thanks 

Related posts 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

The Bomber Mafia - Malcom Gladwell: Brief Summary

The Bomber Mafia is a book about two approaches to a problem. The problem in question was 'What is the best way to end WWII by bombing?' The context was the last year of the war and the target was Japan.

Malcolm Gladwell narrates the story of two US Air Force Generals: Brigadier General Haywood Hansell and Major General Curtis LeMay both of whom, at different times, were in command of the Twenty-First Bomber Command stationed on a cluster of small islands, the Marianas, in the middle of the Western Pacific (Guam, Saipan and Tinian). The significance of these islands was that they were (just) in range for a B29 bomber to run a raid to Tokyo and other significant Japanese industrial cities.

The first General, Hansell, was a devotee of the 'The Bomber Mafia', a group within the Air Force command who believed that air power alone could win a war. They believed that the precision bombing of key strategic pinchpoints could bring the enemy to his knees (and thus to surrender). without committing thousands of troops on the ground. In the 1930s this concept was quite and ran contrary to the prevailing US military thinking which, given that it had been the case in nearly every war to date, saw ground troops as essential to military success. Furthermore, they believed that, unlike blitz bombing, precision bombing would also minimise non-combatant casualties - thus there was a moral dimension to this view. At the heart of Hansell and the Bomber Mafia's belief was that they placed enormous faith in the 'Norden Bombsight' which, they claimed could enable an airborne bombardier to drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from six miles up. Sadly this faith was misplaced and Hansell's B29 bombers never managed to effect high level precision bombing of key Japanese instillations.

For this reason he was replaced by General Curtis LeMay, who approached the problem of bombing to end the war with a more open mind. After a brief attempt at following his predecessor's approach, he switched to a totally different strategy: low level blanket bombing of cities with napalm. The results were devastating. May's first raid on Tokyo on March 9th 1945 lasted 3 hours, dropped 1,665 tons of napalm, destroyed 16 square miles of the city killing about 100,000 people.

"Probably more persons lost their lives by fire at Tokyo in a six hour period than at any other time in the history of man." US Strategic Bombing Survey

Further bombing raids on other cities followed with similar results.

 The irony here is that the US WWII narrative focuses on how President Truman agonised over the dropping of the two atomic bombs, but much less consideration is given to the 'on-the-ground' action of LeMay to blanket bomb significantly larger urban populations.

Hansell was a man of principle, but the fact is that he didn't get the job done.

LeMay was a pragmatist who believed that his actions would bring an early end to the war. This proved to be true. His extensive bombing campaign and the dropping of the atomic bombs brought about a Japanese surrender, preventing a costly invasion, probable partition of Japan, and enabled food supplies to be flown in saving millions of Japanese from starvation.

However, viewed from the perspective of 2021, LeMay's approach to bombing and ending wars has had its day. Today, targetted precision bombing is the norm - Hansell's dream has been realised.

Curtis LeMay won the battle. Haywood Hansell won the war.