what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, January 15, 2018

a reading list for the Davos set

The annual Davos festschmalz comes this year with a book bag - consisting of reading recommended by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckenberg.  This includes fairly predictable, mainstream stuff – eg Harari’s “Sapiens” and Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. 
Such lists make, of course, the (rather heroic) assumption that the Davos CEOs are inclined to read books – and an interesting challenge would be to come up with some titles which might persuade such privileged people to see the world a bit differently - and perhaps change their thinking? 
I suspect, for example, that participants might just allow their guard to fall for books written by people who know they are dying – eg the paean to social democracy penned by Tony Judt just before his death - Ill Fares the Land. And there were also these eloquent final thoughts of a seasoned campaigner found on his laptop after his death

So here’s my New Year challenge to readers - what short and thoughtful books might we recommend to challenge the smugness of the Davos set?

As it happens I have just collated last year’s blogposts which try to give a sense of how writers from the 1970s onwards have been dealing with what is now recognised as a systemic crisis in our economic order. Our Future – an annotated reading list identifies 250 books. Even more importantly, I make an effort to classify the books…..using a variant of the 6 distinctive “worlds” or “dimensions” developed by the Commons Transition people
·         political (democracy and the Commons)
·         economic (or Financial) 
·         work 
·         consumption/“4th Dimension”
·         conscience
·         citizens

Take the first dimension - as representative democracy has eroded in recent decades, direct democracy has attracted increasing attention – eg referenda, citizens’ juries, participatory budgeting or random selection of electoral positions. There is no obvious name to offer – although John Keane’s huge book on The Life and Death of Democracy is one of the best resources. Paul Hirst advanced the idea of “associative democracy” until his sad death in 2003. This drew on the thinking of figures such as GDH Cole…

But the very word "democracy" will put most Chief Execs off - they feel much more comfortable in the the management field where some gems an be found - eg Danah Zohar’s Spiritual Capital – wealth we can live by (2004) is an interesting critique of capitalism with a rather too superficial approach to its amelioration. The Ethical Economy – rebuilding value after the crisis by A Arvidsson and N Peitersen (2013) covers the ground better – it’s summarized here and critiqued here.
Henry Mintzberg is a well-regarded management guru who has been warning of business excesses for a couple of decades and produced in 2014 the highly readable Rebalancing Society – radical renewal beyond left, right and center.which is ideal for Chief Execs. 
Peter Barnes is a very fair-minded entrepreneur sensitive to the evils of unregulated capitalism whose Capitalism 3.0 (2006) is persuasive.
David Erdal's Beyond the Corporation (2011) is the inspiring story of an entrepreneur who passed his business to the workers..

They might also be persuaded to open some pages which bear a religious imprint eg a fascinating and totally neglected book is Questions of Business Life by Richard Higginson (2002) ananalysis of various critiques produced by a cleric from his work at an ecumenical centre for business people….
And then there is  Laudato-Si – the Papal Encyclical (2015). A summary is available here. Its entire 184 pages can be read here

Some outriders which I would strongly recommend are - 

The Lugano Report: On Preserving Capitalism in the Twenty-first Century” – Susan George (1999). A satirical piece which forces us to think where present forces are taking us…. 

Danny Dorling’s hugely underrated Injustice (2011) identified 5 “social evils” – elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair – and explores the myths which sustain them. The argument is that we are all guilty of these evils and of sustaining these myths......
More recently he produced "A Better Politics" - a great and persuasive read

Friday, January 12, 2018

"Development" Voices

From Poverty to Power is one of the most interesting blogs around – and, believe me, there are not many which can persuade these arthritic old fingers to do the clicking! (The Brexit Blog is one of the exceptions which also delights in its clarity of thought and expression…..)
“From Poverty to Power” is a remarkable blog which reduces “development” issues to easily comprehensible narratives - and which succeeds in drawing down helpful comments and, indeed, assistance from its global audience.

One of its latest posts – on the “ten top thinkers on development” – has attracted some ire from colleagues who objected to its gender imbalance. My own objections were rather different - 
“It’s rather misleading to title this post the “ten top development thinkers”, I huffed …and continued  “Fifty Key Development Thinkers (2006) captures some of the important names –not least AO Hirschmann and Robert Chambers who made a much bigger contribution to thinking than some of the names on this “top ten” list - which clearly bears a rather old-fashioned economistic stamp (by the way only 3 of those 50 thinkers were women).
I then recommended two particular books which cast a contrarian eye on the development inductry - Sachs' (Wolfgang) The Development Dictionary (2010) and Deconstructing Development Buzzwords (2010) I’m actually in the world of “institutional” development and working, since 1991, in central Europe and central Asia. “Development” has always been a loaded term and, indeed, politically incorrect from 1990 – despite the scale of EU Structural funding (tens of billions of euros).

Last autumn I did a series of posts about the academic literature on public management and made a point which I rarely see recognized – that writing on the subject has a "Continental" bias, with most of the dominant writing being anglo-saxon (whose influence strongly extends to central european academia). I’ve just uploaded a little book Reforming the State” on this subject, arguing that the “modernisation” effort here could benefit from some of the insights from the “development” field

Just before I had uploaded that (slightly self-serving) post, another reader had made this excellent point -  "The kind of thing that gets you noticed for such a list might be:
1. Come up with a big idea about development, preferably slightly controversial or counter-intuitive
2. Explain how if the idea was taken more seriously it could end poverty or at least change the development paradigm
3. Selectively collect evidence and anecdotes that support the theme of the book
4. Spin out a simple idea to be a full length book
5. Aggressively promote the idea and be prepared to “battle it out” with other leading thinkers to prove who has the best take in order to promote your idea and book
Maybe this is something men are more inclined towards on average than women. Mot seriously, there are lots of other thinkers, women and men who have done important work on advancing development thinking and practice – but they might not have gotten the same level of visibility or notoriety as those on this list". 

 Some decades ago I wrote a short book to try to demystify the way a new local government system worked. That made me realise how few books were in fact written to help public understanding!
Most books are written to make a profit or an academic reputation. The first requires you to take a few simple and generally well-known ideas but parcel them in a new way – the second to choose a very tiny area of experience and write about it in a very complicated way.

After that experience, I realised how true is the saying that “If you want to understand a subject, write a book about it”!! Failing that, at least an article – this will certainly help you identify the gaps in your knowledge – and give you the specific questions which then make sure you get the most out of your reading.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The 2017 posts

Since 2009 I have blogged consistently – on average 2-3 posts a week. But the last 10 weeks have seen only one post. Somehow, inspiration seems to have dried up. For someone whose very identity has, for almost 50 years, been tied up with the act of writing, this is a very serious matter……
I’m not the only blogger whose energies have been fading recently – other writers have drawn attention to an apparent decline. This may or may not be linked with the deep sense of pessimism which has gripped my generation at least in recent years…..

With an effort, I have done a final bit of editing to the collected 2017 posts (all 76 of them) which bears the title Common Endeavour? – the 2017 posts (2018) and runs to 183 pages
The introduction reminds us all of the benefits of blogging and there is a special bonus in the annex in the form of a sceptic’s glossary of about 100 key words used in political and administrative discourse. The year is best summarized as follows -

Blog traffic has been increasing here – hitting 10,000 in April for the first time (a 3-fold increase since last year) and, in May, the 200,000 mark for the entire period since 2010. August saw another 10,000 hits….although it dropped thereafter, reflecting what I understand to be a general drop in readership of blogs this year,,,,And, in the final ten weeks, some disenchantment with blogging
     - Native English speakers account for only one third of readers (most from the US) – with Russian and Ukraine readers coming in (in the past year) at a strong 15% share. It’s not idle speculation to feel that part of this latter interest may be a reflection of official Russian oversights of western blogs and accounts – although I don’t get any comments on posts from that source - perhaps because it’s not been my policy to comment on Russian politics and Putin’s intentions? But why the strong interest from Ukrainian readers? After all, recent posts have, if anything been even more “reflective” than usual, trying to put recent events in a fifty-year timescale…..  
·       -  Readers in France, Germany, Bulgaria and Romania account for some 20% in total of the traffic – the latter two for obvious reasons. I’ve blogged quite a bit on Germany (indeed put a little E-book up on the list at the top-right corner of the blog) and am pleased to find readers from that source – and from France.

A new Feature
With two thirds of my readers not having English as their first language, I have perhaps become more conscious of the need for an inviting intro to posts which now try to “position” the subject in the wider commentary……So a new feature is the “Further Reading” resource with which book notes in particular now end… 

Early posts couldn’t help touching on the first shocking weeks of bully boy Trump’s occupation of the White House but, thereafter, ignored the idiot. Political misbehaviour in Romania caused more of a public backlash there and was duly the subject of a few posts.

For several weeks from mid-March, I ran a series of posts which started with an observation about   how badly served we are by the hundreds of economics books which jostle for our attention. The opening post suggested some tests we might apply to screen books out – with the drawback that we actually need the book in our hands to make the call! Follow-up posts used some diagrams……which also help guide the reader through the maze of books……
More than 100 key books were identified, briefly explained - and hyperlinked. And will all be useful in the task which lies ahead – of severe editing of the present draft of Dispatches to the post-capitalist generation

This May post shows the encouragement I now take from the increasing respect being shown to the concept of “The Commons”

June saw the British electorate join the US electorate in bloodying the nose of pundits and the Establishment…but, in the event, also giving progressives back a little bit of hope…….  Hence a couple of posts on social democracy….

Mid-Summer saw various posts connected with discussions I was having with a young Bulgarian journalist about an interview (which appeared at the end of August) which raised difficult questions about progress here in Bulgaria and Romania since 1991 and the curious silence of the past decade about the subject of “transitology” which so consumed the chattering classes in the 90s. The issues about political and institutional behavior which were first raised in the 50s by Edward Banfield; and then in the early 90s by Robert Putnam; remain.

But the most important series of posts started in September with “Close Encounters with bureaucracy” as I tried yet again to make some sort of sense of the efforts I’ve been making for nigh on 50 years to make state bodies more responsive to citizens….I started as a newly-elected young radical, working with community activists to help make their voice heard by a traditional municipality in the West of Scotland; graduated fairly quickly to positions of authority – not least for 16 years shaping the social strategy for Europe’s largest regional authority. All the time working as a public management academic in a local Polytechnic – and writing profusely and being published in UK journals, 

That was the base from which I sprang in 1990 to reinvent myself as a consultant in institution-building in central Europe and Central Asia – and keeping up with the academic outpourings on public management…..For 25 years I have worked in almost a dozen countries on these issues.
In recent years I have been trying to make sense of all this experience - which culminated last spring with a draft of almost 200 pages bearing the title Crafting Effective Public Management. The book's core consisted of (i) surveys of the literature of admin reform 1975-2000; (ii) my critical assessment of the approach and tools used by international bodies and consultants in the challenge of institutional development in "transition countries"; and (iii) my blogposts on admin reform ....

Early last summer, however, I realised that I had missed some of the more profound learning experiences - the new draft therefore has a very different format and content which still requires further work. Its sections are chronological and try to do justice to the shape and significance of the various projects. It also includes my sceptic's glossary; and the recent series of posts which used a dozen questions to try to capture the best writing on public management. As a result, it's currently heading for the 300 page mark!
Its present title No Man's Land reflects the reminder which the summer interview gave me of the importance of the feeling of "being on the margin" I've always had.....  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

intellectual shamans

Words have suddenly become sterile for me…..significantly, perhaps, after a series of posts about the writing on public administration…..and an earlier series this year on the global crisis.
Strangely, contemplation of such complexities doesn’t seem to bring either understanding or resolution - but rather a world-weariness….Activism is more exciting – but its closed focus, lack of cooperation and proper links to the world of rational analysis are but several deficiencies which always seems to bring it down.
Are we therefore forced to choose between technocratic rationality on the one hand… and strident activism on the other?

What other ways are there to pass the “autumn of one’s days”??? Music? Family and Friendship? Wine?
I had imagined that composing an open (and extended) letter to my daughters with reflections about the understandings I feel I’ve developed since 2000 might have wider interest…..simply because I consider myself a typical baby-boomer - if one with wider inter-disciplinary and nomadic experiences than normal…..Hence the draft Dispatches to the post-capitalist generation.  I had always regretted that my father (and a couple of other father figures) had not left me with such reflections……
But the present draft is no more than a pseudo-intellectual’s reading notes….a modern commonplace book. It doesn’t move the soul….

The one “issue” that has tempted me into a post this past month has been the ongoing Brexit saga in Britain (Ireland and Gibraltar) but that very fact reminds me of a quotation from a great book Breakdown of Nations;by Leopold Kohr which I read some years back - 
the chief blessing of a small-state system is ...its gift of a freedom which hardly ever registers if it is pronounced.....freedom from issues....ninety percent of our intellectual miseries are due to the fact that almost everything in our life has become an ism, an issue... our life’s efforts seem to be committed exclusively to the task of discovering where we stand in some battle raging about some abstract issue...The blessing of a small state returns us from the misty sombreness of an existence in which we are nothing but ghostly shadows of meaningless issues to the reality which we can only find in our neighbours and neighbourhoods

I hope still to write soon about Brexit – since it is something currently devouring and destroying a nation I once belonged to……

But if I cannot, at the moment, easily write or read about “issues”, I find that I can still devour material about individuals……and was very taken this morning with a book about 28 people who clearly had “made a difference” ….eg to someone who had the grace to write about the contribution she felt these people had made not only to her own profession but to the world - Intellectual Shamans – management academics making a difference; by Sandra Waddock (2015). Such books – which profile key figures in intellectual disciplines – are quite rare but always worthwhile (available also, to my knowledge, for political scientists; development economists; and sociologists).

I know only 4 of the 28 figures included in the book - Henry Mintzberg, Robert Quinn, Ed Schein and Otto Scharmer - but all seem to have this “inner light” which allows them to inspire an alternative vision. More excerpts from the book are available here
I came across the book thanks to a post by the author in this month’s Great Transition Initiative (GTI) . Waddock’s article on “large systems change” is also well worth a read…..It's one of many articles you can read in the interesting Journal of Corporate Citizenship - most of whose content can be accessed freely.

It may not be an emotional response we need these days but it is certainly something more than ratiocination - more on the spiritual/humanistic dimension?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Words and metaphors

Thanks to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, I found myself this morning enjoying the company of dead men… specifically George Orwell and Andre Gide.
Her website is a superb personal endeavour which offers extended excerpts from classic texts about the writing and creativity process – and also striking illustrations. In all the noise and hubbub that passes for civilisation, her site is a haven of tranquillity.

I don’t know why the novels of Andre Gide (1869-1951) appealed to me when I first read them (in French) in the 1960s. He certainly lived life to the full and was well-travelled - and must have written clear, taut French to make an appeal to me in the original. He was a great diarist and, reading, for the first time this morning, the volume of his journals starting (in Turkey) in 1914 made a powerful impression on me.

George Orwell is an even older friend whose Politics and the English Language ranks with the best of Shakespeare in its humanism and wisdom. The article lists the most prevalent of the “bad habits” responsible for what he argued (in 1946) was the “mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence” poisoning the English language: 
- Dying metaphors: A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically “dead” (e.g., iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.
Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgels for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, Achilles’ heel, swan song, hotbed.  
Verbal false limbs: These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry.
Characteristic phrases are: render inoperative, militate against, prove unacceptable, make contact with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs.
 Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purposes verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de-formations, and banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation.
Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, the fact that, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved from anti-climax by such refunding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, etc. 
Pretentious diction: Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual basic, primary, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up simple statements and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.
Adjectives like epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid processes of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying war usually takes on anarchaic color, its characteristic words being: realm, throne, chariot, trident, sword, shield, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, status quo, gleichschaltung, Weltanschauung, are used to give an air of culture and elegance.
 Except for the useful abbreviations i.e., e.g. and etc., there is no real need for any of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in English. Bad writers, and especially scientific, political and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, clandestine, subaqueous and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon opposite numbers.
The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, lackeys, flunkey, mad dog. White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words and phrases translated from Russian, German or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use a Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the -ize formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentatory) than to think up the English words that will cover one’s meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness. 
Meaningless words: In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly even expected to do so by the reader. When one critic writes, “The outstanding feature of Mr. X’s work is its living quality,” while another writes, “The immediately striking thing about Mr. X’s work is its peculiar deadness,” the reader accepts this as a simple difference of opinion.
If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living, he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The word fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another.

Orwell’s most important point, however, is a vivid testament to what modern psychology now knows about metaphorical thinking. By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash … it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking.
Orwell concludes with a practical checklist of strategies for avoiding such mindless momentum of thought and the stale writing it produces: 
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
What am I trying to say?
What words will express it?
What image or idiom will make it clearer?
Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready made phrases come crowding in. They will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even yourself.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Self-Management - an idea whose time has come?

The language of these books and articles about public management is utterly soul-destroying! The series of posts I’ve just done required me to pull out and flick through more than a hundred books in my libraries (real and virtual) - and I had assumed that the next stage would be some selective, in-depth reading – to extract some nuggets.
But the baroque language and dead imagery of the books – even the best of them - have my eyes (and very soul) glazing over.

So I turned instead to a book whose title and sub-title rather put me off - Reinventing Organisations – a guide to creating organisations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness (2014) by one Frederic Laloux whom you can see in action here.
In fact it was just what my jaded soul needed – highly readable and with many inspiring stories.

You can read the book for yourself here – but you can get the gist in the summary given in the hyperlink in the title above; and some good slides here
The book starts well with a strong critique of the alienating nature of so much work in large organisations and a question about why it has so be so, It then suggests that our collective history is not unlike that of our own personal growth, with key points of our development when we became more aware of our relationships with others….Laloux leans apparently for his approach on what is known as “integral theory” - associated with someone called Ken Wilbur.  The book suggests that organisations, until now, can be classified into four types - Red, Amber, Orange and Green – with the guiding metaphors for these types (p 36 of the book) being “wolf pack”, “army”, “machine” and “family”. Reminds me of the four “Gods of management” of Charles Handy and Roger Harrison – who are, however, not credited,
The core of the book consists of his attempt to find organisations which had broken out of the limits of this typology and were giving both customers and staff satisfaction. Twelve organisations are identified and their history structure and processes detailed. They are both profit and non-profit but have one basic feature in common – they are all managed by the workforce with senior executives (such as are left in a streamlined structure) playing essentially a coaching role…..The most famous of these is probably the Dutch nursing cooperative Buurtzorg

There’s a lot of thought-provoking material in the book which, after an initial splash 3 years ago, has not been much heard of – despite it being the first management book or a long time to focus on worker control (in a  totally non-ideological way). Perhaps he offended too many people? First the theorists – for attributing so little to them. And, secondly, the ideologues – who would have preferred some slogans…..

A good time, however, for the Labour party to issue this report (in June) on Alternative Models of Ownership – basically about coops, social enterprise and worker-controlled organisations,
I mentioned a few posts back that even the last UK Coalition government was supporting mutual structures for public services – although I haven’t yet seen a report on the subsequent experience.

critical comment on Laloux book

sympathetic comment

main website

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Plain text; and the 21st Century Public Manager

Readers will have noticed my growing impatience with the academic output about public services in the past 30-40 years. About the only writer I exempted was Chris Pollitt whose The Essential Public Manager (2003) is, by far and away, the best book to help the intelligent citizen make sense of this field. It’s friendly; brings in individuals to play roles illustrating contemporary debates; clearly summarises different schools of thought on the key issues; and leaves the reader with guidance for further reading….
Most authors in this field, however, are writing for other academics (to impress them), for students (to give them copy for passing exams); or for potential customers in senior government positions (to persuade them to offer contracts) – they are never writing for citizens. As a result, they develop some very bad habits in writing – which is why this new book should be in their family’s Xmas stocking this year. It offers priceless advice, including -   
1." Bait the hook“ When you go fishing, you bait the hook with what the fish likes, not with what you like.” An obvious principle, easily lost sight of. Putting yourself in the audience’s shoes governs everything from the shape of your argument to the choice of vocabulary. Ask what they do and don’t know about the subject, and what they need to; not what you know about it.
Ask what they are likely to find funny, rather than what you do. What are the shared references that will bring them on board? Where do you need to pitch your language? How much attention are they likely to be paying?
This is what Aristotle, talking about rhetoric, called ethos, or the question of how your audience sees you. And the best way for them to see you is either as one of them, or someone on their side. As the speech theorist Kenneth Burke wrote – another line I never tire of quoting – “You persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, identifying your ways with his.” 
2. Be clear A lot of style guides, with good reason, tell their readers to write Plain English. There’s even a Plain English Campaign that does its nut, year-round and vocationally, about examples of baffling officialese, pompous lawyer-speak and soul-shrivelling business jargon.Plain English (the simplest word that does the job; straightforward sentences; nice active verbs etc) is far from the only style you should have at your command. But if you depart from it, you should have a reason, be it aesthetic or professional.
The plainer the language, the easier the reader finds it; and the easier the reader finds it, the more likely they’ll take in what you’re saying and continue reading. Surveys of the average reading age of British adults routinely put it between nine and 13. Trim your style accordingly. Steven Pinker talks about “classic style” (he borrows the notion from the literary critics Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner). This, as he sees it, is a variation on Plain English that compliments the reader’s intelligence and talks to him or her as an equal.
He gives a cute example. “The early bird gets the worm” is plain style, he says. “The second mouse gets the cheese” is classic. I half-buy the distinction; though much of what Pinker credits to the classic style is exactly what’s asked of any good instance of the plain. And the examples he offers convey quite different thoughts, and (a bit unfairly) attribute a cliche to the plain style and a good joke to the classic. 
3. Prefer right-branching sentences Standard-issue sentences, in English, have subject-verb-object order: dog (subject) bites (verb) man (object). There are any number of elaborations on this, but the spine of your sentence, no matter how many limbs it grows, consists of those three things.
If you have a huge series of modifying clauses before you reach the subject of the sentence, the reader’s brain is working harder; likewise, if you have a vast parenthesis between subject and verb or even verb and object. The reader’s brain has registered the subject (dog) and it is waiting for a verb so it can make sense of the sentence. Meanwhile, you’re distracting it by cramming ever more material into its working memory. “My dog, which I got last week because I’ve always wanted a dog and I heard from Fred – you know, Fred who works in the chip shop and had that injury last year three days after coming home from his holidays – that he was getting rid of his because his hours had changed and he couldn’t walk it as much as it wanted (very thoughtful, is Fred), bit me ...” 
4. Read it aloud Reading something aloud is a good way of stress-testing it: you’ll notice very abruptly if your sentences are tangled up: that overfilling-the-working-memory thing can be heard in your voice. The American speechwriter Peggy Noonan advises that once you have a draft, “Stand up and speak it aloud. Where you falter, alter.”

I was about to write to Chris Pollitt to encourage him to produce a new edition of his book (which is 14 years old) but, magically, came across The Twenty First Century Public Manager - – a rare book which, like Pollitt’s, looks at the complex world facing an individual public manager these days and the skills and outlook they need to help it survive.

Which took me in turn to The Twenty First Century Public Servant - a short report which came out in 2014……and reminded me of a book which has been lying on my shelves for all too long – Public Value – theory and practice ed John Benington and Mark Moore (2011) which is put in context by a very useful article Appraising public value 
In fact, the concept of “public value” was first produced by Moore in 1995 in Creating Public Value – strategic management in government. This celebrated the role of strategic leaders in the public sector and tried to explore how, in a climate which required strong verification of performance, the public sector might be able better to demonstrate its legitimacy…. Here is how one british agency understood the challenge in 2007 and a short summary of the debate there has been about the concept. As you can imagine there’s at least one dissertation on the subject….. ’

I can’t say I’m greatly convinced that all the “sound and fury” has produced anything all that substantial…but, if I can keep my eyes open long enough, I will go back to the 2011 book by Benington and Moore (which does include chapters by interesting characters such as Colin Crouch and Gerry Stoker) and let my readers know…..