1st Edition

The Intelligent Nation How to Organise a Country

By John Beckford Copyright 2021
    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    184 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Intelligent Nation proposes a systemic and radical transformation of the organisation, management, ownership and performance of the services of the state by capitalising on the potential offered by contemporary information capability and fulfilling the rights and obligations both to and of citizens.

    In this book, John Beckford shows how, by adopting the principles of an Intelligent Organisation, the state can thrive and meet the needs of its citizens. He proposes a complete rethink of the state as the enabler or provider of public services. In particular, he points to the failure of the public sector to significantly emulate the massive gains in productivity and customer focus experienced in both manufacturing and services (e.g. finance, retailing, insurance). Governance and all public services must be redesigned to align to the contemporary needs of the citizen and exploit the power of information to enable a transformation of their effectiveness, redefine efficiency and support human-based services in crucial areas. Each chapter provides the key learning points, a discussion of the problem in theory and practice, integrated case studies, and discussion points.

    Written in an accessible style, the book provides thought-provoking supplemental reading for masters and undergraduate students reading organisation theory, organisation development, political science, public administration, healthcare, information systems and business and management science.


    Chapter 1: The Dysfunctional State and the State of the Problem

    Chapter 2: Sustainable and Resilient State

    Chapter 3: Sustainable and Resilient Citizen

    Chapter 4: Social Infrastructure and Services to the Public

    Chapter 5: Fundamental Infrastructure and Utilities

    Chapter 6: Understanding Performance, Serving Citizens Right


    John Beckford is a partner in Beckford Consulting, Non-Executive Chair of the Board of Rise Mutual CIC, a Non-Executive Director of Fusion21 (a social enterprise) and CoreHaus and Visiting Professor in both the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London and the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University.

    "In taking the wealth of conceptual insight and practical experience offered by The Intelligent Organisation and applying it to the challenge of national governance, Beckford takes on a formidable task. The result is a rewarding and thought-provoking synthesis of ideas spanning systems thinking, economics and political science which is interwoven with illustrative vignettes drawn from a wide range of practical spheres." - Dr Andrew Chilvers, Honorary Lecturer, Dept of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP), University College London


    "The events of 2020 and the uneven response of national states to the crises once again confirm that whatever form governance may take, it needs to be intelligent. Beckford makes an excellent case for treating any organization as a system within a dynamic environment. This book should be read by every local and national leader and its lessons should be applied broadly." - Professor Miguel Angel Centeno, Musgrave Professor of Sociology, Vice-Dean, Princeton School of International and Public Affairs, Princeton University


    "How we relate to and think about being governed has been turned on its head by Covid-19. The Intelligent Nation provides a very timely and relevant reflection on the role of government and its power to intervene in our basic freedoms. John Beckford challenges our centralised and controlled state in a time of crisis. The Intelligent Nation lays the keystone for a radical rethink on how we are governed and makes a good case for decentralising power. Excellent!" - Gill Morris, FCIPR, Chief Executive, DevoConnect


    "Warm, easy and yet very precise, this is a much-needed reflection on what a state can do, and how it can do it better. Recent crises like Covid-19, as well as ongoing crises, such as climate change or the long recovery from 2008, have shown up starkly how ill adapted states are to challenges of such complexity, or pervasiveness, or duration. This may be particularly so where the crises evolve slowly over time, rather than emerge suddenly. The failure of states to respond positively to the possibilities of the digital revolution has also been stark. Above all this is a coherent way of exploring how we can organise states better, making them more adaptive to the challenges of today, and more coherent in a digital age." - Ronan Palmer, Director, Clean Economy, E3G


    "The Intelligent Nation presents a provocative case for change, blending cybernetic insight with freedom by design. John Beckford incisively exposes the dysfunctional essence of modern state bureaucracies; ‘Transformation must not be stifled by self-preserving, self-interested, cautious, creeping incrementalism’. Building intelligent services around citizens is our collective challenge." - Richard Berry, Assistant Chief Constable, Gloucestershire Police


    "In this book, John Beckford has advanced the ideas articulated in his earlier seminal work on The Intelligent Organisation to a new level to advocate for The Intelligent Nation. With a bold sub-title of How to Organise a Country John draws on his cybernetic approach to analyse how in a post-Brexit and post-Covid-19 world, current governance forms and bodies are failing to manage the balance between freedom and control in such a way as to deliver the desired outcomes for citizens. With a more overtly political stance (in keeping with the shift in focus) than was evident in The Intelligent Organisation the argument highlights the need for Western governments to become more adaptive if they are not to lose their democratic legitimacy. In turn, citizens have a role to play in becoming more democratically engaged. The book is written in a persuasive and very readable style, with plenty of insightful illustrative case study vignettes. It should be required reading for anyone with responsibility for public services and infrastructure as well as more generally those with an interest in performance management." - Professor Louise Cooke, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University