Charles Leadbeater – Setting the Post Bridget Jones Agenda

"At the core of a good society, a fulfilling life and an effective state are relationships among people, between citizens, with public services that provide care, recognition, purpose and motivation."  Charles Leadbeater

Charles Leadbeater has been tracking and chronicling creative responses to our social challenges for several decades.  He has a gift for weeding out fads, discerning what has staying power and penetrating to the heart of required public policy shifts.  Decision makers and activists rally to his ideas.

I first encountered his seminal essay, The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur, in the late 90's courtesy David Mitchell now CEO of Public Policy Forum.   Finally a piece that validated my experiences; exposed gaps in my thinking and provided an inspiring rationale for staying the course.  Suddenly I wasn't as lonely.  I've been following his work ever since.

Clearly many others have as well.  His TED talks are popular. See The Rise of the Passionate Amateur.   He advises Prime Ministers and government leaders. He is ranked as one of world's leading management consultants. He is a popular author – his most recent book is We-Think (download first 3 chapters) – his next is on radical innovations in education.  Charles was profiled by the New York Times in 2004 for generating one of the best ideas of the year, the rise of the activist amateur, outlined in his report The Pro-Am Revolution.

If I've whetted your appetite there is a webinar interview with him by David Eaves on September 19th that anyone can join.  And if you live in Toronto and Vancouver, SIG is sponsoring his public lectures in each city next week.  I'll be hosting both! Details below.

Leadbeater's monographs and public policy documents are extensive and easily available on his websiteMainstreaming Mavericks (a ten year update on The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur);  The State of Loneliness; Making it Personal; The Difference Dividend; Cloud Culture; The Future of Capitalism; Up the Down Escalator (an attack on the culture of public pessimism associated with globalization).  He is a longstanding senior research associate with the influential London think-tank Demos and a visiting fellow at Oxford University’s Said Business School

And for good measure when he was associate editor of the Independent he helped Helen Fielding devise Bridget Jones's diary originally meant to lampoon some of society's stranger obsessions. 

My favourite article by Charles is, With: Relationships and the Public Good. Download With 

With is part of a larger project For, With, By and To which proposes a shift from reliance on 'for' and 'to' solutions to those developed 'with' and 'by'.   These form the intellectual framework for a new style organization he has co-founded called Participle.  They are designing public services that make a real difference in everyday life.  They have become allies of disability, family, seniors and welfare reform advocates in the UK and elsewhere. Have a look at Particple's design principles and accompanying public policy shifts. They have set themselves the bold task of re imagining how we collectively take care of each other.

Making change goes much faster if you can converse with all the players in a complex system.  Charles does this as well as anyone.  I hope you get a chance to 'diarize' his ideas soon.

Event Information

To register for the Leadbeater/Eaves webinar Open Innovation: From the Cloud to Policy and Beyond on September 19th click here

September 19th public lecture in Toronto

September 22nd public lecture in Vancouver or call 604-439-9566

Related Posts

Passionate Amateurs – a Primary Source of Social Innovation

Neglected Sources of Innovation: Individuals and Families

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One Comment


    Thank you for this post, Al. Charlie is an important influence in my thinking as well. Geraldine Bedell, his partner, is a terrific writer and changemaker in the area of ageing. Check out her blog and her new project (a subset of Mumsnet),

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