The Spirit Level – Wilkinson and Pickett

A new book has been causing a bit of a stir in policy circles in the UK – ‘The Spirit Level’ is not another diatribe for or against God, as the name might suggest, but a book about equality.

The main message is fairly simple – affluent societies tend to suffer social ills like mental health problems, drug use, physical health, obesity, educational problems, teenage births, violence and crime in direction correlation to how equal or unequal they are. And people are unhappier too. Once you get above about $25,000 per capita GDP, the relationship between rising affluence and rising welfare disappears and is replaced by equality rather than affluence. Continue reading

The Art of Public Strategy – Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan’s new book on ‘The Art of Public Strategy’ is an riveting read, fizzing with insights and ideas.

Mulgan played a big role in the Blair government, as a policy adviser and Head of the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. He also has a strong history as a think-tanker and author, so his writing is full of insider anecdote, big ideas and shows a remarkably broad sweep. Having said all that is has several faults. Continue reading

‘Made to Stick’ – how to make your key messages memorable

This book looks at what makes ideas “stick” – why some ideas spread easily whilst others don’t.

Being able to communicate effectively has become increasingly important for public managers in democratic states. “A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theatre contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries lunch, and a steak dinner – combined!” Continue reading