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  • 15 minutes

Jake Chapman On Using Systems Thinking In Practice

Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021
Jake Chapman speaks with Prof. Simon Bell about what a systems approach means to him and touches on the subject of active listening.

Transcript (PDF document25.6 KB)

About Jake

Jake Chapman joined the OU in 1970 and became founding Director of Energy Research Group (1972-1978). As Professor of Energy Systems (1978 -2001) Jake became Head of the Systems Department (1987- 1994) and a major contributor to courses on applying systems theory to management and complex problem solving. He also played a major role at the OU in developing teaching materials to enable home-based students to use computers. Since 2001, Jake has had an illustrious career involving various appointments including Expert Advisor (Energy Review) for the Economic Development Committee at the national Assembly for Wales (2001-2003) Consultant to and Team Member of Performance and Innovation Unit projects, Cabinet Office, London (2001-2002), Associate of Demos, Think Tank based in London (2002 – 2012) – where Jake authored the highly influential System Failure: Why Governments Must Learn to Think Differently (2004) – as well as working with  Metropolitan Police: Modernisation Programme (2006- 2008), National School of Government (2006-2012),  Leadership centre for Local Government (2008-2009), and again Cabinet Office (2009-2010). Jake now leads a humble life as small holder on the edge of Exmoor.

Jake has also been a very successful business entrepreneur using his energy research skills.  Jake comments: “After Thatcher came to power in 1979 the funding for energy research dried up. So with a friend I started a business to give people advice on how to save energy in their home. ... The business was extremely successful and led lead me to develop the first energy rating for homes based on a computer program I wrote. This now provides the basis of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) required for all home sales and rentals. Recently the UK Government has made it compulsory for landlords to improve properties to an EPC of C or above, thereby resolving the split incentives involved in rental homes...The business made me a lot of money – which is how I could retire when I was 55.

“After that I promoted a different way of public policy making based on systems theory. I worked in the Cabinet Office on energy policy, I was the external member on the Metropolitan Police Modernisation Board and the principle tutor in the Top Management Programme -  a 6 week course that was a gateway for the very top civil servants. I have also worked for the Welsh Government, for a think tank called Demos and with people in the NHS.

“So I have experienced the worlds of academia, business and the civil service at the very highest levels. I have also had profound spiritual experiences that made me into a spiritual teacher for a period. I have worked on myself non-stop for the last 40 years and have understood most of what my unconscious is up to most of the time. Now I am a small-holder, which includes being a repair mechanic and builder. I grow all our vegetables and most of our fruit. We also keep chickens for eggs and meat... We have an amazing life with a very low carbon footprint (we have two electric vehicles powered by our solar systems).”



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