Jericho Conversations

Business Life After the Virus: The Imaginative State

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Seize the day; seize the moment; find our voices

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the final event in the current series of #JerichoConversations: The Imaginative State. Sorry if you missed it – you can catch-up here.

With special thanks to our contributors: John Thornhill, Innovation Editor, The Financial Times; Imandeep Kaur, co-founder of Civic Square, social activist and campaigner; Katy Taylor, Group Customer & Commercial Director, Go-Ahead Group; and Luke Pollard MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment.

It was another compelling conversation – a fitting finale to the current series. A number of themes re-emerged, consistent with earlier sessions: the fact we are all in the same crisis together, but our lived experiences are really not the same; the need to listen from the edge and not the centre; collaboration and empathy, de-centralisation and localism; the transformative role of technology – good and bad, big and small; and the agency of people, not just institutions or systems. Above all, if we continue to ask the wrong questions of the wrong people in the wrong way, we will inevitably end up in the wrong place. This is why we are at an inflection point – and why we need to seize the day, seize the moment and find our voices.

The pandemic has been a colossal
failure of institutions”

John Thornhill

John on where we are now and what needs to happen next

“The pandemic has been a colossal failure of institutions. We’ve had the PPE fiasco; the care home scandal; and then the contact tracing app. The institutions that we have are just not capable”

“Three things should happen now: a clear need to reprioritise investment; talk more about how to create new public goods (especially, using data and data governance more wisely). Create more agile and imaginative institutions”

“Think about Government as a public service. Focus on three areas:

  • Healthcare: using big data and AI to reimagine how healthcare should operate; with a publicly funded health system, we already have the basis we need.
  • Education: embrace different ways of teaching and close the digital divide across the nation; ensure that every child has access to the internet.
  • The Green Economy: how do we #BuildBackBetter and make state-funded support for companies contingent on greening?”

“Government must embrace Little Tech as well as Big Tech. There’s an incredible army of entrepreneurs out there. Don’t give it all to IBM or Accenture. Look to Estonia, Taiwan and Israel”

Immy on leadership and the power of community

“Our governance model isn’t just outdated. It was never fit for purpose”

“Dominance and extraction; Britain as a power lord. It’s not surprising we find ourselves where we are today. This is not a journey we should follow”

“Putting imaginative capability at the heart of our community is essential. We have much to learn from Wales and the Future Generations Act”

“People are really ready to imagine something different”

“Only honesty will fix trust in society”

Luke on localism

“We have an imaginative state, but it finds itself in local government … sadly, that’s unfashionable and under-funded. We have seen innovation flow from councillors and local authorities – but politicians in Westminster seem allergic to localism”

“The ability of the government to be allowed to fail has been stripped out. Innovation and imagination are wrapped in a fear of failure”

“A lack of diversity in Government is reflected in recent announcements: for example, too many jobs for blokes; few for women or BAME communities”

“We’re all in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat. The lived experiences of the people [I represent] is so varied – financially and socially. The aggregation of the solutions required needs to reflect these differences”

Katy on empathy

“Without empathy, we cannot have a proper sense of understanding, togetherness or community. It’s a cliché – but we have to learn how to walk in other people’s shoes”

“We can have Big Ideas and Big Government but it must all be delivered locally. Innovation works best when smaller ideas are implemented collectively. Great ideas don’t come from one place or one person; they come from different people being brought together and by pulling different levers”

“Some things must be allowed to fail in order for us to find the things that will work”

“The importance of “place” is huge. Where we live and spend our time is so important to our sense of self and our identities”

“If we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything”

If you would like to (re-)watch the webinar in full
you can do so here.

Doing Our Bit to #Build Back Better

Jericho Conversations is one of a number of initiatives that spontaneously emerged during lockdown – part of a determination to use this moment of crisis to pivot towards a better, fairer, more equitable and sustainable future for all.

Elsewhere, Jericho partner Neal Lawson – in his capacity as Executive Director of Compass – has brought together over 300 leaders and civil society organisations in a nascent coalition that will help maintain the Build Back Better momentum. A number of us have already signed the petition and we hope you can, too.


For those who missed earlier sessions, all Jericho Conversations to date are available on

We will be running a series of smaller, focused conversations on specific themes over the summer and hope to be back in September with a new programme to build on the story so far.

In the meantime, please get in touch if you have thoughts or ideas to share or would like to find out more about Jericho and/ or working with us to help build a better society.

Keep well. Stay safe. Take care.

Robert, Matthew, Becky, Becca, Roxi and Team Jericho
July 3 2020

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