In the early 1980s, a developmental psychologist (Howard Gardner) described 9 types of intelligence: these included how we relate to the world (eg spacial, interpersonal, musical) as well as how we might be thought of as ‘performing’ in the world (linguistic, mathematical etc)

Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in the 90s re-energized all those who had always harboured doubts that an IQ test had that much to do with predicting a fulfilled, happy and productive life. It was now perfectly OK to talk about self-awareness and social-awareness skills.  Teams, organisations, businesses began at last to look past old ‘master and commander’ models of leadership.

Or did they?

Technology has sped along: now we can wire up our brains, see what’s going on … and be amazed.  It is social intelligence that is now viewed as most powerful – the human power to connect, belong, influence and be influenced.

The AI community has researched social intelligence (Professor Alan Winfield UWE Bristol) amongst robots, in the spirit of better understanding human behaviour.
The discovery? A ‘culture’ emerges over time amongst a group of ‘basic’ robots, where ‘basic’ includes the ability to imitate.

As a behaviour is imitated, and imitated again, a culture specific to that group emerges.
Simply being with each other and … mimic-ing… generates a cultural change.

Type ‘Leadership’ into Amazon today and about 178,000 titles appear, titles bristling with master and commander language.  An incredible body of expert advice for any individual who wishes to be a great leader, and to effect change, is right there.

But the social intelligence findings suggest a much simpler way.

Think less ‘leader’, more ‘community’. Try working alongside each other, observing, learning, and encouraging inspirational behaviours to be imitated and incorporated.

The culture will change.



ou don’t see the word ‘Luddite’ for weeks on end and then suddenly it’s everywhere….prompted because, startlingly, it appeared in a speech by The Bank of England’s Chief Economist at the Trades Union Congress last week. And to double the startlement, he asked – ‘Did those Luddites have a point after all?’

In my line of business, anyone suggesting that exponential technological advance may not be completely wonderful for life and work as we know it is about as popular as a wasp in a lift.   It’s really Artificial Intelligence that we’re frightened of, isn’t it? AI computes itself right to the top of that technology anxiety list.

Mr Haldane was not only sharing this anxiety, but also predicting with some confidence that robots would be replacing many, many, more of us at work in the future than we might have feared.

(‘Lessons of the Luddites‘ in the Guardian and ‘Were the Luddites right?‘ from the BBC)

So, did the Luddites have a point?

And will robots replace us?

We could reclaim and reframe the word Luddite.

Luddites were concerned about the nature and abuse of technological advance rather than advance itself. Luddite thinking might actually be quite radical.

You see, a few weeks ago, a Law Professor at Washington University, Ryan Carlo, planted an ineradicable image in our minds. His view is that evolution equips humans to respond to any scenario with a level of sophisticated emotional intelligence that no robot can ever, ever, ever manage.

His example?
Free Clown Hugs’.

Doesn’t that sound scarey? No sentient human being would ever think that a clown offering free hugs was an OK and desirable thing. (We can’t explain ‘why’ completely rationally, can we?)

Yet an artificial processor will simply see something good 3 times over – ‘free’, ‘a clown’, ‘a hug’.

An Innovative Luddite can see the future without fear.

It’s not the number of robots that matters. Bring them on.
It’s not technological advance. Hurrah for that.

It’s any exclusion or suppression of emotional intelligence, any reduction in instinct and humanity, as currency within the workplace that matters.   We must constantly revalue what we are, and what we can be, when we are at work. Radical.

The radical Luddite simply strives to make and keep work as human as it can possibly be.


Penny writes on the Management of Change and has published two books:

Support your Team through Change book by Penny Hunt     Managing Resistance to Change book by Penny Hunt


On a hot day in 2010 I wandered into the new Apple Store in Covent Garden a whisker before closing time. I still don’t know exactly why, but I found I had a mischievous desire to prove someone, anyone, wrong. The setting was so beautiful, so self consciously groovy, so perfect; the interest and publicity had been so impressive and adulatory. Grrr.

Light was still glinting off the English oak and York stone as a young man with both appearance and manners of great beauty approached. The blue of the Apple T shirt suited him perfectly.  “Good evening m’am, may I help you this evening?

I pulled my Blackberry out of my pocket and exhibited it.

Apple products in Penny Hunt's blog
I’m not sure…

He smiled, magic-ed his own Blackberry into the air, and explained

Oh we like to make sure we use everything. Don’t worry. I’m sure we can help”.

And so it began, a lesson in how to think differently that I have never forgotten. (A lesson brought to mind today by a radio programme featuring one of the greatest thinkers in the development of Artificial Intelligence, Maggie Boden)

The beautiful Apple man invited me to sit down at one of the beautiful trestle tables, positioned alongside three beautiful Apple devices, and to talk about how I used my then current (not beautiful) laptop.

Pastries drawn b y Penny Hunt

The experience was how I imagine it would be ..sitting at the pastry table in a café nearby while the pastry chef listens patiently and attentively to how I toast old sliced bread. But pastries are completed, finished. What the Apple man would introduce was the idea of potential.

He gestured to one of the devices and summarised how it would fulfill all the needs I had described. The second device was positioned as the next step, a way of completing those functions in an easier, more satisfying way, to free time to do other more interesting things.

And the third, I asked? Realising now that we were echoing the structure of oh, so many fairytales. “Oh that’s where it all really starts. You see you cannot know what you will do with that until you have begun to explore. It will make things possible that you haven’t even imagined yet.

My immediate take away lesson from that day was simple: to make a point of using new tools, to try out new equipment, for the simplest of tasks, just to see what would happen. (Well, if Lucien Freud can do what he did by changing the width of his paintbrush…). The deeper lesson, found in the area of Artificial Intelligence, is that the study of computational processes helps us understand more about the psychological processes involved in ‘creativity’. Is creativity magic? If not, there will be scientific explanations.

Chess with Penny Hunt

What sorts of creativity are there?  Maggie Boden virtually invented ‘computational creativity’, and was the perfect storm of talents so to do, having studied medicine, philosophy and psychology. Her view is that 95% of creative processes are either combinatorial – putting together unlikely ideas to form a new one – or exploratory – using an existing way of thinking but applying new structures.

The other 5% ? Transformational – where rules are dropped or altered and infinite possibilities then become possible. Rather like a new algorithm generating new options.

It leaves me with an important question. Does sitting at the café pastry table and eating them all count as transformational, or combinatorial creativity do you think?