What do I see as my purpose?
We need to devise a social contract for the 21st century, which acknowledges the limits of capitalism, reforms our institutions, reconnects with our people and strengthens liberal democracy. I believe that the professions can produce the skills and approaches needed to produce a values-focused collaboration that can make our societies more engaged and effective.
I am always looking to collaborate with like-minded professionals to improve opportunities for all in society. This is the underlying purpose of all my work. Effective use of communications is for me like a liberation theology, removing the shackles of ignorance, prejudice and needless misunderstanding, and giving us the opportunity to make sense of the world, liberate potential and make a positive difference.
The Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, healing the world, is a universal concept. We all have a stake in a more united yet not uniform world. Much of my motivation for collaborative resolution springs from a sense that the world is increasingly connected because of technological progress, but how much that is a force for good depends on us and the choices we make, and our willingness and skill in working with difference and diversity.
Why is effective communication so important?
Now in my fifth communications chief role, I champion strategic communications to help organisations achieve impact and influence, building communities of interest and high-performing teams.
When an organisation functions at its best, I see strategy, policy, tactics and operations all coming together. Effective communication oils the wheels of progress. It does a pretty good job as a way of responding to developments through issues and crisis management: it does an even better job framing or reframing the context in we operate. Most organisations now recognise the value of the former; too few the value of the latter.
Ideas can, and do, change the world. But only if they are appropriately communicated and taken up.
Communication at its best conditions the way we think about the world and act upon it. It can even make us feel better about it by taming the ego and giving us a more rounded and grounded view of reality, and our role in shaping it. The easiest way we give up power and influence is by thinking we do not have any.
People call me an optimist, but I am not: optimism implies a belief about the future, and I do not claim to know or predict that future. But I do see the benefits of being positive, whilst also being vigilant, both about opportunities and threats.
Good decisions are the right decisions reached in the right way. Modern leaders increasingly focus on changes in structure, business models, processes and technology. Acting strategically shows we mean business over time. But strategy is not enough on its own: it needs to be understood, adopted and lived. As Peter Drucker is alleged to have once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
There is no such thing as Groundhog Day in communications: every moment, every case, every organisation, every person is different. To think of a role as a repeat is to deny it life before we start. Life starts and ends in difference. Some champions of collaboration only focus on what different parties have in common. Focusing on common ground is undoubtedly necessary, but not sufficient for collaboration to be effective: we need to show awareness, if not appreciation, of difference.
We can share common values, and work better together if we seek to understand one another’s perspective, and specific set of needs, interests, concerns and expectations. Building such trust and rapport then open doors, and lights the flame of genuine collaboration.
Why is leadership so critical now?
Effective leadership in the 21st century is multi-dimensional. Dimensions important in my work with organisations include a single-minded focus on outcomes, adoption of a clear strategy with resources and processes to implement it, and a true commitment to working with -and through- others to achieve results.
I am a people person – ghastly phrase- to the extent that I believe people are the building blocks to any collaborative endeavour, and every link is important. But I am also attacted to deep ecology, the view that nature and the environment, and all livings things, are part of our custodianship of this planet.
I enjoy building the confidence and capability of teams across an organisation. That human capital far exceeds what other resources might be available.
Whether it is a profession, craft or a trade, effective communications in the right hands can build better understanding, tackle problems and find solutions through collaborative resolution, because we engage more deeply on the issues that matter to people.
Change inevitably means choosing, including choosing to let go and move on.
Why The Open University?
The Open University is a great innovation and invention, a national – if not global – asset: a top university that is innovative, inclusive and operates at scale. It puts value both on the individual and on what we can achieve together. It has inspired millions. It’s a great honour to be its Director of Communications.
What is my professional background?
After leaving Oxford having read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), I was a television journalist and senior executive for 17 years, first ITV, then 12 years with the BBC. I left the BBC as Head of Programming, International Channels, BBC Worldwide for a careers start-up dot.com. I then became the UK Government’s first Director of e-Communications. After being seconded to manage media operations during Foot-and-Mouth Disease in 2001, the UK’s biggest civil emergency since WW2, I was Director of Communications in three Whitehall departments: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what is now the Ministry of Justice, and Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
I wrote the first ever international report on cross-sector collaboration, published by the FCO in 2009, which gave birth to consultancy projects inside and outside government, including at NHS and Marie Curie Cancer Care.
After two years helping to set up and manage an international consultancy supporting government, business and civil society, I joined the OU. In my role, as well as providing leadership in communications, I contribute at all levels of the institution towards strategy, innovation and collaborative resolution.
Why this website?
These blogs span my recent career, and reflect my interest in leadership and management, government, business, civil society and media. At the heart of my research and reflections is a constant curiosity in the ebbs and flows of society, organisations and groups, and individual lives.
From what I have learnt in my career, every person is capable of making better sense of their world, and with the right direction and encouragement, can give their life even more meaning and purpose. Learning is the key to growth, and listening the key to learning.
What are my values?
We all have a degree of freedom: however much we have, we can use it wisely. If we willingly pull together, we achieve more.
I have a simple philosophy: the victory of ideals must be organised. Great leadership is about the combination of three elements: working with complexity, acting decisively and building broad-based support.
I plan, yet I also appreciate the emergent and unforeseen. No wonder I find Buddha’s advice helpful to keep everything in balance and in perspective:
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
Lucian J. Hudson
LJH developed the UK Government’s thinking and practice on the use of “soft power”:
FCO Departmental Report 2007-08, pages 96 to 99
The Enabling State: Collaborating for Success (FCO,2009)
LJH researched and wrote first-ever international report on what makes for effective collaboration and partnership, particularly between governments, business and NGOs, involving more than 100 organizations globally, including 20 governments, and 10 international institutions. Assignment included primary and secondary research as Visiting Researcher, British Library, participation in Said Business School and London Business School advanced negotiation courses, and time spent with senior managers and stakeholders at Shell International, Lloyds TSB Bank, Global Fund, European Commission and NATO, India, Turkey and Mexico governments, and international institutions in Geneva.
Others have since developed The Enabling State theme:
Carnegie Trust 2012-13
Some other publications to which LJH has contributed:
Corporate Social Responsibility: A Research Handbook
NEW BOOK: Social Partnerships and Responsible Business. A Research Handbook<http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415678636/
LJH’s blogs and articles:
LJH on Tavistock Institute of Human Relations:
LJH on Sir David Omand and security/liberty:
LJH on security/liberty debate that won’t go away:
LJH on justice:
LJH blog on Government communications, January 2014: