About the Author

Jake Chapman is a well known advocate of using systems thinking as a way of making progress on ‘wicked’ social problems. This web site documents part of a project to apply systems thinking to drug policy in the UK. The full systems analysis can be read in the Demos Report Being Real on Drugs which can be downloaded for free here. Jake has experience of using systems approaches in addressing issues involving deprived estates, including youth nuisance and anti-social behaviour. He has also worked with a number of police forces.

This is actually the third report by Jake relating to drug policy. The first Connecting the Dots explains what constitutes a ‘wicked’ issue and why addressing them is so difficult. It is available for free at the Demos web-site; just click on the title above. This includes a brief analysis of heroin use in the UK. The second report, Taking Drugs Seriously, was carried out in collaboration with the UK Drugs Policy Commission and includes a report of the systems workshops undertaken as part of that project. It was focused on the issues associated with ‘legal highs’ and recommended a different approach to regulation.

Jake was an academic all his professional life, initially at Cambridge and from 1970 onwards at the Open University(OU). He was trained as a physicist and as a result of engaging with energy policy whilst at the OU was appointed Professor of Energy and Systems in 1978, a position he held until he retired in 2001. He then worked in the Performance and Innovation Unit in the Cabinet Office contributing to The Energy Review and later gave technical advice to the Economic Development Committee in the Welsh Assembly.

In 2002 he wrote a bestselling pamphlet System Failure as a result of which he was asked to teach public sector leaders how to make use of systems thinking. He did this through the National School of Government’s flagship course The Top Management Programme, through the Local Government Centre for Leadership and through the Metropolitan Police’s Leadership Academy. He also undertook a number of systems projects with the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit and Manchester City Council and served as the external member of the Metropolitan Police’s Modernisation Board for two years.

As part of his work with energy policy Jake developed a way of assessing the energy performance of dwellings that earned him a Royal Society Gold Medal in 1995 and now forms the basis of the Energy Performance Certificates required for all dwellings when they are sold or let. In 1983 Jake started and ran a business, National Energy Services Ltd, to promote energy efficiency and develop the energy performance assessment process. In 1998 he retired from being MD and remained a Director until it was sold to the Kingfisher Group in 2011.

Jake has also been a teacher of a western form of Zen since 1983. He regards his meditation practice as an integral aspect of his systems practice. He is married with four children and currently lives on the edge of Exmoor where he has a 6 acre garden in which he grows most of the fruit and vegetables he and his wife eat. There are also five barns, two with large solar PV arrays, a wind turbine, and an electric car.