Book News: September 15th, 2014

Behind the doom-laden headlines, a quiet revolution is taking place in the public sector. In the police… hospitals… local government… social welfare… costs have been significantly reduced, services have improved exponentially, and there is a real ‘danger’ of improving morale.

There is now no politician or executive in any branch of local government or any area of the public sector who can say: “It won’t work here”. The evidence is clear: it does work here, and right across the board.

It’s four years since John Seddon’s first assault on the regime of ‘choice’, targets, delivery, inspection, incentives, ‘free market’ reforms and back-office ‘economies of scale’ that was paralysing UK local authorities. Systems Thinking in the Public Sector explained how it was that so-called ‘performance improvement’ led to ambulances driving round in circles with ill people on board and benefits claimants having to complete the same form three times.

Two years later, in 2010, and in response to calls for evidence that Seddon’s Vanguard Method really did offer the kind of dramatic improvements that he claimed for it, a first collection of Case Studies showed Vanguard’s Systems Thinking approach at work in (mainly) housing and housing benefits departments.

Continuing where Volume 1 left off, this collection of Case Studies presents more evidence of the effectiveness of John Seddon’s Vanguard Method in practice.

Case studies in the first part of the book describe the application of the Vanguard Method across the public sector. Part 2 has three topical briefings on the vexed question of ‘demand’ and why it is that increasing resources to meet increasing demand is so often the wrong answer.

Richard Davis discusses hidden demand, the role of geography and the problem with treating people as ‘customers’.

John Seddon explains why mass production logic, where demand is treated first as a transaction, then as a commodity and then shared in an attempt to cut costs, is flawed.

Finally, Charlotte Pell illustrates, through stories from people on the receiving end of the services described in this book, why it is cheaper to deliver public services that work.

Published by Triarchy Press. ISBN: 978-1-908009-68-5 . £18.00