Archived News

Click below to see our archived News, the most recent stories are at the top of the page.

University of Buckingham
The Vanguard Method for People Centred Services


John Seddon speaks at University of Newcastle


The Whitehall Effect
The Vanguard Method in youth protection wins award


Jim Mather reviews The Whitehall Effect
Jim Mather reviews ‘The Whitehall Effect’


The Whitehall Effect
John Seddon’s best book yet: The Whitehall Effect


Vanguard and Locality: Saving money by doing the right thing
Report launch: Saving Money By Doing the Right Thing


Government Advisor backs Seddon's ideas
Government Advisor backs Seddon’s ideas


Kittens are Evil
Free summary of Kittens are Evil


back office
The back office: a train crash coming to a town near you


stoke kier logos2
Kier Stoke & Stoke-on-Trent City Council win prize


francis report logo
John Seddon on the Francis Report


Report Launch: Saving Money By Doing the Right Thing

Failure demand is the biggest cause of rising demand, not demographics, according to a new report, Saving money by doing the right thing: why ‘local by default’ must replace ‘diseconomies of scale’, published at a House of Lords launch on 12th March 2014. The study analysed hundreds of thousands of demands placed on the public and third sectors across multiple localities in the UK over the past three years.

Ministers, civil servants and public sector leaders learned that that more than £16bn of public money could be saved every year by tackling ‘failure demand’; unnecessary demand such as repeat assessments, multiple referrals, delayed discharge, unwanted equipment and unsuitable services, all demand caused by a failure of public services to understand people and provide them with what they need.

The study, published by Vanguard and Locality is the first of its kind to discriminate between artificial demand for public services, generated solely as a result of an organisation not taking the right action and real demand, experienced by the person who needs help.

“Everyone thinks the rise in demand for public services is caused by an ageing population and a rise in long term chronic conditions. But is there another explanation? We tend to think that the rise in demand is coming from new people, it is not, it’s the same people. Studies of hundreds of thousands of patient records, case notes and files reveal that the main cause of rising demand is the same people fighting the system to get what they need. Public services assess the same people up to a hundred times, refer them on multiple times, keep them in hospital when they shouldn’t be there and give them equipment they can’t use. All this unnecessary activity isn’t free. This finding marks a seminal moment in our understanding of demand for public services because it shows us exactly what to do. We should design services which are able to do the right thing for people in the first place”.
John Seddon, Vanguard Consulting

The report outlines the two main causes of failure demand, discovered empirically in the studies. The first is the prevailing belief held by the Treasury in ‘economies of scale’ and the second is the drive from procurement professionals and IT companies to standardise services.

This is the first major challenge to the widely held belief that economies will come from buying in bulk and reducing unit costs. The report argues that too many services prescribe standard packages of activity rather than understand what improves a life. This in turn causes huge amounts of failure demand and spiralling costs because people get what they are given, not what they need.

“We know how to reduce billions of pounds worth of unnecessary demand on public services; simply abandon scale in favour of designing localised services which are able to do the right thing for people in the first place. It is not public service which is at fault here. It is a system dominated by scale and standardisation. That is what needs to change” Steve Wyler, CEO Locality

John Seddon’s best book yet ‘The Whitehall Effect’

The Whitehall EffectIn The WHITEHALL Effect, John Seddon explains how successive governments have failed to deliver what our public services need and exposes the devastation that three decades of political fads, fashions and bad theory have caused. With specific examples and new evidence, he chronicles how the Whitehall ideas machine has failed on a monumental scale – and the impact that this has had on public sector workers and those of us who use public sector services.

The Whitehall Effect exposes a bureaucracy that is institutionally resistant to new ways of doing things, perpetuating a system that is both profligate and inefficient…Those who have listened to [John Seddon] have transformed the way things are done, cutting costs and waste while ensuring services are delivered effectively…”
Phillip Johnston, Daily Telegraph, 4th November 2014

“John Seddon’s forensic eye is sobering and brings clarity and some sense of empowerment for those like myself who believe passionately in delivering better services to the public”.
Lord Victor Adebowale CBE

Read the Foreword by Lord Victor Adebowale in full.

Read an edited extract from ‘The Whitehall Effect’ in the Guardian, 5th November 2014.

The hardback is available to order now from Triarchy press at £20.

Kindle editions

Available from


Available from


Available from Vanguard


Available from Triarchy Press