Progressive Leader’s Summit – Australia

Vanguard Australia goes from strength to strength. Working with a Superannuation provider led to a record month for the client’s funds under management. They now operate with zero backlogs – which in turn meant they were able to close their year-end books on the year-end date (which was previously unheard of), and the amazing quality of service led to more advisors joining them. If that’s not gobsmacking enough they have changed their approach to IT by embedding IT developers in the front line, building IT on the principles of understand, improve, pull and, as a result, they no longer need project managers or business analysts. And lastly, in testament to developing an effective service design, they have decommissioned their workflow system. Now they know ‘workflow’ as a misnomer.

Similarly, in the Court’s Service layers of bureaucracy have been challenged leading to the removal of vast amounts of waste, which has, in turn, allowed the court to re-deploy resources to more value-adding activities. An independent analysis of results describes Vanguard’s intervention as ‘ground-breaking’ adding that the report’s authors have never seen improvement like it.

These profound examples will be on show in a Progressive Leader’s Summit, to be held at the Arts Centre in Melbourne on November 2nd. On top of these achievements, the Summit will feature work on people-centred-services showing how designing effective services has a dramatic impact on costs (yes, there is plenty of money, but it is used ineffectively) and more besides.

If you are in that part of the world, it is an event not to be missed. For more information, please contact: heather@thevanguardmethod.com

Beyond Command and Control: the Masterclass

On June 20th I hosted a Masterclass in Milton Keynes. The videos of the presentations are now available online. My opening keynote is free to view; the presentations by my talented colleagues are available at a tiny cost:


News from Scandinavia

Scandinavian politicians are openly declaring that ‘New Public Management’ isn’t working; would that our politicians could be so brutally honest. Vanguard’s Danish leaders have written a report on the alternative to NPM: new management thinking for the public sector. It is, naturally, in Danish, but I guess with on-line translation you’d get the gist: Alternativet til New Public Management – Ny ledelsestænkning i offentlige systemer

Meanwhile a Finnish follower interviewed me for a podcast which you can access at:

People-centred services

A new video about John Little’s work with Portsmouth Social Care is now available to view on our website. It features a cross section of staff talking about their experiences, including the Deputy Leader of the Council. It is something that every local authority ought to be interested in – better care services at much lower costs:

People-centred services: action-learning

We are currently recruiting the next cohort for our people-centred services action-learning programme, starting March 2018, hosted by Kingston University and St Georges, University of London. This six-month action learning programme teaches you how to make substantial, rapid, innovative and effective change in people centred services.

“This is the most important thing you could do in your working life to make a difference”
Matthew Lowe, Senior Business Designer, Staffordshire County Council, graduate of the programme. More here.

Housing and care services: event

Beyond Blame: Fixing Broken Systems in Housing and Social Care

Wednesday 29th November 2017, hosted by Kingston University and St Georges, University of London.

A must-attend event for directors and managers of housing and social care services.

The public and third sectors are littered with high-profile tragedies that have become the subject of major and costly enquiries, reports and tabloid stories. Attention always turns to finding someone to blame. But how can we fix the system to avoid these tragedies happening in the first place?

Find out how an increasing number of pioneers in both single and multi-agency settings are reducing risk, driving out cost and improving people’s lives by rediscovering their organisation’s true purpose.

More information here.

Apprenticeship programme

As you may be aware, from April this year, the UK Government inflicted a levy on all organisations with a salary bill in excess of £3m. The money can be reclaimed by spending it on apprenticeships. Predictably, the apprenticeship ‘Standards’ are rooted in command-and-control notions. Prompted by client demand, we are collaborating with organisations who want to explore ways of developing an alternative to the proffered traditional management training, including authoring a Standard that would allow organisations to develop their managers using the Vanguard Method. We have the requisite number of ‘Trailblazers’ to tick the procedural box but there is always room for more voices to be heard by the Government. If you would like to be involved and lend your weight to the endeavour, contact Emma: emma@vanguardconsult.co.uk

Universal Credit

I know, yawn yawn…

I submitted evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which you can read here:

The new minister believes the guff about ‘agile’ being the answer but UC is about as agile as a beached whale. The usual stream of reports of hardship and operational failure continue. The most egregious thing is that once everything has been done on-line you have to call a premium-rate phone line to make an appointment with the job centre and often that means you wait on hold, just what UC claimants need…

Note UC has had no less than seven announcements of delays and costs have racked up to £16bn – eye-watering. And, trust me, it can only fail.

Lean in the DWP

Meanwhile academics publish ‘research’ on Lean in the Department of Work and Pensions. I put research in parenthesis because all it amounts to is conducting interviews. So you get corporate blather from senior managers and concerns / problems from those nearer the front line and the whole amounts to a mishmash, providing little clarity on the key issue, what’s really happening to performance –– and if they knew how to get knowledge (shouldn’t academics do that?) they’d see that the Lean numpties have worsened performance by standardising the work.

Womack should give up

More yawns…

Jim Womack, self-styled Lean guru, writes yet again about Lean having failed. And his conclusion: ‘don’t give up’! Jim and his UK sidekick Dan Jones have never worked as managers or engineers in manufacturing organisations. Their book ‘The Machine that Changed the World’, a benchmarking study of the motor industry, shot them to prominence and from that point they capitalised on it by writing further books that only got further away from anything that might constitute sound knowledge. While ‘Machine’ was at least based on data (although Taiichi Ohno repudiated benchmarking) later books are filled with anecdotes, generalisations and armchair theory.

The only good thing about Lean is that people around the world are becoming more aware that it is junk. The only lesson we should take from it is how clever the Americans are at marketing junk.

Thanks for reading!