The Whitehall Effect

I’m pleased to report the book has just been published. I like it! I hope newsletter readers will like it too; please send me your views. As you may recall I want the book to stimulate a dialogue between the electorate and parliamentary candidates. The election is, it seems to me, the only way to hold politicians to account (why should we vote for you if you are going to waste taxpayers’ money?). We will be putting up a blog as the dialogue develops to share what transpires.

You can buy the book here.


Universal Train Crash

The Universal Credit train crash continues (newsletters passim ad infinitum). Iain Duncan Smith has just been, yet again, to the Select Committee and done his usual ‘I know what I am doing’ act, dismissive of any arguments to the contrary. Select Committees are said to hold parliament to account but politicians treat them as an exercise in bluffing your way through, much like getting a grilling on Newsnight, and, in any event, the committees have no teeth. It seems it matters not that they have exposed the shocking waste of money on many large-scale government change ventures, for nothing changes and the protagonists are never truly held to account or prevented from repeating their mistakes.

The original (2011) plan for UC promised that 1.1 million people would be using the digital service by last April. This number was revised down to 184,000 (a whopping fall) in 2012 and the current number achieved to date is – wait for it – 17,000 (!!) and despite, by their own admission, concentrating on the simplest demands, few, if any, are being served in a wholly digital fashion. In order to get it working they have had to surround claimants with service personnel from a variety of public-sector organisations; the only way to manage the variety (I have to say I told him so). I have a steady stream of tales from people who have had the most shocking experiences with UC, demonstrating that the unknowable cost (lives damaged) is high – and these are supposed to be the ‘easy’ ones.

If Iain Duncan Smith was a private-sector manager he’d have been ‘held to account’ – sacked – a long time ago.

More on the UC debacle in these links:


Meanwhile DWP managers practice ‘rank and yank’ appraisals with their staff and compound the misery by engaging theme in ‘forced fun’. You couldn’t make it up… http://gu.com/p/42f3z

Seeking El Dorado

Ministers are trying to put a message out to asylum seekers to say ‘go away – the UK is no El Dorado’. A Select Committee has done a sterling job surfacing the facts: £1bn wasted on IT; 29,000 asylum seekers still waiting for their application to be processed. 50,000 asylum seekers who have not been given permission to stay cannot now be found.

Seems to me there is little point in politicians blathering about ‘no El Dorado here’. The picture in my mind is: while the out-of-touch politicians bleat, the many thousands tell their friends ‘come on in the water’s lovely – if you can get in they won’t kick you out!’. El Dorado indeed.

And for the record: I am one of those who believes that immigration has been a healthy contribution to this country for a long time, especially when we welcome people who have nothing.

See the report here: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/29/britain-immigration-system-in-chaos-report-reveals

Seddon speaks

I am speaking at the Locality annual convention on Tuesday 18th of this month. Locality is a membership association for the voluntary sector. Information at: http://locality.org.uk/events/locality-annual-convention-2014/

I am being interviewed by Brian Taylor (BBC Political Editor Scotland) at a Holyrood Leadership event in Edinburgh (December 12th). I’d like my Scottish readers to help me in preparing. From everything I know the issues I talk about here and in the book are essentially the same in Scotland. I am aware there are structural differences (like in health and the justice system) but Scottish leaders are just as obsessed with the same wrong-headed things as Whitehall. But tell me, am I wrong?

Info here: https://www.holyrood.com/event/public-service-leadership-forum-0

New events for the New Year

I’ve been asking people about what events they’d like to see from us. So we have a little plan. Two new events are planned for Spring: A one-day introduction to the Vanguard Method and The Vanguard Method in financial services.

Initial dates have been set for the one-day introduction: Thursday 5th February 2015 at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff and Thursday 12th February 2015 at The Oriel Hotel, St Asaph, Denbighshire. Both in Wales I know, but we have a strong presence there and people are asking for it. If you want one in a town near you let us know!

Further information is here and, for a booking form, please contact Janice Mack

Dates for the financial services event will be decided later. To receive an alert please ask Janice (email above). We have been helping financial services firms across five countries get back to providing amazing customer service with a jaw-dropping impact on the bottom line (the rudder of profit at work). This event will feature how.

The Vanguard Method action-learning programme

This is the only public programme we have that teaches the basics through action learning.
We have scheduled to run it in Cardiff (3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th March), then twice in Birmingham (5th, 12th, 19th & 26th March and 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th June).

These programmes are designed for delegates to do lots of work when they get back to their companies, where the real learning occurs. So you will need to have time to do that (another 4 days at least) if you sign up.

For a booking form and further information click here or email Janice Mack