John is a occupational psychologist who runs a consultancy called Vanguard, who implement a method of process improvement that draws on the philisophies of W. Edwards Deming, Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo.
In this book he explains the effects that target setting, work standardisation, back office systems etc. have on the quality and cost of work thats is done in service organisations.
I found this really chimes with my ideas of what is wrong in organisations, where the jobs are de-skilled and check box processes are supposed to replace knowledge. Unlike me, John has ideas of a better way and he has been developing and testing it in the real world.
The key points are: find out what the customer wants by asking them. Measure how good your organisation is at doing the things customers want. Design the workflow ("the way the work works", according to John) to accept the variation in demands made on it by customers. Put the skilled poeple who can fix customers' concerns at the front end of the service and have them work directly with customers. Service work contains lots more variation than manufacturing work does, which is why straight application of the toyota Production System does not work. Much of the demand in service providers is failure demand - rework.
I read this book a couple of years ago and I have read John's other books since; but this is the best place to start, as it gives a good overview. Since I read it the Baby P tragedy happened and this book is now more important than ever. Not only can John's method save millions of pounds in costs, increase user satisfaction, get you served quicker and more accurately, it could save lives.
Woolas says that there might be 100 thousand Gurkhas wanting to come to the UK. Fine, stop letting in people from round the world that have nothing to do with the UK, who just want to make money of Brits and let in these honest, loyal, brave people instead.
Chris Dillow today talks about the damge the financial crisis is doing to the left's agenda. The post contains the admission that squeezing the rich won't pay for the damage and cuts that the left is happy to see (e.g. abolosing the Dept of Trade) won't do it either. His only calls are to increase inheritance tax and give control of the pulic services to the workers - that worked last time, didn't it?
There is lots in the news today about proposals by all parties to reduce public sector spending.
Darling is promising he knows where to save £15billion. Some are pointing out that when the Tories said that sort of thing Labour say that Tories will be "cutting" and closing hospitals. There is lots of scepticsm that savings are possible.
Obnoxio reckons he can save 80% of government spending.
My suggestion is to look to the most efficient company in the world: Toyota. John Seddon, a UK managament guru has done just that: taken the Ideas of Taichi Ohno and used them to improve public services. Like Toyota, he works on two things at once: better quality and less waste. He acheives cost reductions and better services.