Hamish’s pioneering work challenges the widespread assumption that everything is a capacity problem and that there is no waste in the way things currently work. His experience has taught him that conventional approaches to business change, performance improvement and cost reduction start from the wrong end. “We set out to reduce costs by reducing activity and expect customers or service users to change their behaviour.” This ‘back-to-front’ approach focuses on activity volumes and bottom-line costs, a focus that too often causes problems later.
Understanding data on customer demand in terms of the needs of discrete customer demographics requires much greater thought if their needs are to drive service. That way savings can be made, and further costs and worse service avoided. Improvement work can then focus on redesigning services and systems around the exact needs of different cohorts of customers, starting with the ‘vital few’ who consume the majority of activity and costs.