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Reasons for weak productivity and poor-quality public services exposed

by Anthony Weaver

Iconoclastic management thinker, John Seddon argues that the most important signal of poor economic performance is ‘failure demand’ – demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for customers. Failure demand is a signal of ineffectiveness and it robs organisations of capacity, hence it drives up costs while also frustrating customers.

In private-sector services failure demand can account for 40 to 80% of all customer demand; in the public sector it is frequently higher.

John hosted a recent event and explained how he first came across the problem and determined its cause – command-and-control management thinking. He described how command-and-control management practices create failure demand and how only a change in management thinking leads to its eradication.

John gave examples from private- and public-sector organisations, showing how re-thinking management eradicated failure demand and led to profound increases in quality of service and employee morale while also driving costs out of the system. The economic results are nothing short of breath-taking.

Seddon says: “Whether you are a consumer trying to get your telephone provider to do something or someone whose life has fallen off the rails trying to get help from the State you are subjected to experiences that are bureaucratic, time-consuming, frustratingly repetitive and, all too frequently, unhelpful. The cost to ‘customers’ is nothing compared to the cost created in the service providers. Failure demand is the signal that ought to make leaders sit up.” To access this event online or to find out more visit https://vanguard-method.net/2018/06/failure-demand-from-the-horses-mouth-with-john-seddon/


John Seddon is an occupational psychologist and management thinker. He was awarded the first McKinsey / HBR prize for leadership innovation in 2010 and has received numerous academic awards for his contribution to management science.

Contact Details

For expert comment or to ask for a sample of John’s work contact:

Charlotte Pell
[email protected]
07515 664509

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