24 September 2009

Serving The Public: Getting better all the time…?

Jeremy Cox, Vanguard Consulting

Over the last 30 years, reform of the state sector has been a mainstay of political party manifestos. Despite a raft of legislative changes and interventions during that period much of the state sector’s performance stubbornly falls short of society’s expectations. Influenced by the global success of companies such as Toyota, a small but growing number of government employees have sought, against the official orthodoxy, to apply similar thinking to their work activities. As a result there are pockets within the state sector which can boast results that outstrip those of earlier and current reform regimes: significantly higher ratings from end-users, less wasteful use of resources and better workplaces for employees.

For this meeting, We were joined by Jeremy Cox, public sector lead at Vanguard Consulting who, for several years, has helped managers and teams in government agencies to make this radical shift in how they design and manage work. In the first half of the meeting he shared the lessons and insights he has gained from his experiences in the public sector. It was a personal point of view, ‘not trotting out the Vanguard party line’.  Afterwards, we considered together what features of the current system are hindering greater progress towards a more widespread adoption of a systems-based approach and how we, as a network and individuals, might influence change, even if we don’t work in the state sector.

About the speaker

Jeremy originally trained as a mechanical Engineer, and worked in manufacturing before ‘discovering’ Alfie Kohn and Deming whilst studying in Bradford in the early nineties. Subsequently, he worked to put systems ideas in to practice in financial services in a variety of operational management, project management and improvement roles. He has been working with Vanguard for eight years in a huge variety of public and private sector systems. He lives in Leeds, where most of his spare time is spent entertaining his wife and four children.


You can download a copy of Jeremy’s slides from this session.

What participants said

“The last session was concise, relevant, very informative and relevant to all businesses – but I couldn’t get anybody from my company to attend because it was labelled as a Local Authority session (I think) – please ensure that the title does reveal the true nature of the session.”


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