Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The failure of the reform regime... and a manifesto for a better way
John Seddon
Publication Date
April 2008
Triarchy Press Ltd
FROM AMAZON.COM: The free market has become the accepted model for the public sector. Politicians on all sides compete to spread the gospel. And so, in the UK and elsewhere, there's been massive investment in public sector 'improvement', 'customer choice' has been increased and new targets have been set and refined.

But our experience is that things haven't changed much. This is because governments have invested in the wrong things. Belief in targets, incentives and inspection; belief in economies of scale and shared back-office services; belief in 'deliverology... these are all wrong-headed ideas and yet they have underpinned this government's attempts to reform the public sector.

John Seddon here dissects the changes that have been made in a range of services, including housing benefits, social care and policing.

His descriptions beggar belief, though they would be funnier if it wasn't our money that was being wasted. In place of the current mess, he advocates a Systems Thinking approach where individuals come first, waste is reduced and responsibility replaces blame. It's an approach that is proven, successful and relatively cheap — and one that governments around the world, and their advisers, need to adopt urgently.

Systems Thinking in the Public Sector
Filed under: public service, systems, value demand, failure demand.
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One Comment
Jeff Howard on June 14, 2010 10:05pm
Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The failure of the reform regime... and a manifesto for a better way
By John Seddon
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  1. In the beginning... the emergence of a new ideology
  2. Do people want 'choice'?
  3. From particular case to general rule: ministers managing benefits
  4. The present style of management
  5. Systems thinking: a better way to make the work work
  6. Purpose — measures — method
  7. An irrational belief in targets
  8. 'Deliverology': the science of delivery, or dogmatic delusion?
  9. Taking the value out of policing
  10. Failing those who need care
  11. A gloomy vision: public-service factories
  12. Is 'Public Value' the answer?
  13. Is 'citizen empowerment' the answer?
  14. The regime: systemically incapable of doing the right thing
  15. Reforming the regime