By David Hoyle, New Charter Housing

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone to Alice, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

So; when you use the phrase ‘Demand Management’ what do you mean?

  • Is your organisation, in effect, announcing to others; I no longer have sufficient resources – so it’s up to you lot to do stuff that solves my over-demand crisis; or,
  • We’re committed – as part of a group of like-minded organisations – to collectively making sense of a shared problem of escalating needs amongst our customers – we each bring expertise, skills and knowledge to a co-creation of solutions?

If what you mean when you use the phrase ‘Demand Management’ is the latter (hopefully!); there will probably be one or two ruts to be got out of?

  • Good quality data and information are not part of the problem – they’re fundamental in the solution
    • Let’s make a start with what we’ve got now – not wait (and wait) until everyone agrees our data set is absolutely perfect. As we start and move forward, we’ll refine and update what we’ve got – and add to it as people see the use-value in joining in with the work.
    • By the way – pet projects; ‘flavours-of-the-month’; vested interests and political ‘influence’ needs to be increasingly marginalised in evidence informed demand management (which could come as a nasty surprise to some Senior Managers, Board Members and Elected Members …)
  • Egos (personal and organisational) get in the way of solutions
    • If the question is ‘How do we organise and configure services in ways, places and at times that enable customers to effectively identify, address and resolve their needs at the earliest stage’ …
    • So; why do we often find ourselves in endless meeting cycles and situations where the ego of an individual (or individuals) or organisation (organisations) are allowed to become part of the problem?
  • Just because it worked somewhere else …
    • Doesn’t mean it will work here – there is no ‘magic bullet’ or ‘One Best Way’ – the spaces and places where we operate are highly complex and fluid.
    • It almost certainly worked in the other location because of a unique combination of place, people, vision, internalised beliefs and moral habits.
  • “But, what guarantees can you give me this will work”
    • When resources are scarce, before committing some of what’s left to something new/untried it can be tempting to retreat to the binary question – will this work? Yes or No?
    • But, by definition, we’ve never faced the span and scale of the financial, social and emotional situations and circumstances we currently face. Simply doing less of what we’ve always done isn’t a solution; it’s blatant avoidance

We need to engage decision makers and resource holders in conversations about ‘Research and Development’ seed-funding – and the concept of ‘safe-fail’/defensible risk in the development of contextually relevant solutions that are probably going to be effective …

I started this provocation with a quote; so, I thought I’d also finish with one …

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them” (Einstein)