There are times when the size and urgency of our financial challenge means that just making more efficient the things we do now will not be enough. And it is unlikely the next Spending Reviews will offer us any respite.
Unless we attempt to better control the demand side of the operational management equation, then our organisations will no longer be sustainable, either in their present form or, most worryingly, in any more efficient form than we can imagine. The inextricable growth in demand for social care only serves to underline this point. We have, therefore, to be prepared to think differently and do things very differently in the future.
To date, our efforts have been focused almost exclusively on what we do, or ‘supply side’ change – an ‘inside out’ view of our world that mostly accepts and reacts to demand with the focus on improved efficiency and effectiveness of our capacity. There is much more to be done on the supply side, but the drive and focus should now be on the demand side of the equation - an ‘outside in’ view that will enable us to prevent, reduce and divert demand in order to provide social value and reduce costs.
This will require us to go further ‘upstream’ to earlier and earlier interventions, where we will need to collaborate with other agencies and tap into the experience and expertise of our charitable, voluntary and community sector partners. But changes to demand will only be useful if we are rigorous about improving productivity; matching our capacity to the reduced demand; and cashing the efficiency dividend that results.
In this ‘new’ world, demand management, capacity management and supply chain management are inextricably linked.
A demand-centred approach to transformation will lead us to see the ways we must work together and with our partners to redesign our organisations and services to meet the challenges that lie ahead over the next 5, 10 and 20 years.