Sunday, April 06, 2008

Housing repairs PIs, inspectors and targets

This week’s Inside Housing has a challenging article by John Seddon (the management guru who has popularised “lean thinking” in the UK). He writes on performance improvement in housing - and how, he suggests, targets and the Audit Commission inspection regime hinders it.

Sadly there is no copy of the article on Inside Housing website. However, there is an article making a similar case on John Seddon’s website, Systems Thinking. I have some sympathy with the case being made.

Inspectors (and politicians) often assume that everything can be fixed by targets (or higher targets if performance is not good enough). Sometimes “targets and terror” can work – but I would argue that such an approach cannot deliver sustainable improvement.

Housing associations and ALMOs should not give up all hope. They can do something. For a start, they should remember that the Housing Corporation has shifted the focus on repairs performance indicators from response times to resident satisfaction. It appears to be that few housing associations have re-thought their own repairs PIs and introduced a more holistic and sophisticated framework for repairs performance.

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