Three ideas for dealing with bottlenecks in your system.
These simple ideas can apply to lots of different situations: I shall use the examples of a huge bottleneck we have in our housing crisis in Ireland. By their nature, these are temporary fixes and do not address any long-term investment in capacity.
- Start measuring and improving capacity utilisation by sector and by geography. We often measure the wrong thing. Trolley lists in hospitals, homeless numbers, conviction rates, when we should be measuring other things. On time successful discharge rates, Room occupancy rate, successful crime preventions. It is true that these can be harder to measure, but with IoT devices, instant survey system etc, they are becoming easier to measure. What we measure impacts what we do. Let’s use a few examples:
- Utilisation of living over the shop. Retail Excellence wants to do it. See https://fora.ie/live-above-shops-scheme-3632761-Oct2017/ So why are we talking about this for over 20 years with no progress. Government needs to enable councils to give temporary fixed term planning exemptions which enable older buildings and premises which will only comply with new regulations once they are knocked and rebuilt. Of course, people need a minimum of exit methods in case of fire etc. Most upper stories on our retail streets are way underutilised but they are uneconomic to develop when an income is being generated on the ground floor. So perhaps we need to charge the planning department with achieving a key metric of utilisation of space above shops for residential and allocate central funds to local authorities on the basis of their success relative to the pressure on homelessness in the locality. Perhaps that might generate some alignment of interests.
- Utilisation of single occupancy homes by elderly. Many of the elderly today came from an era when they saved a little and supplemented it with their non-contributory pension. Today we have a crazy situation where these elderly are incentivised to stay in their far too big family homes, way beyond a period when the home is useful to them. The first problem is that if they rent them out, the income is taken from their pensions, so they face a disincentive to move. Secondly, there is a woeful level of accommodation for such people. So rather than focusing on new build in outer suburbs or city centre, where is the focus on enabling the empty nesters to move locally to suitable accommodation, so for every one bed that is built that 3 become available?
- If the capacity is in the wrong place, which is it easier to move, the machine/property or the people? The people is the harder one to move as they have free will. Moving machines and property is a question of time and money. So initiatives should be made to incentivise those who can move to move where there is capacity, as people are clearly more mobile.