Meet Andrew Humphreys
Having started a Chemistry degree, because it was my favourite subject at school, I made a choice that I wanted my work to have a positive impact on people’s lives. After graduation, therefore, I embarked on a gap year programme with a YMCA charity, supporting homeless people and those who had been excluded from school.
That year opened my eyes to both the needs of those most disadvantaged in society, but also the amazing work being undertaken by both the public and voluntary sectors to try to meet these needs. The year led to a varied early career in different public services, including welfare to work, criminal justice and further education, culminating in me gaining responsibility for several service development areas for a national social housing provider.
I enjoyed these service management and development roles, particularly the positive impact that my work had, but found myself fixing similar problems in different settings. One such problem was services that had been designed to make them easy to operate and manage, but not so easy to access and benefit from for those who needed them. Another was how measures of effectiveness were often focused on the service, rather than the people to which services were delivered.
I remember switching the main service measure for retirement housing from “service satisfaction”, which had always been very high, to improved wellbeing over the first six months of residents’ tenancies. This exposed weaknesses in the service that wouldn’t have been picked up previously. Having addressed several of these problems, I made the decision that I would achieve more for the people whose lives I was seeking to impact as a consultant, focusing on resolving such service design and measurement challenges.
A year of study to gain an MBA gave me time to reflect and examine such problems from a distance, which led me to develop the concept of “Value Confusion”: the inability of those involved in the design, management and delivery of services to fully understand the value that those services intend to deliver. This seemed to tie many of them together and gave me the focus I needed to launch my consulting career. Since then, connecting people to the purpose and value of their work has been a constant motivation.
I am convinced that not only does this significantly improve the outcomes of services delivered to those in need, but also that connecting people to the purpose of their work and ensuring they see its value to those that benefit will also make the public and voluntary sectors great places to work.
Some of my consulting highlights include delivering a feasibility study for a new resilience service for a consortium of charities working with families in London, supporting local authorities to redesign services and better measure both the needs of their populations and impact of their work, identifying the barriers to improvement for an NHS Trust and making recommendations to overcome these, supporting a charity board to develop a logic model and define the impact and outcomes they sought to deliver and supporting a commercial organisation that delivers digital and financial inclusion programmes to improve the process by which it brings new services to market.
The aspect of working as a consultant I enjoy the most is engaging with clients, particularly leaders, and helping them to think differently about their work or the clients they deliver this to in ways that lead to significantly improved outcomes and impact. In the long run, I hope my work will influence the public and voluntary sectors so that those who work in them are more deeply connected to the purpose of their work and put more of their effort and energy into creating and delivering the value that those who access these services need.