In normal times, we are on site with our clients. An important part of the Vanguard Method is studying demand. This usually means listening to live phone calls, sitting in face-to-face meetings and looking at case files across multiple IT systems. A Vanguard expert is typically with you when you start doing this work. Some of this isn’t possible at the moment, so can we help you remotely? And how does it work?

We weren’t sure how it would work when lockdown started but we have learned that it’s not only possible, but it’s also very effective. Most organisations record phone calls, and this verbatim demand is a great source of learning. Some organisations even have the functionality for more than person to plug into a live call. With a Vanguard expert present, 4 or 5 people can listen to demand together on a video call and discuss whether the call is value or failure demand. The learning is richer as a group with an expert present. Once everyone is familiar with understanding whether a call is value or failure, teams can go off and listen to more calls, either recorded or live, to get a picture of the type and frequency of demand. We find that clients enjoy working at a pace that suits them, pulling for help when they need it, and coming back as a team with a Vanguard expert when they have more data.

In people centred systems, for example, in social care services, seeing someone in person helps you to understand more about their context and situation. There are non-verbal clues when you are with someone that you simply don’t get from a phone call. So, if you aren’t able to see people face-to-face at the moment, your listening and understanding skills need to be even more refined. This is an excellent opportunity to practise and develop your intervention skills and apply Egan’s model of the Skilled Helper.

We are on site with some clients in some circumstances, but we will certainly be continuing to help you study demand remotely when we know it will add value for you.