Ever feel like that ever-growing backlog of un-started or un-finished files has a life of its own? It can be hard to make progress on it, especially while clients keep calling, new requests come in and staff are busy creating backlog reports. You bring in temporary help to try to fix the problem but it doesn’t work, and you’re left with low staff morale and an even larger backlog.  If only you could blow up that backlog.

You can. We describe how in an article written for Canadian Government Executive Magazine

To fix the problem it is important to understand how backlogs develop and grow. The graphic below illustrates how this happens.

In this content area, we cover:

  • Analysis of your backlog – is it a “current” backlog (your process is unable to keep up with current demand) or a “historic” backlog (your process is capable of keeping up with current demand, if the existing backlog did not exist).  Different backlog types require different strategies to succeed.
  • How to create and execute your backlog strategy, including:
    • How to identify the variation that started or perpetuates the backlog cycle; identify root causes.
    • Strategies to reduce unreasonableness, and the resulting overwhelm on staff and leaders to create better focus, productivity and morale.
    • Strategies to identify and eliminate failure demand
    • Strategies to identify and eliminate other wastes that prevent you from keeping up with demand
    • Strategies to communicate with your stakeholders to influence their behaviour, using the principles of “Nudge” / behavioural economics to understand their interests and create behaviours that support your backlog reduction strategy.
    • How to create buy-in to your strategy inside and outside of the organization, at multiple levels.
    • How to execute your backlog strategy using the principles of Lean and Agile/Scrum

Seddon, J. (2019, October 28). Failure Demand: John Seddon Vanguard Consulting. Vanguard. https://vanguard-method.net/failure-demand/

Nudge Theory. ( 2012 April 12) In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_theory


  • One-hour talk
  • Group/team multi-day training workshops 
  • Consulting engagements to work side-by-side with you to eliminate your backlog


Identify failure demand/preventable work early on and eliminate it. This frees up significant capacity and creates focus to take on the activities required to beat the backlog.