Opportunity Costing…

This page provides references and materials related to the concepts, methods and tools used in the Opportunity Costing Programme.

This programme was created by Professor Nick Rich, drawing on the field of Operations Research; Sion Charles, providing the translation into Organisational Development; and Matt Wyatt, applying the concepts into everyday practice. All of which combine to provide a rich and participative environment to increase your capacity and capability to deliver sustainable change.

In a Nutshell

In response to service led demand for a way of demonstrating value for money in the NHS, the team developed a means of designing, evaluating and costing service change ideas. In practice, this is a costing benefits workshop that we have developed and deliver for NHS staff, which we follow up with hands on support.

Our focus is on opportunity costs.  These are costs that fall around the margins of work and resource usage where more effective, efficient or less wasteful processes can be developed to streamline services or smooth flow.  In other words, these may not be hard cash savings but similarly they are not fanciful guestimates. They are real opportunities to make better use of resources to achieve more. The approach that we present is collaborative:

Step 1: Setting the Scope – Groundwork & Engagement

  • This is arguably the most important step.  It includes identifying and involving all the stakeholders to make sure that you have all the expert knowledge you need as well as securing buy-in.
  • This is an iterative step that you may return to several times to ensure that service or process under review is clearly defined and understood.
  • It is set from the perspective of the user of the service/process – commonly, the patient.

Step 2: Drawing Flow – Sharing & Mapping

  • Swim Lane Mapping
  • Develop pan stakeholder engagement, consensus and understanding

Step 3: Analysing Flow – Tools & Techniques

  • Access a range of tools and techniques to analyse the flow and inform your new service/process

Step 4: Redesign Flow – Critique & Cost

  • Develop a new flow – consider alternatives and different ways of working
  • Cost the Existing Flow, cost the new flow.  Work out the difference to show the improvement in financial terms


Opportunity Costing © Wyatt, Charles & Rich 2014: https://complexwales.com/opportunity-costing

Meet the Team

Fancy working with us?

Most of the Opportunity Costing Programme is delivered through tailored workshops, bringing together diverse groups of people who do the work, to work on the work they do.

The sessions are fun and participative and a part of the process is calculating the Opportunity Cost that resides within their improvement ideas. So far over 400 people have taken part and the aggregate savings, from over 90 projects has exceeded £8,000,000.

Participants leave the room with everything they need to progress a strong business case for investment, but best of all, the know how to implement their ideas without one.

If you’d like to know more, I’d suggest offering any of us a coffee and a catch up via twitter or, using the form below, simply get in touch…

Prof Nick Rich


Nick is a socio-technical systems researcher, meaning he has an interest in how people and technology work together to generate high performance organisations and highly reliable organisations. Nick is a renowned academic, a polymath, and his interests cover healthcare systems reliability and high performance manufacturing and service operations.

His career started at Cardiff and his work was some of the most influential in terms of the development and dissemination of lean systems (Lean Enterprise Research Centre). He was trained in Japan by the Toyota Motor Corporation and holds one of the Elite IIES Toyota Fellowships. Working with his mentor Professor Dan Jones, Nick expanded his research into food retailing and production (Tesco, Unilever) and manufacturing. During this time, he accumulated over £4mn of EPSRC funding and an Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (£3,5mn to study nanotechnology and lean business systems).

Nick’s interest in lean socio-technical systems and his passion for robust engineering maintenance (TPM) has won him many awards and accolades (Innovation Prizes, and Shingo Examiner status). He took time out of the university system to work on a turnaround of a cosmetics company and having achieved that goal he returned to academia. Luck led Nick to the NHS when an anaesthetist called one day and asked if Nick’s engineering and human factors knowledge could be applied to surgery and theatres for patient flow. World healthcare research now dominates 70% of his research and almost 100% of his PhD students.

Whilst at Warwick Medical School, under Professor Mathew Cooke, Nick developed more of his human factors interests whilst funded by The Health Foundation to research safer clinical systems. This opened up pathways of socio-technical systems to explore. In 2011-12, Nick went to The Royal Mint to be the Chief Engineer of the 2012 Olympic medals


Copies of the various materials, tools, techniques and references are all provided in the workshop and further digital copies are available to participants on request:

  • Workbook
  • Slide Set
  • Swimlane
  • A3 Template
  • Calculator

Siôn Charles


Siôn is a highly experienced deputy director and project director with a track-record of consistently delivering against targets, achieving financial balance, delivering to plan, and setting and achieving milestones.

Experienced working in a range of complex organisations and environments in multiple and sometimes challenging partnerships with public, private and third sector organisations to deliver national government strategies, services, projects, programmes and service improvements. Skilled at engaging and influencing to develop and maintain open and constructive relationships with numerous organisations, agencies and contractors.

A supportive leader, respecting and valuing the contributions of others; creating a positive, focused working environment that supports colleagues to work and deliver to their full potential. Skilled at making sense of chaos, often seeing what others don’t, offering new approaches and perspectives to resolving old challenges and translating complex delivery requirements into simple actions.

Siôn takes a particular interest in health service innovation and change. He support and advocate for emerging sciences and approaches to change, such as Prudent Healthcare, behaviour change, complexity, cultural anthropology, and systems working.

Siôn works with and advises colleagues in Welsh Government (WG) and the NHS to develop innovative ideas, schemes, products and services to drive A Healthier Wales’ objectives – taking an action focused, purposeful approach to finding new and better ways of delivering health and care services.

Matt Wyatt


Matt is an unashamed NHS fanboy with a career extending over 25 years responsible for the delivery of a wide range of healthcare services across specialist, acute and community settings. He first got into the NHS by mistake, as his professional life began as an Architect. With this background – in how to design the space necessary for other people to do something useful – he naturally gravitated towards roles within organisational development and service improvement.

Matt has led a number of programmes encompassing Multidisciplinary Working, Practice Development, Clinical Decision Making, Behavioural Change and Collaborative Commissioning. Described by a few smashing people, as “the best facilitator ever”, he has put that to good use supporting the development of a wide range of professional networks including several national practitioner led, Communities of Practice.

Matt now provides advice and support on national initiatives that span traditional organisational, policy and professional boundaries. Although called an Advisor, he’s actually a professional interferer, particularly when people talk a load of rubbish about innovation and leadership, or talk a load of sense about design, asset based development and pretty much anything that involves leveraging the diversity of a crowd. His intellectual interests are centred on translating the concepts, methods and tools from Complexity Science, into everyday practice. Sounds theoretical, but it’s all about managing in the present.

With a challenging, insightful and entertaining style Matt regularly delivers keynote sessions for business and education and most often, just for the hell of it, when someone asks nicely, “I also provide reorientation therapy for people who have been Leadershipped, or recently escaped from Improvementology, or just landed on earth for the first time”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: