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ChangeWise QuickRead : Runners, Repeaters & Rarities – Understanding Demand

When starting an improvement project it is often useful to group demand into 3 categories; Runners, Repeaters and Rarities. This exercise enables us to quickly and easily understand where we should focus our efforts if we want to achieve efficiency gains and improved demand management.

What are the benefits of using the 3R’s technique?

Understanding demand allows us to manage workflow more effectively. We often try to force our rarities through our runners and repeaters process, making things overly complicated and impacting our ability to meet demand. Splitting tasks into Runners, Repeaters and Rarities enables improved scheduling, prioritisation and efficiency of our work.

Rarities account for a small proportion of overall demand, but typically require heavy processing time and employee effort – so this is often where we can identify excellent opportunities for removing failure demand/waste.

Tell me more about each of the 3 R’s…….

Each R is a classification based on the volume and variety of the demand (service or product) an operation needs to deliver to their customer. The volume and variety characteristics of products/services influence the design, planning and control of the processes required to deliver them.

Let’s take a look at each R in turn.

To help us, we’ll use a financial recruitment process as our example.


These are the easy and predictable tasks we perform all the time, day-in, day-out. These should be high volume, easy to execute tasks that all team members trained can perform.

For example: Recruitment of high-volume, temporary and permanent staff for generalist front-line banking activities. These candidates would form the majority of staff recruited, so they constitute the majority volume of work.

To process Runners efficiently, the demand should have a dedicated production team with standard ways of working to reduce variation and enable continuous flow.

Photo by Pacto Visual on Unsplash


Again, these are easier tasks that we do quite often, but they are slightly more complex – a runner with a difference! They are usually fairly easy to execute and most team members will be able to fulfil the process.

For example: Head office staff for administrative banking activities. These candidates may not be recruited in high volumes daily, but they will be recruited on a weekly basis.

Repeaters require a multi-skilled team who can switch between Runners and Repeaters to manage any fluctuating demand.

Photo by Ansie Potgieter on Unsplash

Rarities (also referred to as Strangers).

Demand in this category is the complex, irregular work that we rarely do. It can be unpredictable, require more specialist knowledge and be harder to execute.

For example: Recruitment of CEO and Senior Leadership Team Members or extremely specialised insurance candidates.

This type of demand requires a highly skilled, specialist team – and typically works best if separated from runners and repeaters to ensure it does not disrupt the continuous flow of other high-volume demand.

In Summary

Categorising your demand using the 3R’s will help you to achieve flow through identifying which processes require standard, simple processing and which processes should be managed separately (rarities). This will prevent rarities from impacting the flow of your demand, enabling increased capacity, reduced errors and improved capacity management.

Extra Benefits of using the 3R’s 👑

  • Increased skill-sets within the team
  • More opportunities for career progression/development

Want to learn more about how the 3R’s could be used to improve demand management and customer satisfaction within your organisation? Contact us at

Further Reading 📚

  • ChangeWise Quick Read: Failure Demand
  • ChangeWise Quick Glace Case Study: Fleet Vehicle Demand
  • ChangeWise Quick Glace Case Study: Repair Alerts

ChangeWise believes employee engagement is the foundation for successful Change. Training and coaching your people to use simple continuous improvement techniques will enable your organisation to continuously adapt and stay ahead in a constantly changing and challenging environment.

For updates and interesting Lean Change insights, connect with us on LinkedIn.

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