12 June 2008

"Command and Control" or "Systems Management"

Today I learned about John Seddon and his book Freedom from Command and Control: a better way to make the work work (2003) (ISBN 0-9546183-0-0).

He is lead consultant of Vanguard, a consultancy company he formed in 1985, and is considered a "Management Guru", although a reluctant one, for adapting the Toyota Production System and the work of W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno into a methodology for improving performance in service industries he describes as "systems thinking", as opposed to the top-down rigid "management thinking" (or "Command and Control" thinking) that predominates most service industries today. He is particularly critical of target-based management, and of basing decisions on economies of scale, rather than "economies of flow" (see Wikipedia entry).

John uses the Red Bead Experiment to show that now amount of persuasion or quality-based incentives can help employees overcome in-built process quality problems.

I also found a Youtube video of him discussing parts of his new book.

David Snowdon said on ActKM about John that "taking manufacturing techniques sideways into service and government has been a very very bad habit over the last few years", however it seems this is exactly what John is saying I think I might be able to use John's publications and the concept of systems management as a basis for my non-Taylorist management philosophies in the thesis.

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