How Systems Thinking Will Get You to Rethink Performance Improvement—A Conversation with John Seddon of Vanguard

Genna Weiss

Is denouncing targets and metrics controversial? John Seddon, Managing Director for Vanguard Consulting Ltd. and leading authority on changes in organizations, has stirred up controversy in the U.K. with comments he made in the Local Government Chronicle regarding the Audit Commission’s performance improvement policies that he deemed to make performance actually worse. In this Profit through Process Podcast, Genna Weiss of Six Sigma IQ speaks with Seddon, who claims you should employ Systems Thinking to make the work "work," which will allow your organization to become more effective at understanding what the customer demands.

Systems Thinking is a paradigm shift from the traditional Command and Control management system prevalent in today’s business organizations. Seddon, who is a visiting professor at the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at the University of Cardiff and author of Freedom from Command and Control and Systems Thinking in the Public Sector, gives details of how Systems Thinking eliminates Command and Control’s top-down approach, designs against customer demand and puts control and decision making in the hands of the workers.

Seddon provides deployment tips to entrench Systems Thinking within your organization and tells where to find resources for this implementation. He also explains how it is possible to leverage Systems Thinking alongside process improvement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma, and how this approach can be advocated for adoption amongst the Process Excellence community.