In this video, Professor John Seddon explains some of the seminal moments in the development of the Vanguard Method since the 1980s. The Vanguard Method enables managers to study their organisation as a system and on the basis of the knowledge gained, redesign their services to improve performance and drive out costs. It can be described as a combination of systems thinking (‘how the work works’) and intervention theory (‘how to change it’).

The video, filmed in November 2009, tells the story of how Seddon:
–    realised the need to focus on the system, not the people in it
–    came to understand about intervention theory (how to enter a system, help it and then leave it more capable than it was)
–    recognised the failures of conventional management and change programmes such as TQM and Lean
–    understood the importance of taking a customer’s perspective, especially the necessity of studying customer demands into transactional service systems
–    developed the Vanguard model for Check, a structured way of understanding how a service works from the customer’s point of view
–    was influenced by W Edwards Deming (particularly the notion that we need not be tied to the faulty conventions of modern management) and Taiichi Ohno’s innovations with the Toyota Production System, where Ohno made managers study the work for themselves

Seddon leaves us by reiterating that studying leads to knowledge, which leads to being able to predict improvement; and while the scale of the improvement is never predictable, it is always far more than would have been put into a plan in advance.