Command and control thinking has a set of assumptions about how to do work: Work starts with a plan and a budget. Controls (measures) are put in place and then the management task is to execute the plan, reporting on deviations from the controls.

These measures are generally arbitrary measures: budget, work-states, service-levels, conformance to standards etc. Most of these measures are related to cost.

The Vanguard approach is to start from an understanding of what matters to customers. This knowledge is used to establish measures of achievement of purpose in customer terms – actual measures, not arbitrary ones, for example the true end-to-end time it takes for customers to receive a service or the true percentage of customer demands that are resolved at the first point of transaction.

These measures describe the capability of the system and can be used to understand and improve the service by both workers and managers.

It is to switch from cost thinking to purpose thinking. It is to switch from trying to control operations with arbitrary measures – which actually drive the system out of control – to being able to control operations with real measures. The better measures, in turn, create a better ethic, where continuous learning and improvement follow naturally.