Leader’s Summit

Last month I hosted a leader’s summit in London, featuring private-sector leaders who have employed the Vanguard Method. As one leader observed, one day all organisations will be run this way – it reflects the fact that it works (unlike many other interventions, as presenters testified) and, moreover, once any leader crosses the Rubicon, they can’t go back to what they now know to be poor management thinking. We are posting a series of video compilations on our web site.


Pathologically wrong

I haven’t come across the dreaded ISO 9000 series of so-called quality standards in recent years; the private sector now largely ignores it, recognising its worthlessness. But it popped up recently; one of our people was helping a pathology service with the Vanguard Method. By coincidence the work was carried out at the same time that pathology services were being coerced to register to ISO 15189.

It was a déjà vu moment. No different to what I saw back in the 90s when I wrote The Case Against ISO 9000. Conformance to the Standard delivered nothing in terms of quality and instead created a bureaucratic impediment to improvement. Further, as ministers want a ‘market’ in pathology services and conformance will be the ticket for market entry, we can predict that high-cost low-quality services will be the result; locking in costs for the long term.

I thought it worth writing a paper about the problem, after all it is in everyone’s interest to improve the quality of pathology services, and I sent it to the great and good responsible for promulgating it. Did they seize the opportunity to make a real difference – did they behave like leaders? Of course not; most ignored the paper and the few who responded spoke in terms of this merely being my opinion.

Ministers believe the Standard will make a positive contribution to the economics of pathology services, they couldn’t be more wrong. The ISO 9000 series is a pathological disease; conformance to specifications can’t drive quality.

Please read the paper and judge for yourself.

Ambition realised in Wales

As readers will know, we have been pioneering better methods for people-centred services – far better services at much lower costs. At an event in June we will be showcasing what has been achieved in Wales.

Keynote speakers will be Dr Chris O’Connor, Divisional Director, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Shayne Hembrow, Deputy Chief Executive and Commercial Director, Wales and West Housing. Front-line teams who now work in a completely different way will show what they have been doing, why, and how profoundly better services drive costs out of the system. Simon Pickthall will be explaining the simple steps to take to study people-centred services and I shall be speaking too.

The event is on Tuesday 21st June in Llandrindod Wells. To book a place contact Maria: office@vanguardconsult.co.uk

Vanguard Periodical – second edition

The second edition of the Vanguard periodical focusses on our work in people-centred services. This edition contains new knowledge, up to date insights, astonishing results, the latest thinking and personal reflections – all written by Vanguard experts.

To read it:

The Vanguard Method and People-Centred Services – a course offered through the University of Buckingham Business School

This, the second course, begins in June. It is a year-long course that teaches the Vanguard Method for people-centred services by action-learning. We should not dread further cuts to services; we should not fret about the impact of cuts on individuals and communities. The scope for improving people’s lives and significantly reduce costs is nothing short of profound.

Find out more.

Better Practice Day

On 20th September 2016, graduates from the first people-centred services programme run with the University of Buckingham will present what they have learned about improving people’s lives and dramatically reducing cost in people centred services. This free event will interest anyone who is curious about using the Vanguard Method, is considering studying on the Buckingham course or would like to know more about our work. The event will be held in Buckingham. It will be a small event and only a limited number of places are available.
If you would like an invitation from the University of Buckingham and Vanguard to attend, please contact Charlotte: charlotte.pell@vanguardconsult.co.uk.

An MSc in the Vanguard Method

We are currently writing a curriculum for an MSc in service systems. Students will not only learn how to apply the Vanguard Method to service organisations but will also learn how our work fits in the academic literature of change, systems theory and intervention theory and practice. It won’t be ready to fly until next year but if you know someone who wants to learn and also wants an academic qualification then let Maria know and she will keep you informed as to progress: office@vanguardconsult.co.uk

Beyond Budgeting

We are proud to have been appointed as the UK partner for the Beyond Budgeting Round Table. I have written a position paper outlining the work we intend to do in this collaboration:

The Vanguard Method and Beyond Budgeting

We will be organising an event on Beyond Budgeting later in the year.

Want to join us?

We are seeking trainee / junior consultants (up to £35k).

The Vanguard Consultant Development program has been set up to meet the growing demand for expertise in the Vanguard Method in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
We are looking to recruit people currently working as junior managers in private sector service organisations or junior consultants in consulting firms.

You will be someone who has become disillusioned by the failure of the traditional approaches to management you are expected to follow, or by the inability of traditional methods of change promulgated by consulting firms to create any significant sustainable improvements.

Following initial training in the fundamentals of the Vanguard Method, successful candidates will work under the guidance of a Client Lead to learn how to apply the method in operational situations.

You will be expected to undertake extended assignments in any of the countries where Vanguard operates.

If you are interested please send your CV and a note explaining why you want to join us to office@vanguardconsult.co.uk.

More Vanguard events

John Seddon’s Masterclass May 17th, Buckingham University.

This event has sold out. If you would like an in-house Masterclass please get in touch.


The next action-learning programmes will be held in Birmingham (beginning in July, then another in September) and Cardiff (beginning in September). For more information:

One-day introduction to the Vanguard Method

The next is in Cardiff in November. For more information: