1st Edition

Freedom from Command and Control Rethinking Management for Lean Service

By John Seddon Copyright 2005
    256 Pages
    by Productivity Press

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    "Command and Control is failing us. There is a better way to design and manage work - a better way to make work work - but it remains unknown to the vast majority of managers."

    An adherent of the Toyota Production System, John Seddon explains how traditional top-down decision making within service organizations leads to managers who are detached from employees and remote from operations. He demonstrates that decision-making based on purpose-related measures (such as putting customers first and improving services) can help managers reconnect with operations, see waste, and exploit opportunities for improvement. Through extensive case material, he differentiates between command and control and systems thinking and illustrates how the latter leads to improved service, revenues, and staff morale. He also posits that the service industry is fundamentally different from manufacturing, and shows how Toyota production principles must be transformed for application in service organizations.

    Introduction: There Is a Better Way
    Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time in Manufacturing
    Chapter 2: The Customer Service Center as a System
    Chapter 3: Redefining the Purpose, Measures, and Method of Work
    Chapter 4: Better Measures, Better Thinking
    Chapter 5: The 'Break-Fix' Archetype
    Chapter 6: Learning to See, Learning to Lead
    Chapter 7: Customers - People Who Can Pull You Away from the Competition
    Chapter 8: Do These Hold Water?
    Chapter 9: Watch Out for the Toolheads
    Conclusion: Revisiting Taylorism
    Appendix: The Better Way to Improve Public Services
    Further Reading
    About the Author


    John Seddon

    "John Seddon describes the real world. In the real world people make the work work - if managers know how to let them."
    --Alan Hughes, Chief Executive,, First Direct, June 2005

    "John Seddon has spent a lifetime developing ways of improving service organizations and service centers in particular. Anyone in the service business would learn a lot from reading this book."
    --Daniel T Jones, Lean Enterprise Academy,, co-author, "The Machine that Changed the World", June 2005

    "Successive governments have sought improvements to public services through a mixture of Whitehall designed carrots and sticks. The approach isn't working. There is a better way. John Seddon's description is clear and practical. Essential reading for public service managers who are willing to change the way they think."
    --Peter Stott, Managing Director, Home Housing Association, June 2005

    "As a public sector practitioner I found John Seddon's book a beacon of sanity in the increasingly insane world of targets, Best Value Performance Indicators, league [i.e., ranking] tables and inspection regimes. Not only is his approach intellectually stimulating - it works! Improved performance across my organization is a testament to its effectiveness."
    --David Weatherley, Chief Executive,, Tamworth Borough Council, June 2005

    "Command and Control is clearly becoming a redundant way of working for many enterprises. It is no longer a satisfactory method of continually driving performance and making an impact as a modern manager in the longer term. People should be the drivers, adaptive to change in order to improve performance, building quality in and around delivery of service. It is a clear question of adding value to an organization and delivery to its customers rather than simply being managed by numbers. This book challenges the reader to examine their approaches to management."
    --Nick Tofiluk, Assistant Chief Constable, West Midlands Police, June 2005

    "Organizations knowing the cost of everything and the customer value of nothing will not survive. John Seddon has thrown a lifeline to those who are inspired enough to seize it."
    --Stephen Parry, Head Of Strategy And Change, Fujitsu Services, June 2005

    "Seldom in our lifetimes does a person advocate a journey that only promises the opportunity to feel completely and utterly uncomfortable and wrong. Destroying the working paradigm takes a massive act of conviction from management, admitting that you have been wrong (for years) takes an equally massive act of bravery. Putting the two together feels fundamentally insane but to create real moments of change in today's business world takes leaps of faith. In this book John Seddon provides a key to the wise and the brave that can unlock their people, their customers and their profits. Do you have the faith, bravery and conviction to use it?"
    --Bruce MacLellan, Director, Customer Contact, Capital One, June 2005