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Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work [Paperback]

John Seddon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2003
This is a management book that challenges convention and aims to appeal to a wide target audience. Seddon argues that while many commentators acknowledge command and control is failing us, no one provides an alternative. His contention is the alternative can only be understood when you see the failings of command and control by taking the better - systems - view. There is little in the book that you would find in a normal management curriculum. Seddon is scathing and controversial about leadership theorists, maintaining that leadership is being able to talk about how the work works with the people who do it. The book provides practical advice and examples of how to put this into place. Packed with illustrations of the unintended consequences of command and control thinking, you will be amazed that management of our organizations should be so appalling. You will see how customer service is poor and carries high costs and that changing the way the work is designed and managed will result in lower costs and better service. But, as Seddon points out, these are things managers cannot "see" from their current position. Managers don't know what they don't know. Seddon's case is that taking this view teaches managers to change their thinking, and he shows how the very observations they make when understanding what he calls "the what and why of current performance as a system" become the building blocks of the systems solution. And also illustrates the solutions for the cases he uses.

Frequently Bought Together

Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work + I Want You to Cheat!: The Unreasonable Guide to Service and Quality in Organisations + Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The Failure of the Reform Regime... and a Manifesto for a Better Way
Price For All Three: 47.12

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Consulting Ltd (1 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954618300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954618308
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring - if a little heavy in places 18 Jun 2009
By Mr. Ross Maynard VINE VOICE
In "Freedom from Command and Control" John Sneddon provides an excellent analysis of the error of target-driven business management. His main proposition is that "targets" drive bureaucracy and sub-optimal behaviours. His argument being that we should measure and manage the capability of work processes and work together to improve those processes, rather than judge people on results - which are often simply the result of variations in the process and lead to a decline in morale. Essentially Mr Sneddon is talking about applying the "lean" philosophy to processes - particularly service processes - though he hardly mentions the word "lean" in the book (possibly to avoid bamboozling readers; and certainly to avoid accusations is he jumping on a bandwagon: he uses the book to give other "buzzwords" - ISO9000, IIP Chartermark, TQM etc - short shrift). He makes his point very well, though he does labour it somewhat; and I feel he doesn't really offer many alternative measures (of process performance) to counteract the tendency to focus on results. He also uses one of the final chapters in the book to sell his own consultancy somewhat annoyingly. In addition, I feel his criticism of ISO9000, IIP and other approaches is a little harsh. His comments about them not explicitly focussing on processes that create customer value is true enough, but the examples he gives are extreme cases. Most organisations enter these schemes with an honest desire to improve (rather than cheat the system); they just lack awareness of how best to identify value adding processes. Nevertheless, I recommend this book to anyone considering how to establish performance measures in their business; or wondering why results based measures are actually causing problems of conflict, poor morale, and declining service.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
You have got to read this book.
I have always been cynical about any improvement method (BPR etc.) and management fads that espouse miracle cures and yet offer very little in practical terms, i.e. what do I do tomorrow and how ?
I got introduced to John and the work of Vanguard by a friend a few years back. Through studying the method all of a sudden my angst about the teachings I had at university and the management approach in industry that just didn't feel right connected- there is a better way. It connected into a method that actually does work and does not undermine the purpose of a business, to keep customers and make money.
The method exemplified in this book is down to earth, practical and grounded in a proven theory. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give it, is that it teaches you how to 'see' from a perspective that will shock you yet motivate you to improve your work design. By improving your work design you please your customers, your staff morale goes up because they feel that they are making a difference and guess what you will please yourself because your profits will go up as you eradicate waste out of your work design
The book sets out this method in a readable, accessible style and is littered with genuine examples that enable you to 'see' how it can work for you. You will not get all the answers from the book, this is not what is about - a good method does not give you the answers (how could it, without application to your system ?) it invites you to study your own system and make improvements on the back of your findings
If you want a book that will motivate you to get reconnected with your customers, create value for them and improve your staff morale and profits - BUY THIS NOW !
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If you work in the financial services sector and you want to change your business processes for the better, look no further than this book. In my 30 years of insurance broking, I have been throughout many operational, process and technology changes, almost none of which have fully delivered their intended benefits. I lived through working with John Seddon's team at Vanguard on implementing change using the approach in this book and it works like nothing else. It is truly empowering to those who do the work to change it for the better. For those managers who revel in being all knowing and directing everyone, however, here comes the revolution !
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Some good concepts but very much a marketing exercise for the authors firm. And he has a lot of negativity for 6 Sigma and lean despite the fact that these are effective improvement techniques in their own right. There are no panaceas. Right tool for the job. This is another tool to have in your toolbox.
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An eye opening take on how to use TPS in the service sector and how to avoid using measures as targets. Brings to life how we should move away from top down and specialist function. This is for people who want to really deliver sustainable change that saves money and improves customer service.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 Sep 2005
Should be read by all those who believe the only way to manage is by using targets, targets and more targets. Eye opening - shows that there are better ways.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best 23 Sep 2004
Chapter 6 -- Learning to see, learning to read is worth the price of the book by itself. This is one of the most clear and useful descriptions of how management must transform that I have ever read.
Nice work John Seddon!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the point
Another thoughtful book from John Seddon.

He wastes no time getting to the point about the waste of current culture and the benefits of 'breaking free' and satisfying... Read more
Published on 13 May 2012 by Tony Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense I'n'it
This book illustrates the differences between command and control and the systems approach very well, if you have experience of the 'Toyota approach' and are interested in learning... Read more
Published on 4 May 2012 by Robert
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid ideas for business performance improvement
This book has the subtitle "A better way to make the work work". It describes a way of improving performance of service-based organisations. Read more
Published on 5 April 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll understand why brainless targets are killing the NHS
Excellent, clear thinking stuff that you can actually use to do things differently and better at work. I really think this isn't just another forgettable tool. Read more
Published on 21 Dec 2011 by Claybrooke
5.0 out of 5 stars If you set targets that's all you'll ever get
Harry S Truman is cited as saying "If you set targets, that's all you'll ever get!"
By this it is meant that if you set targets those targets will become the prime and sole... Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2010 by N. J. Willetts
5.0 out of 5 stars Best management book I read in years.
This is not the typical book about how to use a tool, technique, etc. to manage better. It is actually quite the opposite. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2010 by M. Ectors
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance
I have read many management books, but this is by far the best. Easy to read and completley common sense, something that is often overlooked. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2009 by Mr. Nicholas Lund
4.0 out of 5 stars edward
The sort of book it would be useful for service industry mangers (bank or prehaps i dont know civil servants etc)

A good book to explain TMS for service industry (what... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2009 by edward
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