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Freedom from Command and Control: Rethinking Management for Lean Service Hardcover – 12 Aug 2005


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas J. R. Dougan VINE VOICE on 31 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Seddon does not like "management fads" like IiP, Charter Marks, CRM, TQM, BPR, EFQM or Six Sigma, and he especially does not like ISO 9000. He is not particularly keen on the "toolheads" who promote stand-alone techniques derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS), aka "lean" manufacturing. He is damning about the government's application of target-based systems on the public services, and devotes an appendix to that aspect. Applying tools without really thinking through the problem, he says, is almost invariably counterproductive.

Seddon has built a career applying the philosophy of the TPS to service organisations. He venerates Taiichi Ohno, the man who, above all, created and developed TPS, and the storey is littered with references to what Ohno said and did. Much of the manufacturing detail of car manufacture is not applicable to service organisations, however, so Seddon has attempted to think things through from first principles. I came across reference to Seddon's work in his distinguishing of "failure demand" from "value demand". Failure demand is demand that only exists because initial demand was not satisfied properly. It includes, e.g., the 40% of calls that some call centres receive chasing up enquiries made earlier and any work to correct earlier work that was not done properly. As one of the key aims of "lean" is to eliminate waste, failure demand represents a first and obvious type of waste in service organisations. Seddon demonstrates, however, that by treating failure and value demand alike in statistical analysis, failure demand can help give a quite false impression of greater productivity. This merely reinforces the need to look in, from the customer's perspective, and ask what he or she might think of the service.
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Format: Hardcover
Rather than try to summarise Seddon's book, here is one of the lessons that I learnt from this book.

Service businesses have increasingly moved towards fragmenting their processes into individual tasks so that they can be done very efficiently by people with low skills who are doing only a small number of tasks. This reduces cost, but de-skills the process. Each task fragment can be measured and targets set. However, Seddon gives a number of examples of where fragmented tasks and their associated targets give rise to problems. For example, one fragmented task might be to answer incoming telephone calls. This is a simple task, so might be given a target that all calls are picked up within, say, 5 seconds. In order to meet the target, he has found examples of calls being dumped - picked up and then put down again - to ensure that the target is met. The caller has to call again, leading to 'failure demand' - where the task has to be done again because it was not done properly the first time. He emphasises the importance of measuring processes end-to-end, because that is what the customer is actually interested in.

This book is most applicable to larger service companies who might have a call centre, or to public service organisations who deliver services on a fairly large scale. I think that this book is definitely worth reading if you are involved in management of such businesses.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who has worked in an operational role will understand the evolving nature of management fads; each contains a fascinating truth but is fundamentally flawed. So the fad evolves and a new truth evolves until it is critiqued and fades in turn.
So after work study, BPR, JIT, TQM, Lean we arrive at systems thinking. This is essentially based on Ohno's and Deming's research but adapted for Service.
The system will dictate outcome and therefore we should focus on the system. The system should be designed from a customer perspective and absorb the variety of different CUSTOMER demand. Finally management should focus on improving the system and this can only occur if they reconnect with the work rather than sit in offices remote from the opearations.
Manufacturing is about uniformity, Service is about variety Seddon argues and in this argument lies the distinction. In my opinion this is a seminal piece of work and will be regarded as highly as Deming or Ohno in time.
There will be a shift and through dialectics management will arrive at the same conclusion as Deming, Ohno and Seddon.
I would also recommend Peter Senges' work on The fifth discipline.
If Seddon's approach helps pinpoint the focus of improvement Senge helps to provide the method to solve the problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Radford on 2 Mar. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
John Seddon explains why we should all look at how our current management thinking designs work in very inefficient ways.

It is a real lightbulb read and once you get it you will never want to work in the old ways again.
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