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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 (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to improve performance - buy this now, 22 Oct 2003
By 
Nick Wood (Heckmondwike, Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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 !
Another tip - find out more about John's inspiring work and if you feel you have a commitment from your organisation to go down this path they will deliver a three day course on the principles of lean service, with a money back guarantee if you feel you have got no value out of it....now you can't ask for more than that !
p.s. I have no formal connection with John and Vanguard - even if this does sound like an advertisement (!) I am just a fan of their work and confident that this can help industry and the public sector deliver real improvement in performance
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5.0 out of 5 stars The operational bible for customer focussed operations in the financial services sector, 27 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas but basically an advert for his consultancy., 21 Mar 2014
By 
A. J. Gauld (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant insight into flow, waste and measures, 6 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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
By 
David McCabe (Glasgow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the point, 13 May 2012
By 
Tony Smith (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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 demand rather than the so called measurements of 'demand'. If you are involved in this area, this is an essential reference and starting point for the Vanguard way of thinking.

Tony Smith
[...]
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense I'n'it, 4 May 2012
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This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
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 more or reading the theory from someone elses perspective then I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Unfortunately, from reading it seems like the authour would expect that this book would be a great introduction to systems management, this really isn't the case, not enough time was taken to explain the meaning of flow, pull vs push and it seemed like if you were new to this way of thinking you'd give up or spend far too long trying to work out what the authour was reffering to.

I was hoping for a book written without the ST jargon, something that could be read by a complete beginner and maybe start to open there eyes. Unfortunately the plain English approach hasn't been taken so as it is, a good read for me but it wont win many converts.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid ideas for business performance improvement, 5 April 2012
This review is from: Freedom from Command and Control: A Better Way to Make the Work Work (Paperback)
This book has the subtitle "A better way to make the work work". It describes a way of improving performance of service-based organisations. Seddon's approach is based on the work performed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota in the 1950s. Seddon proposes that his methodology, or similar, would help improve the performance of some the UK's poorly-performing public-sector organisations.

Ohno studied American ideas of manufacturing (e.g. Henry Ford's) and applied them in his work at Toyota. He based his production lines on customer demand, rather than supplier push. He was able to reduce inventory held and speed-up production time by reducing the amount of non-value-added ("waste") work performed. This approach, also labelled "Just in Time", has recently been re-badged as "Lean", has re-ignited interest in Ohno's work. These approaches have yielded good results in manufacturing industries but have proved difficult to apply in service-based industries.

Seddon's book revisits Ohno's work and proposes modifications that focus on the solely on the improvement of service organisations. He describes conventional service organisations as having the following characteristics:
* "Command-and-control" structures, i.e. having measures and roles are aligned solely with corporate targets (such as revenue) rather than being targeted at customer service.
* The setting of targets for the organisation's staff that are mis-aligned with the customers' demand. For example, a call-centre target to maximise the number of calls per hour may give management the impression of good service. However, from a customer's point of view, a better measure would be to maximise the number of occasions where a problem was resolved to the customer's satisfaction in one call.
* A failure to examine the type of customer demand. Seddon gives an example of a call centre that was unaware that of its total calls, 40% were from customers querying their bill. Seddon identifies this as a "failure" demand, i.e. a demand resulting from a failure in the organisation's processes. When the call centre amended its billing process, the number of these "failure" calls dramatically reduced.

Seddon revisits Ohno's work and identifies that service-based organisations should be treated differently from manufacturing-based organisations:
* The idea of "inventory" is different in a service-based organisation.
* Service is not "made" by physical means.
* Service occurs at customer transaction points.
* The service agent (e.g. the call centre operator) and the customer are jointly involved in the service delivery.
* It is the customer that determines the "value" of the transaction.

Seddon offers the following approach to improve the performance of service-based organisations by understanding:
* Customer demand, in the customer's terms.
* The difference between "failure" demand and "value" demand.
* The predictability of demand.
* Once the customer demand is understood in terms above, then the organisation's services can be re-designed accordingly
* Change the organisation (mindset, measures and roles) to remove "command-and-control" thinking and replace them with those that allow the organisation to more readily deal with varying customer demand.

Seddon has criticisms of other "quality-based" tools such as ISO9000, TQM, and Six Sigma, describing these as supporting the dysfunctional aspects of organisations, rather than supporting a holistic approach to improving customer service. Seddon's message is to understand the problem within its context, rather than blindly applying a set of tools.

Seddon's book, while influenced by "Lean" thinking, draws directly on the ideas from Toyota to offer solid advice on how to improve service-based organisations - from a customers' perspective. It is an opinionated, thought-provoking read. In addition, it is an entertaining polemic on established ways of thinking.
Agile practitioners will find interesting links to agile software development techniques, such as XP and Scrum, which aim to reduce "waste" in the process of software development.
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