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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 January 2015
this book is changing my life!
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on 4 May 2012
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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on 5 April 2012
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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on 13 May 2012
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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on 21 December 2011
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. It has changed my thinking in a radical way about the whole way we organise work. It has also made me able to explain why Tony Blair's obsession with targets has been so destructive...and I voted for him.
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on 21 February 2010
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 objective of the efforts of those charged and EVERYTHING ELSE GOES OUT THE WINDOW!
This book goes about showing the reality of this type of sentiment and shows another way of doing it.
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on 13 February 2010
This is not the typical book about how to use a tool, technique, etc. to manage better. It is actually quite the opposite. It is provocative and wants you to draw conclusions about the errors you have been making during years. If you are not afraid to read a book that is controversial to say the least, this is your book...
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on 3 August 2014
This book is nothing more than a plagiarism of existing improvement frameworks, offering nothing different but a name badge change.

The only reason I've given it 2 stars is because the stuff in it makes sense...But let's not pretend this is the the new methodology that will change your life.
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on 1 December 2009
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. If you have read any Deming, Ohno and Shewhart, this follows on from their work brilliantly.
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on 18 March 2009
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 says on tin). With some TMS books takes a bit of imagination to think how the concepts can be applied to other buiness "we dont make cars here". This book is good that the lesser person with no imagination should be able to access.
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