Saturday, January 21, 2012

From Lean Service to Systems Thinking to Vanguard Method

Ah, it's the monthly arrival of Tripp Babbitt's email newsletter. His "December," er January, newsletter arrived today.

Just as John Seddon and company bailed out on the term "Lean Service," they have now walked away from the term "Systems Thinking." They used to embrace the term Lean, before they decided that they had to smear the rest of the Lean community to differentiate their dear leader and "his" method (a warmed over version of Lean, as it is).

He writes:
"Systems thinking" has now become a phrase associated with copying and those that believe they too can be just like Vanguard.  So, we abandon "systems thinking" in favor of the Vanguard Method (tVM).   
Why the change?  Recently, I ran into some folks claiming systems thinking.  When I looked at what they had done, it was process improvement.  
Ironically, there are many in the real "Systems Thinking" academic field and professional community who blast Seddon and company as being pretenders, that it wasn't real Systems Thinking and that, as Seddon admitted, it was just Lean that they were doing anyway.

Everyone will be better off with them calling it "Vanguard Method," but it's comical that Tripp says they are bailing on Systems Thinking, when the Systems Thinking community bailed on them a long time ago (and never welcomed them, frankly).


  1. Trippster wrote:

    "Recently, I ran into some folks claiming systems thinking. When I looked at what they had done, it was process improvement."

    Pot calling kettle black.

  2. This blog is a sham. Seddon does not have all the answers. But the corporate world of command and control is obviously scared by what he's saying. Listen to the workers, listen to the customers, is the gist of it. Don't see how anyone can disagree with that. But you will. I am not a blind disciple of Seddon. But you will say I am. You have to. One day you might get it. Human beings are not the enemy. Steve.

  3. Steve - the point of this blog is to turn Seddon's tactics on himself. He does nothing but paint "other humans" as the enemy. Case in point, his latest email screed. He diminishes the Prime Minister by calling him "Dave." He rips and insults Zoe Radnor and John Shook. His "Vanguard Method" is a cult of personality around John Seddon.

    There's nothing wrong with "listen to the workers, listen to the customers."

    The criticism here is not about the "Vanguard method" but about Seddon's childish behavior.

  4. I don't know about Shook but Zoe Radnor told HMRC that their lean pacesetter programme was working fine. The command and control version of lean resulted in the lowest morale in the civil service, strikes by worn out staff, revolving door executives and a department in tatters. Hmmm.

    1. What does Zoe Radnor and her approach to Lean have to do with any of this? Lean isn't supposed to be command and control.

  5. Lean IS command and control in HMRC and Zoe Radnor gave it her approval. But you say lean is not (or should not be) command and control. Doesn't that throw doubt onto her authority? Was she just brought in by HMRC to give them the answer they wanted?

    Anyway this theoretical analysis and debate is by the by. Some employers in the real world use lean methods as command and control (do this, do that, put your pen here, hang your coat there, NOT there, work harder and faster or you're sacked).

    Zoe Radnor supported that.

    1. You should start a blog about Zoe Radnor then.

  6. Thank goodness for the seddonistas. The counterintuitive view is a blessing and regardless of all this trivia, has much to commend it and especially for education.