Beyond Command and Control – John Seddon Book Summary

Beyond Command and Control – John Seddon | Free Book Summary

Beyond Command and Control – John Seddon

Beyond Command and Control is a book written by John Seddon. It was published on October 1, 2019. The book offers solutions to the UK productivity conundrum and is about business transformation and efficiency. The book received positive reviews and is considered to be one of the first books that can really bring about significant improvement in this field.

The book is aimed at solving the UK productivity crisis and improving organizational performance. It offers a new perspective on management, organizational design, and leadership and is based on John Seddon’s research and experience in the field.

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Optimize Organizational Performance

To optimise organisational performance you need to focus on three things:

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  1. Knowledge of customer demand
  2. Appreciation of what constitutes the value work, what matters to the customers
  3. Understanding how to measure the system’s achievement of purpose in customer terms

Customer Pain

Managers must experience the customer’s pain firsthand in order for the system to change. Meaningful change will not happen if customer pain and innovations are presented in their offices. Managers must “get out of their chairs” and spend a significant amount of time with customers.

It is only through feeling the emotion of customer pain that managers will be inspired to make a change. Studying the system is a vital first step.

Two key measures:

  • Capacity: the volume of demands we can service
  • Capability: How well we do them is measured in terms that matter to customers. Timeliness, right first time etc.

Learning how to see is a critical skill management need to learn

Learning To See

Leaders often copy what they see from other organizations after going on “digital safaris”. These run traps of leaders assuming what they see are the ingredients for success rather than the hidden parts of the system

  • Even successful change can be quickly undone
  • Everything you need to know is there in your own system. if you have eyes to see it.
  • Learning how to see is a critical skill management need to learn
  • Empowerment is a command or control term, i.e., the boss empowers you, the subordinate.

Command and control definition

  • A top-down perspective, in which work is divided into functional specialisms
  • Decision making is separated from the work
  • Measures in use are related to the budget and worker activity

Error is assuming the problem with command and control is about bosses being bossy. The problem is control measures.

Bosses are bossy about the wrong things!

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