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John Seddon


John Seddon is a British occupational psychologist and "management guru", specialising in the service industry. He is lead consultant of Vanguard, a consultancy company he formed in 1985.

Management Consultancy

Seddon has grown to prominence as a management consultant following attacks on current British management thinking, such as the NHS modernisation agenda and ISO9000.[2] The Daily Telegraph described him as a "reluctant management guru", with a background in clinical psychology.[3] He is known for adapting the Toyota Production System and the work of W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno into a methodology for improving performance in service industries. He describes Deming's and Ohno's work as "systems thinking", as opposed to the top-down rigid "management thinking" (or "Command and Control" thinking) that predominates most service industries today. He is particularly critical of target-based management, and of basing decisions on economies of scale, rather than "economies of flow".

John Seddon has published four books. A website that reviews management books described Seddon's work, Freedom from Command and Control, as an important read for service industry professionals, labelling it "convincing" and "valuable", but criticised it for being "dense, sometimes repetitive, and inherently self-promotional".[5] In his 2008 book, Systems Thinking in the Public Sector, he provided a fundamental criticism of the UK Government reform programme and advocated its replacement by systems thinking.

The Times described Seddon as a management consultant, but unlike most "should not be dismissed as another consultant with a product to sell" due to a "high standing in the sector". It called to attention Seddon's disdain for the Audit Commission's council star ratings system; he points out that "Haringey Council was rated 4-star at the time of Victoria ClimbiƩ and Baby P's deaths".


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