A Message from the President

In the early 80s I read a book called The Reckoning, by David Halberstam. The book was about the demise of Ford Motor Company and the rise of Datsun (now Nissan) in the 1970s. In this book there was a chapter devoted to W. Edwards Deming (a US citizen) and his role in the rise of Nissan. This book changed my career and outlook. Within a couple of years I attended Dr. Deming’s famous four-day seminars, read his book Out of the Crisis and rethought what I had been taught in my MBA program about management and quality.

In 1994, I started my consulting company, Bryce Harrison, Inc., to work with the service industry using Dr. Deming’s 14 points and Seven Deadly Diseases and his System of Profound Knowledge as my base. At the time, we would call the transformation process Continual Improvement. A transformation it was. We would take organizations through a 24-month process of Aim development, structure building, tools and philosophy in working with a variety of organizations within the service industry representing both private and public sectors.

Along came Six Sigma and Lean and I was swept up (mostly by customer demand) into learning these disciplines by getting my Six Sigma Black Belt and Master Black Belt, then becoming a Lean practitioner. I unwittingly moved further and further away from the basic teachings of W. Edwards Deming. I was helping organizations at the process level to improve things, but not changing the way management managed.

I had the fortune of reading Freedom from Command and Control, by John Seddon. This book put the pieces together for me. I always knew that in order to improve performance, an organization had to change its system. Where I had failed was to change the thinking and more importantly . . . the management thinking. 

Mr. Seddon has put together an organization (UK based – Vanguard Consulting Ltd.) and a method (called the Vanguard Method©) for working with service organizations (public and private). The model is a combination of the teachings of Deming, Taiichi Ohno (father of “lean”) and intervention theory. In Mr. Seddon’s words, “It is a better way to make the work work.” He has branded this as Systems Thinking and has successfully implemented this method all over Europe in public and private service industries. I am grateful to Mr. Seddon, Mr. Barry Wrighton and others at Vanguard Consulting Ltd. for their support and openness in sharing this methodology.

The aim of this website is to bring this thinking to the United States by making available a resource to educate service organizations on a better way to manage and make the work work by using the Vanguard Method©. You will find many paradoxical thoughts on this site that will challenge your current beliefs and assumptions. These thoughts are counter-intuitive to the beliefs and assumptions that Americans make about management, workers, outsourcing, shared services, targets, budgets, technology, programs of change, improvement tools, standardization, ISO 9000 and many more items learned through the teachings of Deming, Ohno and from practical application and interventions with organizations. Want to learn more? Read on and find out. You will have the option of reading articles, ordering books, subscribing to newsletters, attending seminars and workshops and obtaining support for you and/or your organization. The free download (The Vanguard Guide to Understanding your Organization as a System) has been modified for the U.S. audience and is full of useful learning material and exercises.

I am always open to feedback on this website and this approach. I hope that you too will find value in the Vanguard Method© and a Systems Thinking perspective.

Kindest Regards,
Tripp Babbitt

[email protected]

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