John Seddon: Starting ‘change’ by ‘studying’ isn’t sexy but it’s right!

John Seddon starts the Vanguard “Systems Thinking: The Leaders’ Summit”:

“It’s not very sexy to say we’ll start change by studying.  Managers like to do something, let’s start and do our ‘programs of change’.  ‘Let’s study’ is also rude because it implies we don’t know what’s going on. Deming used to say managers knew everything except how to improve.  He said you need help from outside, but really you need to have a different way of seeing and studying.”

There were some interesting discussions in the taxi about people being worried about this being an ‘evangelical event’ and that many of the videos of ‘success stories’ on Systems Thinking Review had people speaking about ‘how I was blind, but now I can see’.  It’s an interesting dilemma; if the results are counter-intuitive and people do go through a learning loop that feels like they can now ‘see’ how can you describe this to others without being evangelical? Also, how would you present this in a way that was vigilant against it becoming religious/evangelical?






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