Vanguard Method

Developed by John Seddon, Vanguard is one of the service organization development methods based on systems thinking. The method has been utilized for many years to enhance the service quality of organizations and lessen costs.

What is the Vanguard Method?

The Vanguard Method combines system thinking and inventory theory. The method was been influenced by Taiichi Ohno, William E. Deming, and Chris Argyris, among others. The method highlights that the way of thinking of top management determines the qualities and structure of the system that then identify the capability of the system.

Further, the Vanguard Method makes use of iterative Check-Plan-Do model to enhance organizational competence. Change is initiated through observing the current organization from systems thinking perspective.

  • Identify the purpose of the system from the customer perspective
  • Study the nature of demand coming to the system
  • Understand how the system reacts to the demands
  • Learn why this happens
  • Determine what measures or policies cause issues in the flow of work
  • Acknowledge the thinking behind the management and design of the system

When the knowledge of the existing organization grows and the reasons why the organization operates in a particular way are understood, it’s simple to change one’s own way of management and thinking practices.

Better Information Systems Investment

Also, the Vanguard Method is also utilized to enhance investment benefits of the organization in information systems. In case you didn’t know yet, information system investments are sometimes made with local needs in mind, or to improve inefficiently or from the perspective useless business processes of the customer. Through this, organizations could end up with lots of separate information systems, which are costly and complicated to integrate.

In such cases, the scenario is often made worse through trying to find a technological solution, for instance, by defining enterprise architectures or developing integration strategies. The result is that the organization is constrained by the information systems. Further, this influences the ability of the organization as well as the quality of the services it offers.

Steers Towards Rational Process Development

On the other hand, systems thinking has proved to be helpful in the process development, for instance in the implementation of the agile methods. As an alternative of doing stuff the right way in particular parts of the system, it steers towards doing the proper things within the entire system.

Theory of Variation is one of the main tools for the process development in systems thinking that aids understanding the natural variation in capability across the organization. The theory of variation includes the following:

  • We must expect things to differ, they always do
  • Understanding variation will tell you what to expect
  • Understand the variation results to improvement, it results to work on the causes of the variation that are found within the system
  • Understanding variation tells you if something has occurred.

The main message in systems thinking is that the system isn’t changed until there’s enough knowledge regarding the qualities of the system, and how it works.

— Slimane Zouggari