Vanguard Method

Published on Jiffle Development Blog
at http://localhost:4000/blog/2017/02/11/vanguard-method/

Posted on February 11, 2017

The Vanguard Method

Comparing processes


  1. Check: get knowledge
  2. Plan: plan service design
  3. Do: execute the plan


  1. Check: Find out where you are
  2. Advance: Execute small step towards your goal
  3. Adjust: Adjust your understanding based on what you learned


  1. Build: Create something
  2. Measure: get knowledge from what you’ve created
  3. Learn: Assess and build new plan

Vanguard 1 ~= Agile 3 ~= Lean 2

Vanguard 2 ~= Agile 1 ~= Lean 3

Vanguard 3 ~= Agile 2 ~= Lean 1

About the method

Vanguard Method helps managers of Service Organisations unlearn current conventions and learn to manage the organisations as systems.

Systems govern people’s behaviour. Organised by functions - each function has own budget and target

Serving customers is a cross-functional activity, not naturally compatible with functional approach. System governs behaviour together and to customers

First understand how companies work. Management instead focuses on what they do. Demming - Out of the Crisis: We created management, so we can change it Requires unlearning as well as learning Current management behaviours make things worse. Understanding companies as systems. Targets make performance worse. Studying current situation shows what’s possible.

Thinking –> System –> Performance

Japanese leader Reasons for failure lies within yourselves Managament get ideas out of the heads of bosses and into the heads of workers Business too complex and unpredictable requires continuous mobilisation of intelligence. Division of labour problem is the separation of decision-making from work Functional-based heirarchies are problem People make the difference, control restrict what we can do. Thinking –> Work –> Results we get

Starts with performance –> why we get that –> thinking is driving system.

  • Performance only from customer’s point of view
  • Study how system works (or otherwise) to drive performance
  • Address thinking problems that drives the system behaviour

Redesign thinking –> different system –> different performance

Change is Emergent

Mgrs think change requires a plan: As is –> to be –> Route Cost-benefit, business case, milestones, interdependencies: good project management. Moving on before plans complete. Plans fail. No plan. Only plan is to gain knowledge. About performance as a system. Knowledge antidote to risk. Studying doesn’t seem like action, but Profound change can be quick. Studying –> knowledge –> informed choice –> profound results Adaptive organisation design, changes to meet customer demand. Change/improvement is emergent, it achieves results that never would have put in conventional plan.

Changing Thinking

Normative process - not a rational process. 95% is the system. 5% people. Counterintuitive truths.

Vanguard Method

Check Failure demand Value demand

Some customer demand and build a prototype - roll in (not roll out)

Systems Thinking tVM

Many systems thinkers: Purpose. Whole. Parts. Relationships between whole and parts.

Purpose: Help command and control managers of service organisation change thinking about design and management of service.

Organisation design on systems principles.



Change fails

  • System governs performance, not individual
  • Training and tools. Used to solve problems managers think they have.
  • Compare to models. No empirical evidence for the models. Plausible ideas. Do not generate knowledge about the what/why of performance. Prevent development of knowledge.

Thinking Things

Traditions to be questioned

  • Hierarchy === Knowledge
  • Controls give control (budgets and behaviours)

Counterintuitive truths

  • Things you learn when studying organisations as systems.