I noticed on my WordPress dashboard today that someone had dipped into this blog to look at my post on civil service reform.

A couple of clicks and, knock me over with a feather, I found the avid follower was one John Seddon, proponent of the ‘Vanguard method’ of systems thinking.  He or his webbie-person have listed my post (approvingly) on a page on his web site entitled The Lean Toolhead Collection.  This is flagged up slightly misleadingly on the home page of his web site as

John Seddon has written extensively on the damage caused by Lean toolheads, these articles are now collected together for the first time

Yes, the page does include seven articles by the great man himself but also ten items by other people including my by now blessed post on civil service reform, not quite correctly under the sub-heading ‘In the press,’ and without any acknowledgement that it appeared on the HelpGov blog.

At the bottom of the page is the statement ‘Copyright 2012.’  Well, the Seddon articles may be his copyright but the item on civil service reform is mine.

If I sound less than wholly enthusiastic about this unexpected and unsought endorsement it’s because I happen to think Seddon is not wholly a good thing.

He has some great ideas but the adjectives ‘acerbic’ and ‘combative’ understate his essential character.

I experienced this twice.

The first was when I worked for a council.  He bid for some work we had available, didn’t get it, and within a year had characterised us on his web site as amongst those ‘toolheads,’ his favourite put down for anyone who adopts a version of lean thinking of which he doesn’t approve.  This was despite the fact that at this early stage we had published no results of what we were doing and his characterisation was wrong in a number of key respects.

The second was when I was in business for a while and had the temerity to suggest (helpfully I thought) that his company’s habit of using their Twitter feed to release all their tweets for the week on a Sunday morning in one go probably limited their impact.  Within a day or two I had been comprehensively trashed on Twitter and told I fundamentally misunderstood the concept of work ‘flow.’

Well, I’m no longer in a position to turn down any contracts he bids for or in turn bid against him for work, so I’m presumably of less interest to him now.  Except he does seem to like that blog post I wrote…thanks, John.

For reasons you might guess, I’m not desperately keen to provide a link to Seddon’s web site but I’m sure you can find it if you want.