Vanguard method

I am often asked about the work of John Seddon whom I refer to in a number of articles. He is a mainstream management thinker, in the sense that he works with mainstream businesses in commerce, services and public service.

He is very interested in intervention theory and method, how to change an organisation and enable it to be changed and more effective. His interests are Psychology and Systems Thinking. He has learned over his professional lifetime that you have to change the system to change people’s behaviour, you do not work on the people or try to drive a ‘culture change’. He has worked in Europe and Africa. He is humble enough to admit that much of what he was taught to tell people in the past was ineffective and unhelpful. These are important

This is a short video which gives you an insight into his work. You can also pick out various books that John has written over the past 25 years. My own learning has run across the same period. I remember speaking to John after a conference presentation that I made during my own PhD studies in the early 1990s. Whilst John talks about big businesses and the initiatives seen in corporate life, which may be unfamiliar to most of us in the world of conservation, he does start to unpick flaws in conventional management thinking. These are all important lessons for conservation leaders.

While you may not want to read the detail in John’s own books, the ideas of systems thinking are being explained in a growing number of articles in the conservation literature.


Black S.A. and Copsey J.A. (2014) Purpose, processes, knowledge and dignity are missing links in interdisciplinary projects. Conservation Biology 28 (5): 1139-1141 DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12344

Black S. A., Groombridge J.J. and Jones C. (2013) Using better management thinking to improve conservation effectiveness, ISRN Biodiversity. Volume 2013, Article ID 784701.

Black S.A. and Leslie S.C. (2018) Understanding impact of mitigation action through waterway control systems on manatee deaths in Florida. Int j Avian & Wildlife Biology 3 (5): 386-390.

Black S.A. and Copsey J.A. (2014) Does Deming’s ‘System of Profound Knowledge’ Apply to Leaders of Biodiversity Conservation? Open Journal of Leadership 3(2) 53-65. DOI: 10.4236/ojl.2014.32006

Black S. A., Groombridge J.J. and Jones C. (2011) Leadership and conservation effectiveness: finding a better way to lead, Conservation Letters 4 (5): 329-339. DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2011.00184.x


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