May 19, 2013
By Jamshid Gharajedaghi
During the last 50 years, our worldview has gone though a profound transformation in two critical dimensions.
There has been a shift in our way of knowing from analytical thinking, the science of dealing with independent sets of variables, to systems thinking, the art, and science of handling interdependent set of variables. There has also been a fundamental shift in our understanding of the nature of social systems from a mindless mechanical system to a purposeful socio-cultural system.
Unfortunately, despite all of the rhetoric to the contrary, our newfound insights have had little influence on our choices. A dominant analytical culture, with a scientific tag, has kept reproducing the same set of non-solutions all over again. Effective use of these discriminating conceptions requires both a clear understanding of the operating principles of socio-cultural systems and unambiguous recognition of the emerging challenge of handling interdependent variables.
This paper will try only to shed some light on the latter of the two dimensions, the nature and the behavior of socio-cultural systems.
To read more click here: Download Gharajedaghi Sociocultural systems revised 1-23-12 with edits
May 01, 2013
TYPES OF SYSTEMS
There are four basic types of system depending on whether the parts and the whole can display choice, and therefore, be purposeful.
|Type of System Model||Parts||Whole||Example|
|Mechanistic||No choice||No choice||Machines|
April 19, 2013
The International Society for the Systems Sciences Conference
July 2013 will be an exciting time in the history of the International Society for the Systems Sciences.
We warmly invite you to join us in a unique experience that will contribute significantly to making systems thinking more mainstream. The 57th Annual ISSS World Conference - Curating the Conditions for a Thrivable Planet: Systemic Leverage Points for Emerging a Global Eco-Civilization, Hai Phong City, Viet Nam — 14-19 July 2013, will provide you with an opportunity to contribute to a showcase of advances in systemic sustainability initiatives from around the world with hands-on experience in the UNESCO Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve and at Hai Phong City, the first city in the world to be managed using an integral systems approach.
The Conference Committee invites contributions from systems scholars and professionals — whether in the academic world, industry/commerce or professional practice — to engage with one another, to create a space where systems theory/modeling/simulation meets systems practice/living/being, to co-create a living network of institutions and individuals learning together how thrivability frameworks and practices help humanity tackle real world complex problems.
February 08, 2013
Ackoff at UNAM -- The National Autonomous University of Mexico
Javier Livas kindly shared the video that he took from the talk given by late Russell Ackoff at the conference on "Participation and Development: The Mexico of the Future." The conference was in Mexico City: Celebrating Russell L. Ackoff’s 87th Anniversary, February 14 – 15, 2006.
Russ Ackoff had a long history of collaboration with Mexican scholars and professionals since the early 60’s. His planning methodology has been put into practice in several instances along a variety of institutions and corporations. All of the projects he has been involved in are unmistakably geared towards development with emphasis in stakeholder participation. His books in systems thinking, organizational design, development and other topics are widely used in Mexican universities. Many Mexican students as well as professionals have benefited from his thought by directly interacting with him as graduate students, in seminars, consulting or through personal communication.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) through the Institutes of Applied Mathematics and Systems (IIMAS), Engineering (II) and The School of Engineering (FI) organized the Symposium honoring Dr. Ackoff, focused on participation, development and the Mexico of the future.
To watch the video, click on the following link: ACKOFF AT UNAM
December 20, 2012
Audi announces new design strategy
In discussing Audi’s new cooperative vehicle design approach, Achim Badstübner , head of exterior design identified a critical challenge faced by any organization attempting improve the manner in which they consider product development in a more holistic manner, that is “...to break down the culture of individual authorship and encourage cooperation...You have to be an expert and there is an advantage in digging deep, to really know every screw, every system and pattern for a specific thing, because you have all of the information at the point where you need it, but it is misguided in another way. If you dig too deep, it's a little bit like digging a hole: you're in the hole so you can't see the world around it."
The intensity to which one group focuses on an aspect of a problem is not without merit. As Vince Barabba  points out in his new book, The Decision Loom, “Many functional managers...attempt to maintain complete control to ensure that their function is run efficiently and not influenced by outside forces.” He points out that value of the functional silos is found in their “...ability to use their resources to generate deep and valuable functional knowledge.”
The problem that needs to be avoided is to ensure that the perfect solution for a specific function does not have negative consequences for another function with which it interacts. Finding this problem has occurred after the design is put together is very costly. Barabba’s suggestion is to treat the design activity more like a molecular structure and treat the functions as molecules that interact with each other. The important distinction of the molecular metaphor is that functional cells are contained by membranes and not walls. Membranes are capable of letting information in and out. In this way the functions share information and improve the chance that their combined capabilities will create a whole that is greater than the sum of their individual expertise.
 “Audi announces new design strategy,” Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 at 5:44 pm by Rose Etherington, Dezeen Magazine, December 19, 2012
 Barabba, Vincent; The Decision Loom, Triarchy Press, Stanton, UK 2011, Pages 193-198
August 22, 2012
If Russ Ackoff had given a TED Talk...
This presentation is from a 1994 event hosted by Clare Crawford-Mason and Lloyd Dobyns to capture the Learning and Legacy of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Russ knew Dr. Deming and speaks here about the difference between "continuous improvement" and "discontinuous improvement" as seen through the lens of systems thinking.
April 28, 2012
Russell Lincoln Ackoff
By Maurice W. Kirby and Johnathan Rosenhead
A chapter from the book: Profiles in Operations Research, Pioneers and Innovators
Written, Compiled and Edited By Arjang A. Assad and Saul I. Gass
The book which is published by Springer, includes 43 profiles of who is who in OR, organized chronologically. The book exposes "the history of the origins and early development of OR, how it evolved, all interwoven with personal backgrounds, tales, vignettes, and pictures." The chapter on Ackoff is very interesting and informative. Specifically, It covers his early years including his relationship with his parents and his family as well as his education at the University of Pennsylvania.
April 05, 2012
The Ackoff Centre for Systems and Design Thinking at Da Vinci Institute, South Africa
The Ackoff Centre for Systems and Design Thinking at Da Vinci Institute, Johannerburg, South Africa was launched in May 2010. The Da Vinci Institute is a school of management leadership focusing on, the Management of People, Innovation, Technology and Business. In celebration of the pioneering work in Systems and Design Thinking developed by the late Prof Russell Ackoff, Da Vinci embarked on a journey to develop an intimate working relationship with Prof Ackoff which resulted in the Design Thinking methodology offered by The Ackoff Centre for Systems and Design Thinking at Da Vinci.
February 25, 2012
International Society for the Systems Sciences Conference
A call for participation in San Jose, CA USA, July 15-20, 2012
The systems sciences provide a platform of concepts and language that enables communities of interest to transcend disciplinary boundaries towards developing new knowledge and perspectives. The ISSS 2012 theme of Service Systems, Natural Systems draws attention to complex issues in today's world, where dialogue amongst the learned may lead to better futures.
The 56th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, July 15-20 2012, at San Jose State University, California
January 25, 2012
Systems Thinking Applied to Management
After more than 15 years away from academia, Russ Ackoff returned to teach a full graduate seminar at University of Pennsylvania. In fall 2003, he taught DYNM 666: Systems Thinking Applied to Management in Organizational Dynamics graduate studies located in the Penn School of Arts and Sciences. When the course was announced the registration requests were so high that a lottery with random drawing had to be established to admit the 25 graduate students who could attend. The course ran for 3 hours per week for 12 weeks. Russ was 84 years old.
To access the lecture series, click on the following link: Fall 2003: DYNM 666 Systems Thinking Graduate Course (Prof. Ackoff)