April 21, 2018

There Is a Difference Between Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing

Continuing to invest more time, energy, resources in trying to do things right with Abbott is going to get us more of what we’ve got

richard c. ten eyck
Rich Ten Eyck

For a while now, I've been working on a paper dealing with the relationship between the 40-plus years of work in New Jersey on the development and refinement of curriculum standards, the related investment/development of large-scale assessments, and the persistently flat (with very few exceptions) NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress ) scores over that same span of years. The data seems very clear and the conclusions obvious. If we want to significantly increase student achievement for all kids, we haven't found the correct formula.

I began this project as a result of my reflections on the time I spent serving in the New Jersey Department of Education and the place of that work in the ongoing continuing discussions about education reform.

During this same time, I found myself drawn to the story of Newark. Much like following videos on YouTube, one book led to another… each adding another dimension to the story, none painting pictures of success. I realized there was a connection between what I was reading and the work on my paper; however, identifying that connection was proving maddeningly elusive.

Recently, though, in just one week along came Ms. Laura Waters’ analysis of the Abbott decisions and, from another source, a link to an interview with Russell Ackoff, conducted before his death in 2009. As a regular reader of this site, I needed no introduction to Ms Waters. Ackoff, however, was a new name. A little research revealed that he had a long, varied, and distinguished career, including a time from 1986 until his death as professor emeritus of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

In Ackoff's interview he noted that, while we frequently used the terms synonymously, there was a growing recognition that there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness and that Peter Drucker had captured this by saying that there's a difference between “doing things right” and doing “the right thing.”

Ackoff expands by suggesting that doing things right is about efficiency but doing the right thing is about effectiveness. He makes a strong case for the connection between wisdom and doing/identifying the right things. He notes further that when we try to do things right about the wrong thing, we actually make things worse. Such attempts at improvement actually take us further from both the recognition and accomplishment of the “right thing”.

There it was.

While at the Department of Education, I was proud to work with many good people who worked very hard to do testing right. Yet at no time did we consider the possibility that we were trying to do testing right without considering seriously whether or not it was the right thing. Ten years later, there is increasing (but nonetheless largely ignored) evidence that it was not the right thing. Accompanying this evidence, is the increasing voice of those pointing out the failure of this direction on both the ‘doing things right’ and the ‘right thing’ test.

Assume for sake of discussion that Ackoff was correct when he noted that we learn more from our mistakes than by doing things right. This places us in great shape. We’ve got more than a few mistakes from which to learn. One takeaway seems to be that we can continue to try to do things right or we can invest significant human capital in the exploration and identification of the right thing.

What seems abundantly clear is this: Continuing to invest more time, energy, resources in trying to improve “doing things right” with Abbott, the 40-year cycle of revised standards and assessments, the state takeover of school districts and municipalities, and the like is going to get us more of what we’ve got. It’s time to consider that we have identified the wrong thing and our attempts to do things right are actually taking us further away from any lasting solutions and from the right thing.

There Is a Difference Between Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing

Posted by ACASA on April 21, 2018 at 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2018

An Evaluation of R.L. Ackoff’s Interactive Planning: A Case-based Approach

Darek M. Hafton, Stockholm University School of Business Stockholm Sweden

Russell L. Ackoff developed the Interactive Planning (IP) methodology as a conceptual tool to guide systematic and systemic development of organizations. One of its unique features is that such development should be ideal-oriented. IP has been well received
within the Systems Thinking community in particular; where more than 300 applications of IP are mentioned. However, it has not been easy to answer the question:‘‘does the use of IP enable that which it is proposing to enable?’’ as there have been no systematic, empirically grounded, and critically oriented, evaluations of IP. This study attempts to offer such an evaluation. In this case, IP was employed to support a comprehensive development of a Department within a company. This IP application was evaluated using a set of predefined evaluation criteria derived from the IP as such and also from its critique. The results suggest that IP is indeed a powerful methodology to guide organizational development. While IP has several positive merits, a set of limitations were
identified and serve here as a basis for deriving recommendations for the practitioners of IP and also suggestions of areas that merit further IP research.

Download Evaluation of Interactive Planning

Posted by ACASA on March 15, 2018 at 03:31 PM in Systems Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 02, 2018

System Leadership in the Face of Dynamic Change

Presentation by Banny Banerjee who is Director of Stanford ChangeLabs, and teaches Design Innovation and Strategy at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (Stanford University's d.school). His area of expertise is the use of Design Thinking for strategic initiatives and large-scale transformations directed towards sustainable futures. He founded Stanford ChangeLabs, which has ongoing research in Innovation Methodologies and transdisciplinary initiatives aimed at developing a new field: Innovation of Scaled Transformations. His research initiatives are centered on processes, paradigms, and integrated strategies to address complex challenges such as the future of water, energy, governance systems, and organizational transformations. In this presentation, Banny looks at...

1. We are entering an era marked by rapid changes and profound questions.
2. Our dominant models of leadership are ill suited for these new class of challenges.
3. System Leadership is a new approach that is a leadership style better suited to scaled and complex challenges - it has implications at personal, organizational, and policy levels.

System Leadership in the Face of Dynamic Change

Posted by ACASA on March 2, 2018 at 03:10 PM in blog post | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 25, 2018

Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowships

CALL FOR PROPOSALS – deadline: March 4, 2018

The Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship program of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center provides grants to University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. students who are pursuing research in decision making under risk and uncertainty.  The research fellowships are named in honor of an endowment provided to the Wharton School by the Anheuser-Busch Charitable Trust.  Professor Emeritus of Management Science, Russell Ackoff’s work was dedicated to furthering our understanding of human behavior in organizations.

The fellowship awards range from $1,000-$4,000.  Funds may be used for data collection, travel, and other direct research expenses (not stipend support, research assistants or computer purchases). Potential initiatives to receive funding include Insurability and Risk Management; Managing Environmental, Health and Safety Risks; Behavioral Economics; and Decision Processes.  Doctoral students throughout Penn engaged in on-going research that relates to problems in decision making under risk and uncertainty are encouraged to apply.  To apply:  Applications must include a proposal and Ackoff_application-form-2018.

Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowships

 

Posted by ACASA on February 25, 2018 at 05:54 PM in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 22, 2018

ACKOFF TAPE # 1

This is the first of eight segments recorded over two days at a Naval Training Facility in the 80's. In the first segment Russell Ackoff walks us though the progression of system science from mechanical, to organic, to social systems.

ACKOFF TAPE # 1

Posted by ACASA on February 22, 2018 at 10:28 PM in blog post | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 20, 2018

From Mechanistic to Social Systemic Thinking

"Each of us has a theory of reality, a concept of the nature of the world which is referred to as our worldview. Our worldview is the cement that holds our culture together; we absorb it by osmosis in the process of acculturation. We are currently in the early stages of a tremendous change in the dominant worldview—a shift in age as large in its implications as the movement from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the Machine Age. In order to understand the change we are experiencing we need to look more closely at the philosophies and ideas that have shaped our current view of the world and the shift in thinking that is required as we move from the Machine Age into the Systems Age. To understand the challenges we face requires a historical perspective that traces the evolution of Western thought from the Middle Ages to the present."

From Mechanistic to Social Systemic Thinking

Posted by ACASA on February 20, 2018 at 09:20 AM in Classics | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 04, 2018

Organizational Leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Emerging Research and Opportunities

Peter A.C. Smith (The Leadership Alliance Inc., Canada) and John Pourdehnad (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
Release Date: February, 2018|Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 125
 

Description

Digital technology has transformed business and management methodology in the modern era. As technologies continue to evolve and change, designing a platform for business architecture requires flexibility and practicality.

Organizational Leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Emerging Research and Opportunities provides the latest research on the approaches to dealing successfully with newly emerging digital technologies and the dynamic complexity leaders are facing now and in the future. While highlighting topics such as business architecture, interactive planning, and strategic capital, this book explores the implications of technologies on business and leadership as well as the development of leadership methods and applications. This book is an important resource for professionals, practitioners, upper-level students, and managers seeking current research on leadership and business advancement in the digital era.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Business Architecture
  • Complex Environments
  • Digital Technologies
  • Human-Centered Environment
  • Interactive Planning
  • Leadership Development
  • Retrospective and Prospective Reflections
  • Strategic Capital

Organizational Leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Emerging Research and Opportunities

 
 

Posted by ACASA on February 4, 2018 at 10:16 AM in Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 23, 2018

Corruption: Its Nature, Causes, and Cures

By:

Russell L. Ackoff, Raul Carvajal, Thomas A. Cowan, Ali Geranmayeh, Aron Katsenelinboigen and Sanjay Sharan

Of the:

Busch Center, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104

December 1980

Table of Contents:

  1. The meaning of corruption
  2. The Causes of corruption: A review of the literature
  3. The causes of corruption: A synthetic view
  4. On prevention and cure: A review of the literature
  5. On prevention and cure: A synthetic view

Download Corruption nature causes and cure

Posted by ACASA on January 23, 2018 at 02:37 PM in Classics | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 18, 2018

A Revolution In Organizational Concepts

By Russell L. Ackoff

Naval War College Review

January 1972

The postwar period has been variously referred to as the postindustrial age or the age of the computer. However, to best appreciate the fundamental changes characteristic of our era, we must address ourselves  to the revolutionary new kinds of thinking being considered and adopted throughout our society. Analyzing traditional patterns of thought and conceptualization, Dr. Ackoff demonstrates how modern approaches to problem solving differ fundamentally in philosophic terms from past practices. He suggests that all major organizational questions facing us today relate either to system design or the relationship of the organization with its human and natural environments.

Download A Revolution in Organizational Concepts

Posted by ACASA on January 18, 2018 at 05:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2017

A Quote from Russell Ackoff

Ackoff & Organizations

Posted by ACASA on December 5, 2017 at 10:45 AM in blog post | Permalink | Comments (0)