May 05, 2015
International Society for the Systems Sciences
Governing the Anthropocene: the greatest challenge for systems thinking in practice?
The 59th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences will be held in Berlin, Germany, August 2 - 7, 2015.
Announcement - PhD Course
Systems Thinking and Practice in PhD Research: Cybersystemic Possibilities for Governing the Anthropocene
30 July – 7 August 2015, Germany
March 25, 2015
Ackoff's rules of system interdependency, Part I
BY Gordon Housworth -- From ICG Blog
"Anyone familiar with my systems side knows that I treasure Russ Ackoff, whose three rules of system interdependency are never far from hand when approaching any system, human, natural, or mechanical. Any analysis of our own or of an opponent's system calls for them as they immediate flag disconnects and suboptimization. I summarize Ackoff’s rules of interdependency as:
- Rule One: If you optimize a system, you will sub-optimize one or more components
- Rule Two: If you optimize the components of a system, you will sub-optimize the system
- Rule Three: The components of a system form subgroups that obey Rules One and Two
They show why a system can be so maddeningly complex, especially when its parts are examined in isolation to others and to their environment. It is Rule Three that so often brings an expression similar to that of the Sheriff Brody in the film, Jaws, when he turns from the shark to say, "We need a bigger boat." Indeed we do.
Ackoff corrects our commonly held view that a system is the sum of its parts. Instead a system is the product of the interactions of those parts: "…the essential properties that define any system are properties of the whole which none of the parts have." Ackoff likes to cite the automobile's essential property is to transport us from place to place, a property that no single part of the car can perform, i.e., once a system is dismantled, it loses its essential characteristic even if we retain its parts.
Ackoff zeroed in on the need for understanding (of a system or anything else) in "Mechanisms, organisms and social systems":
"One can survive without understanding, but not thrive. Without understanding one cannot control causes; only treat effect, suppress symptoms. With understanding one can design and create the future ... people in an age of accelerating change, increasing uncertainty, and growing complexity often respond by acquiring more information and knowledge, but not understanding."
To Read the Post, Click on the following URL: Applying Ackoff's rules of system interdependency, Part I
February 25, 2015
To Combat Terrorism, a Systems Approach is Vital
From July, 2002
Russell L. Ackoff is an emeritus professor at Wharton and a leading proponent of systems theory. He recently attended a meeting where economists and other experts were weighing the chances of terrorist attacks crippling the U.S. economic system. That discussion surprised Ackoff. “Why should terrorists attack the U.S. economic system?” he wondered. “They don’t have to; CEOs are already doing a fine job of that.”
To read the article, please click on the following URL: To Combat Terrorism, a Systems Approach is Vital
January 15, 2015
Rethinking Executive Education: A Program for Responding to Sudden Disruptions Caused by Dynamic Complexity
Lately, many social systems (i.e., countries, organizations and projects) are experiencing adverse situations that are characterized as “dynamic complexity.” These situations usually co-produce disruptions in the day-to-day operations as a result of which many social systems become partially extinct. We posit this is because these situations are not clearly recognized by those who are empowered to deal with them.
In this paper we propose a new and updated approach to executive education that takes into account the prevalence of dynamic complexity caused by massive changes in the nature of the internal and external environments of a system. We argue that the educational requirements necessary to prepare leaders who have the cognitive capacity to steer through the “perfect storm,” are very different from leading in simple and stable contexts. We suggest that this proficiency emerges from the interaction of relevant skills, accessed experience, knowledge and understanding of the situation, practical wisdom and sound judgment, and relevant personality attributes. We present a model with a multi-layered approach to executive education which addresses how the ability to rapidly assimilate, sort through, and comprehend vast amounts of data/information in order to make the right decisions depends on approaches to learning, knowledge of critical concepts, particularly systems thinking as a mindset/filter, and knowledge of enabling IT.
To read this paper, click on the following link:
December 15, 2014
Russ Ackoff on An Idealized Design for a University
By Skip Walter
In 1986, while managing Digital Equipment Corporation’s ALL-IN-1 $1B per year office automation development efforts, a colleague sent me a copy of Russ Ackoff’s Creating the Corporate Future (1981). To paraphrase Russ’s famous introductory lectures on how he came across the process he turned into his Idealized Design methodology through his work with Bell Labs (the story is an introduction to his book Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow’s Crisis …Today), I really wished she had not sent me the book as I spent most of the next year interacting with Russ and his team at the Wharton School instead of doing what I was supposed to do at DEC.
After reading the book and a previous book The SCATT Report: Designing a National Scientific and Technical Communication System (1976), I immediately called Russ and asked if I could visit him to learn more about his methods and his way of systems thinking. I shared with him many of the challenges we were facing at Digital Equipment with our rapid growth and with the dramatic impact that the PC revolution and the networking revolution were having on our business. He graciously agreed to meet and the next day I went to Philadelphia to meet him at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
To Read the Post, Click on the following URL: Russ Ackoff on An Idealized Design for a University
November 05, 2014
On Business School's Allleged Education
Russell L. Ackoff
Keynote Speech at the Hull University Business School, 2005
When I retired from Wharton as a member of the regular faculty and became emeritus I was asked to reflect on the value of a business school education. I endeared myself to the faculty by identifying what I thought to be the three most important values of such an education.
- First, it equips students with a vocabulary that enables them to talk with authority about subjects they do not understand.
- Second, it inculcates them with principles of management and organization that have demonstrated their ability to withstand any amount of disconfirming evidence.
- Third, and this is what makes business school education worthwhile —it provides a ticket of admission to a job that provides a chance to learn what should have been learned in business school but wasn’t.
To read the speech, download the following file: Download UK TALK 05
October 01, 2014
By Rejecting the Status Quo, Russ Ackoff Took Systems Thinking to Greater Heights
After World WAr II, the U.S. War Production Board sought to preserve the scientific knowledge gained during the war support efforts. Major advances expanded theoretical knowledge, such as the development of the discipline of operations research. Practical advances of knowledge resulted from the intense manufacturing efforts, such as the application of statistical methods in a practice of control for production methods. But somehow, theory and practice diverged—and today we are worse off because of it.
That was the lifetime message of Russ Ackoff, who died [October 2009]. He was a man who had one foot firmly planted in mathematical-analytical disciplines and the other in humanistic-participatory teamwork. His life story is instructive for quality professionals as it traces the development of systems thinking during its 60-year migration.
To read the article, click on the following link: By rejecting the status quo, Russ Ackoff took systems thinking to greater heights
August 27, 2014
- 1 Sourced
- 1.1 1950s
- 1.2 1960s
- 1.3 1970s
- 1.4 1980s
- 1.5 1990s
- 1.6 2000s
- 2 About Russell L. Ackoff
- 3 External links
June 17, 2014
Systems Wisdom, Pioneers in Translational Consulting
In 2013, a group of practitioners, including some of the Ackoff’s former students and colleagues came together to create Systems Wisdom, an organization with the objective of going beyond traditional boundaries of various disciplines and consulting practices. They shared the following concerns and opportunities:
Frustrations with traditional consulting approaches: i.e., if what is offered by traditional organizations is so good why has the average life expectancy of organizations decreased from 75 years in 1937 to 11.5 years today?
Limitations by those who believe one methodology or consulting approach fits all customer/client requirements; and who adhere to one methodology even within the systems and design thinking community.
Inadequate integration of systems and design thinking particularly when confronted with complexity – a topic “everyone” talks about.
Constraint of 2nd generation design in which experts study users but remain the designers.
From this emerged the pioneering work on “translational consulting” in which similar to translational medicine there is focus on the unique organizational DNA of a client, on capturing lessons learned, and where an intervention must be individually designed, implemented and controlled/tracked. Another objective was to bring a greater degree of realism to computational thinking to make it more effective for teaching decision making processes.
To read more go here: Systems Wisdom
May 08, 2014
Russell Ackoff Doctoral Fellowship from Wharton School
Doctoral student Minji Kim is the recipient of the Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship Award for 2014 from the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.