March 03, 2005
Beating the System: Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies
By Russell L. Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin
Editions: Paperback (Berrett-Koehler Pub, May 31, 2005)
* Provides practical, easy-to-use tactics and strategies for creatively beating any bureaucratic system that is trying to beat you
* Full of entertaining real-world stories of people who have been frustrated by unresponsive systems and have successfully fought back
* Coauthor Russell L. Ackoff is an internationally renowned pioneer in the world of systems thinking who has spent over 50 years studying how organizations work
"I loved the book and read every blessed word of it, savored it, and recommended it to virtually every sentient person I know who works in an organized setting."
- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Management at USC and author of On Becoming a Leader and Geeks and Geezers
The need to beat the many systems that compromise our quality of life goes without saying. When was the last time you dealt with a bureaucracy--a business, a government agency, a school, a hospital--and got a direct answer to a question or received a service you wanted without having to weave through a maze of infuriating hand-offs? Have you found these systems to be utterly indifferent to the inconvenience or hardship they cause? Want to learn how to beat them?
Beating the System shows you how. Coauthors Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin have spent their lives studying how organizational systems work, and here they share both perversely entertaining anecdotes about the abuse of individuals by a variety of bureaucracies, and descriptions of the creative--and deeply satisfying--approaches these people used to get even.
The authors begin by exploring how systems function and
malfunction, where their weaknesses are, and what drives them. They show that
much of bureaucratic power is based on unchallenged assumptions--assumptions
systems make about themselves and us, and assumptions we make about these
systems and ourselves, and that challenging these assumptions is the essence of
creativity and the first step in system beating. Ackoff and Rovin use stories
to illustrate successful strategies and tactics for defying these assumptions
and turning the tables on the many bureaucracies that frustrate us.
Part I: Prerequisites for System Beating
1. Why Systems Need to Be Beat (necessity mothers inversion)
2. Understanding Systems (knowledge without understanding is a misguided missile)
3. The Nature of Creativity (those in boxes can't think out of them)
Part II: System Beaters: Their Stories
4. Denying Assumptions
5. Turnabout is Fair Play
6. Divide and Conquer
7. Threaten the System
8. Side-Step Constraints
9. When All Else Fails, Revolt
Part III: Beating Systems and Making Them Unbeatable
10. Rules of Thumb for System Beaters
11. Making Systems Unbeatable
Stories by System Category
Russell L. Ackoff is Anheuser-Busch Professor Emeritus of
Management Science at the Wharton School, Distinguished Affiliated Faculty at
the Center for Organizational Dynamics, and is on the advisory board of the
Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches, all at the University of
Pennsylvania. He is the author of 22 books, including Redesigning Society (with Sheldon Rovin), Recreating the Corporation, and Ackoff's
Sheldon Rovin is Emeritus Professor of Healthcare Systems at the Wharton School of Business and past Director of Healthcare Executive Management Programs at Wharton Executive Education and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including Redesigning Society (with Russell Ackoff), and Medicine and Business: Bridging the Gap.