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April 03, 2019

Systems Theory (Russell Ackoff)

Post-war America has been good at producing aphorism-spouting management gurus. Wharton School’s Russell L. Ackoff, who died in 2009 at the age of ninety, was up there with the finest. Ackoff’s major specialisation was systems thinking, especially when related to human behaviour and applied to organisations and institutions. Departing from the concept of the purposeful system, Ackoff and his various co-authors argued that understanding about the aims of such systems can ‘only be gained by taking into account the mechanisms of social, cultural and psychological systems.’ Essentially, Ackoff argued for a holistic approach and a clearer understanding about the true ends, aims or ideals of human-created systems. ‘A system,’ he declared, ‘is more than the sum of its parts; it is an indivisible whole. It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart. The elements of a system may themselves be systems, and every system may be part of a larger system.’ And thus, ‘The basic managerial idea introduced by systems thinking, is that to manage a system effectively, you might focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behaviour taken separately.’

Systems Theory (Russell Ackoff)

Posted by ACASA on April 3, 2019 at 01:45 PM in blog post | Permalink

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