Russell Ackoff

Operations Research/Systems Thinking guru

we fail more often because we solve the Wrong Problem (Wicked) than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem (Framing)

now at Interact Design (with Jamshid Gharajedaghi)



  • We have tried to show that there are three different ways of looking at and thinking about social systems: as mechanistic, organismic or social systems. We have argued that the first two types of modelling severely limit our ability to understand such systems, hence to Control them... Organismic management strives for growth as necessary for survival. It conceptualizes the parts of a social system as organs with essential functions but no purposes of their own. Their only reason for existence is their service to the whole... Social System management is concerned with development and tries to serve the purposes of the system, its parts, and its containing systems. There may be conflict between these levels or within them. Therefore, resolution or dissolution of conflict is one of management's principal responsibilities.

  • It is my contention that the ability of a Social System to redesign its structure, redefine its function, and form an AND relationship between the opposing tendencies, creates a capacity for a purposeful transformation toward higher levels of differentiation and integration... The Courage to question the most sacred assumptions are a basic requirement for an active and continuous process of learning and unlearning which underlines the function of Control guarantor in a social system, and the need for the design of an ideal-seeking system... Interactive Planning, developed by Russell Ackoff is a design methodology for the creation of ideal-seeking systems. It is particularly useful in an effort to change a win/lose (Zero-Sum) struggle to a Win-Win strategy.

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