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Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow's Crisis...Today Hardcover – April 30, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0131963634 ISBN-10: 0131963635 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wharton School Publishing; 1 edition (April 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131963635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131963634
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Idealized design is a great concept: in order to find the ideal solution to a business challenge, you envision the perfect solution, then work backward to the possible. The authors appear to have followed that concept, asking themselves what the ideal business book should include. A thorough explanation of the concept and convincing proof of its value in a variety of situations and organizations? Check. An inventory of the ideal environment for performing idealized design experiments? Check. Case studies? Check. The development of idealized design is largely credited to Ackoff, a management professor emeritus and author of 22 books who is praised in the foreword as "no doubt one of the greatest management innovators of our time." The progressive concepts described here are useful to companies undergoing a difficult transition or wanting to push themselves to the next level. More impressively, this volume ventures beyond the business realm to explore how idealized design can be applied to larger social issues, such as a national health care system or a new electoral system. Regardless of whether the reader agrees with the proposed designs, those examples expand the interest of this book beyond its traditional category and readership. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

What's the best way to drive fundamental, transformative change within your organization? Envision your ideal solution: then, work backwards to where you are. It's called idealized design, and -- as executives in hundreds of organizations will testify -- it's one of the most powerful techniques you'll ever use. Authored by its legendary creator, Wharton Professor Emeritus Russell Ackoff, and leading practitioner Jason Magidson, Idealized Design covers every facet of this breakthrough methodology. You'll learn the fundamental differences between idealized design and traditional process re-engineering, and understand how idealized design eliminates many conventional obstacles to change. Start-to-finish techniques and examples drawn from hundreds of companies, non-profits, and government organizations will show you how to use idealized design to solve your own crisis of

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Resource Planning 5.
Craig L. Howe
This book offers a tremendously intuitive approach to focusing an organization on what needs to be changed.
M. J. Coury
Anyway, I think the process is quite good and is very much worth examining.
Craig Matteson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books that I loved the first 2/3 of, but the last 1/3 is better off ignored. This book talks about a process that can get an organization into better competitive shape for the future by imagining the present as destroyed and we have to begin again with what we now know but with none of the inertia or baggage from the past. What would you then design?

I think the process put forward here can be quite powerful. The concept of formulating the mess and then planning the ends without regards to the past is terrific. Then you plan how to get there and while what you end up with will probably not be what you "idealized", it will almost certainly be innovative and far ahead of where you would have been with incremental change. The authors' concept of dissolving the problem by looking at the containing factors and making the problem disappear by changing the container is also especially good.

However, it is in part III where the authors discuss the "urban car" and a health system for all Americans that things fall completely apart. They let the "container" of left-wing politics enter their notions without letting the reality of the marketplace discipline their final recommendations. The car is embarrassingly idiotic and the health care system is nothing more than a single payer system with all the fantasies of its supporters put forward as facts. Maybe the containing problem for urban congestion isn't the car but the way we subsidize life in cities. Maybe the containing problem in health care is the way we call pre-paid health care insurance and we need to rethink what needs to be insured and what needs to come out of pocket, like almost everything else in life.

Anyway, I think the process is quite good and is very much worth examining.
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Format: Hardcover
In the modern world, you can send information around the world in less than a second. This has leveled the playing field across the globe, helping to create the growing rift in the earning power of Americans. The income of the upper half of the U. S. population continues to advance at a steady rate, but that of the lower half continues to decline. Even worse, the number of hours in the average work week continues to increase. All of this means that the old style of management that worked so well for so many years for American companies is now obsolete. The operative phrase is simple, "Adapt or die (quickly)!"

It is no longer reasonable to spend an extensive amount of time examining a problem from all sides, slowly working towards a consensus and then incrementally implementing the solution. One must be able to identify problems, create solutions and then execute them all within a very short time. This requires organizations to reorganize into flat hierarchies of decision making. The point of the authors is that this can and should be done in the design of everything the company does. This strategy of design extends to how the company is organized regarding the communication between personnel, to their relative locations in space, to how the products are built, how they are marketed, delivered and finally to how customer relations are handled.

Their phrase is idealized design, which is simply to design everything so that substantial changes are easy to implement. The explanations are done through a series of case studies, which are drawn from many areas of business, service and manufacturing. Two case studies are outside the business sector, one describes a non-profit academy for vocal arts and the other the White House communications agency.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on June 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Every organization faces interacting threats and opportunities. It is, perhaps, simplistic to argue the ideal solution to these problems is to imagine the ideal solution and then work backwards to today.

The authors refer to this six-step process as "idealized design."

* Idealization

1. Formulate the problem. Understand your organization's Achilles heel by preparing a systems analysis, an obstruction analysis, describe your organization's future without change and then project a scenario if nothing is done.

2. Ends Planning. This is the heart of the process. Once you understand where you are and where you want to be, identify the gaps.

* Realization

3. Means Planning

4. Resource Planning

5. Design of Implementation

6. Design of controls.

The authors include a chapter for government and another on the health-care challenge. They offer humane, effective and intriguing solutions to what often appears to be intractable problems.

"Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error," wrote Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the German cultural figure. For many of us, it is easier said than changed. Idealized design offers a powerful tool for revolutionary thinking. Adding its tenets into our individual and organization thinking will help us adapt to today's environment of rapid change.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I took a personality test at work years ago, I was identified categorically as a "designer", someone who envisions the ideal result and gets pleasure in developing the road map to make the ideal into a reality. Idealized design founder and former Wharton professor in systems theory Russell L. Ackoff, along with co-authors Jason Magidson and Herbert J. Addison, have elevated my natural inclination into a management philosophy that drives transformative change while remaining true to a company's defined objective. Their primary thesis is that organizations need to be clear on their optimal business outcome and then work backwards to achieve it. This is a major jump ahead of standard process re-engineering since idealized design does not start with a base of falsity about success. At the same time, the concept represents a new way of thinking that may take a while to be embraced by those who must implement it.

In focusing on the idealized vision, Ackoff and his colleagues concisely spell out how many obstacles, often self-inflicted, are eliminated and go as far as identifying the preventative measures that represent a major sea change to a company. What makes the eminently readable book particularly useful is the wide-ranging variety of case studies presented which show empirical evidence of idealized design in action. Most inspiring is Ackoff's own example of working with Bell Labs in the 1950's with the intent of redesigning the telephone. The company was applying then-common practice in looking at making incremental improvements in the standard telephone features - the dial, coaxial cabling and multiplexing.
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