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Systems Thinking, Second Edition: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture Paperback – December 19, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0750679732 ISBN-10: 0750679735 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2 edition (December 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750679735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750679732
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Expanded and updated edition of a best selling classic that expands on developing all inclusive systems methodologies allowing for optimal business/organizational efficacy

From the Back Cover

Praise for the First Edition:
"Einstein once wrote, 'Without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought.' In his book, Systems Thinking, Jamshid develops a pattern of thought that will yield solutions to those problems."
- Russell Ackoff, Preeminent Systems Scientist, Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Building off the classic first edition, Systems Thinking, Second Edition, has been updated and revised to include the parallel cutting-edge development in quantum theory, self-organizing systems, and complexity theory. In this version of systems methodology Gharajedaghi has used interactive design as a platform to combine the magic of iterative approach with the power of the dynamic thinking to create an all-inclusive, competent and exciting systems methodology that goes a long way in dealing with emerging challenges of seemingly complex and chaotic socio-cultural systems.

Systems Thinking, Second Edition includes updates on the impact recent events, such as terrorism, corruption, and alienation, have had on systems thinking and implementation. A companion website to accompany the book is available at

Sponsoring clients of the five case studies in this book had this to say about Jamshid Gharajedaghi and his methodology:

"Gharajedaghi challenged us to think backwards from an ideal competitive position instead of forwards from our existing position with all its constraints. The result was bolder thinking about change. Jamshid forces a realistic assessment of a company's strengths and weaknesses, an idealistic view of what it could be, and creates the path from point A to point B.
- Bill Tiefel, President, Marriott Lodging

"Gharajedaghi was perfect! He had passion and brilliance. And he was a bully, and that's what we needed. He could challenge our traditional thinking and make us see our actions and opportunities from a different perspective."
- William G. Poist, President and CEO, Commonwealth Energy System

Jamshid Gharajedaghi is Managing Partner of Interact, The Institute for Interactive Management and former director of The Busch Center, the research arm and Adjunct Professor of Systems Sciences at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By T. Pickering on February 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gharajedaghi's 2nd edition has accomplished an incredible feat - he has successfully integrated and synthesized the systems dynamics of Forrester with the systems thinking and interactive design of Ackoff. Jamshid connects Holistic thinking, operational thinking, socio-cultural models/conceptions, and interactive design into a complementary whole. Our organization has learned and is using Jamshid's methodology and it is fundamentally changing the way in which we see the world and the organizations that will be able to compete in this new "flat" world.

If you're ready to escape the confines of linear thinking and classical science and management approaches to organizational problems, then this is your book. This book is written conceptually, not linearly, and challenges any reader who is used to over-simplified, mainstream books yet it is not an overly technical read that would be approachable only to high-level engineers and systems scientists. Those not having approached systems thinking before might be better off simultaneously working through Senge's Fifth Discipline and Ackoff's Best as primers. Be prepared to read it slowly and repeatedly - the ideas are profound when considered carefully and openly and might challenge many core assumptions.

Having met Jamshid on several occasions, I have found him to be one of the brighest men to grace our world with a significant contribution to share - he very well may have the current "best" answer to organizational design for our times. To dismiss him as simply an "Ackoff disciple" or another guru trying to sell his services is shortsighted. Linear, prescriptive books become best-sellers that catapult authors into 5-digit fee days - Jamshid's 2nd edition isn't the stuff of best-sellers, but rather for "best-thinkers."
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mark McDonald on February 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jamshid Gharajedaghi has presented a very nice introduction to a very difficult and complex problem. He has correctly identified the need for thinking about complex systems. The one really valuable insight is his discussion of the evolution of systems philosophies in Chapter 1.

Unfortunately, he does not truly present a unified approach to solving problems. He does explain rather well that choice is a very important component of complex systems, and that a well designed system incentivizes decision makers to do what is best for the group. His idea of holistic iterative design is a correct approach to solving complex systems problems. Yet clear methodologies and simulation approaches are lacking in their discussion, presentation, and illustration.

Simulation is a very important tool for understanding the behavior of complex systems. It should be used as extensively as possible. The presentation of systems dynamics in the book was very, very poor. It was too weak to be of much use to the designers and managers of practical systems. Yet models are not reality, and in the words of Richard Bandler, "the map is not the territory." There was no discussion of model validation. This is a clear fault of this book.

I do think that the idea of starting from the ideal scenario is of absolute importance in solving problems. It may be desirable or even necessary to alter the structure, function, and process of any organization in order to achieve the best results for the overall system. Yet Gharajedaghi does not provide a clear framework for doing so.

The case studies in this book are valuable, because they do give important insights to the application of systems thinking to practical situations.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tim H. Blessing on December 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
I used this for a Ph.D. level course in Leadership Studies and can honestly say that, in almost three full decades of teaching, it was the worst mistake I have made in picking a textbook. Besides the above comment that it is low in definitional accuracy, it is just self-indulgent beyond words. I had the picture of a puppy bringing me a chewed newspaper and waiting to get petted for doing so. The author goes to great pains to demonstrate how bright he is, while demonstrating that his "brightness" is in the manipulation of words and other tools, not in understanding what he is talking about or in helping others to understand what he thinks he is saying.

Unless you like "buzz words" and jargon and the good feeling that comes from superficiality, stay away from this one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Roberts Inc. on May 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most important books written in the last 30 years. It is about moving beyond process, synthetic and analytical thinking as singular means of improving business. It is a key to understanding that all of these methods are insufficient on their own as a means of creating optimum results, continuous improvement and business development.

We all understand that in the greatest of companies, musical ensembles, theatre troupes, and sports teams, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, we remain mystified by that elusive "chemistry" that actually is the necessary final ingredient needed to move beyond simply being very, very good, and becoming extraordinary.

Dr. Gharajedaghi reveals to us that "chemistry" remains elusive because of the way we see it. He demonstrates that it is not an ingredient that we can insert, but it is a product of the interaction and interdependence of the other ingredients that we are using. Additionally, we learn that the ingredients must be put into the right mixing bowl, or operational environment, which he defines in general terms as "context".

With this book, Professor Gharajedaghi provides us with a very clear understanding as to how chemistry can be created and recreated within any organization, and how to sustain it. This book is a key that will allow you to actually implement process improvement theories such as TQM and Lean, that have been at best a disappointment and at worst a failure in corporate America over the last 20 years.
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