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Ackoff's Best: His Classic Writings on Management 1st Edition
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Basically, I believe that Ackoff's original and provocative ideas are considerably enriched by his: training as a philosopher, pioneering role in systems thinking, and engaged/reflective consultation experience. Part I of Ackoff's Best introduces his systems thinking in a clear and substantive form. This includes background, rationale, and terminology for a systems mindset, and proceeds into penetrating if straightforward insights and concepts of general value in dealing with problematic real-world situations. Also, he describes a purposeful system as one that "selects means as well as ends", along with an important instance thereof called an ideal-seeking system. It can pursue an idealized goal by progressively approaching it more closely through a sequence of ever more refined sub-goals. In all, these ideas/concepts are not applicable merely in the management arena, but also to the engineering of physical systems.
Part II introduces Ackoff's distinction between the glib notion of "solving problems" and the practical necessity of "managing messes". He characterizes messes as systems of interrelated problems that are not amenable to ease of definition much less isolation.Read more ›
He did write brief introductions to the four sections: Systems, Planning, Applications, and Science. The only editing was to remove what would otherwise be redundant explanations. The book also provides guidance to continue research after each chapter. So if one chapter seems particularly interesting you get find the book or other relevant sources.
Ackoff's writing is witty and at times mischievous, but always easily readable. This is an added benefit, considering:
A) that so few management books are anything close to enjoyable reading, and
B) his topics are unusually complex.
His explanation of systems is masterful, and his use of many clarifying definitions illuminates what could otherwise be a difficult subject. His examples shine, ranging from how people respond to bureaucracies, to why people drink alcohol, to how education frequently stifles creativity, and to the effects of advertising on sales.
The one weakness would be the chapter on crime, which was written in 1974, and has been completely reversed by the policies that lead to New York's dramatic reductions in crime in the 90s.
That said, Ackoff still has an enviable track record of success considering that his pioneering research blazed trails in so many areas.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant man, Brilliant ideas. This professor was always far ahead of his time.Published 17 months ago by Ramon V. Nicholl
Russell Ackoff is one of the better known systems thinkers for a reason. The quality of his thought is really exceptional; I feel smarter just following along as he narrates. Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Aaron U. Bolin