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Russell L. Ackoff


  • Creating the Corporate Future:
    Presents a participative systems approach to interactive planning. Describes how to formulate the system of problems and opportunities that face a corporation.
  • Ackoff's Best: Timeless Observations on the Life of Business
    From managing teams, maximizing the effectiveness of information systems, and problem solving, to creativity, crime, and the role of the corporation in a democratic society, these writings are a cornucopia of insights, observations, and powerful lessons that will help you improve the effectiveness of your organization.
  • Beating the System: Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies
    "Coauthors Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin have spent their lives studying how organizational systems work, and here they share both perversely entertaining anecdotes about the abuse of individuals by a variety of bureaucracies, and descriptions of
  • Systems Thinking for Curious Managers: with 40 New Management f-Laws
    Finished just before Professor Ackoff's death late in 2009, Systems Thinking for Curious Managers opens the door to a joined up way of thinking about things that has profoundly influenced thinkers and doers in the fields of business, politics, economics, biology, psychology. Although Systems Thinking was 'invented' early in the 20th century, even Peter Senge's best-selling "The Fifth Discipline" (Systems Thinking is the fifth discipline) failed to popularize the term. But now, in business and academia, in the public sector and in the search for solutions to the environmental problems we face, Systems Thinking is being talked about everywhere. This timely book presents 40 more of Russ Ackoff's famously witty and incisive f-Laws (or flaws) of business - following on from his 2007 collection "Management f-Laws". All those in this collection are new and previously unpublished. Andrew Carey's extended introduction ties these f-Laws into the rest of Ackoff's work and gives the reader new to Systems Thinking a practical guide to the implications of Systems Thinking for organisations and managers.
  • Management f-Laws: How Organizations Really Work
    A full collection of more than 80 of Russell Ackoff's management f-laws: the uncomfortable truths about how organizations really work, what's wrong with the way we design and manage businesses, what makes managers tick... and how we can make things work better.


  • A Day with Dr. Russel L. Ackoff   view details
    web link broken :-(
    Video of presentation to the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
    "Among the topics Dr. Ackoff discussed during the workshop were:
    - The history and application of systems thinking
    - How do social systems allow us to understand and overcome long term problems in today's environment?
    - How can you effect change within the system in which you play a role?"
  • A Brief Guide to Interactive Planning and Idealized Design   view details
    "Interactive planning is directed at creating the future. It is based on the belief that an organization's future depends at least as much on what it does between now and then, as on what is done to it. Therefore, this type of planning consists of the design of a desirable present and the selection or invention of ways of approximating it as closely as possible. It creates its future by continuously closing the gap between where it is at any moment of time and where it would most like to be."
  • The Future of Operational Research is Past   view details
    "I hold academic OR and the relevant professional societies primarily responsible for this decline-and since I had a hand in initiating both, I share this responsibility. By the mid 1960's most OR courses in American universities were given by academics w
  • Resurrecting the Future of Operational Research   view details
    "In a previous paper I tried to show that OR is in a mess. There is no one solution to a mess. What is needed are designs and inventions that will enable Operational Researchers to formulate their ideals explicitly, pursue them effectively and do so in a
  • A Systemic View of Transformational Leadership   view details
    "Therefore, a transformational leader is one who can produce, or encourage and facilitate the production of, a mobilizing vision of a transformed system. Equally important, the leader must be able to inspire and organize or have organized an effective pursuit of that vision and maintain it even when sacrifices are required."
  • Transforming The Systems Movement   view details
    "Systems thinking produces radical and potentially revolutionary visions of public institutions. Nothing short of such visions can transform the state of world affairs. I believe we have an obligation to the global society of which we are a part to make

All articles by Russell L. Ackoff

Author Quotes

  • It is far better to do the right thing wrong than to do the wrong thing right.

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  • If there isn't joy in work, you won't get productivity, and you won't get quality.

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    Invterview of Dr. Deming and Dr. Ackoff

  • Managers who don't know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure.

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    Management f-Laws

  • The end of one problem may be the beginning of another.

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    The Art of Problem Solving

  • 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 behavior taken separately.

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    On Purposeful Systems

  • Successful problem solving requires finding the right solution to the right problem. We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.

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  • Errors of omission, lost opportunities, are generally more critical than errors of commission. Organizations fail or decline more frequently because of what they did not do than because of what they did.

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    A Major Mistake That Managers Make

  • 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 behavior taken separately.

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  • A system 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.

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  • We have also come to realize that no problem ever exists in complete isolation. Every problem interacts with every other problem and is therefore part of a set of interrelated problems, a system of problems. Furthermore, solutions to most problems produce other problems; for example, buying a car may solve a transportation problem but it may also create a need for a garage, a financial problem, a maintenance problem, and conflict among family members for its use.

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    Redesigning the Future

All quotes by Russell L. Ackoff

Alternative names:

Russ Ackoff, Russell Ackoff, Dr. Russell Ackoff

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