April 02, 2011
A conversation between Russell Ackoff and Edward Deming
This is the unedited transcript of the only conversation between Ackoff and Deming, as moderated by Clare Crawford Mason. This transcript reveals the views of two pre-eminent thinkers in systems thinking. They discuss the relevancy and the application of a systems worldview to intractable problems and societal ills.
The conversation took place in l992 and was edited and released as Volume 21 of The Deming Library series in l993. It is called “A Theory of a System for Educators and Managers” It is available from CC-M Productions and includes a second DVD with discussion/teaching guides for it and the rest of the Deming Library at The CC-M website @ www.managementwisdom.com
Drs. Deming and Ackoff explain why systems theory is essential knowledge for managing an organization in a world of change and uncertainty. Dr. Ackoff discusses synthesis as a necessary logic for understanding why a system behaves the way it does. He contrasts synthesis with analysis, which is useful for understanding how an organization and its units operate. Analysis is synonymous with thinking in the traditions of Western cultures.
Dr. Ackoff was fond of saying the East is learning scientific thinking more rapidly than the West is learning systems thinking. The combination of the two is the next leap forward in ability to manage and predict change and complexity.
To read this transcript download the attached PDF file.