Professor Russell Ackoff was a great scholar, educator, consultant … and much more. Intellectual and pragmatic. Logician, mathematician, philosopher, … , systemist.
He was and excelled at so many things. One could fill an encyclopedia with #s trying to do him justice. The following I want to choose – feeling awkward about it as I am fairly old-fashioned and myself not too at-, dis-, ex-tracted 😉 by what some filters and algos suggest to be of relevance, based on keywords. Nevertheless, today I give in a little because I think Russ had deserved that he catches attention by more than those who watch out for reference to his vast body of contributions anyway.
#RLA100 #RLA #Ackoff #management #systems #systemsthinking #systemspractice #whole #holistic #purpose #inquiry #orientation #principles #approach #mindset #education #learning #future #design #interaction #philosophy #perspective #theory #practice #sensemaking #complexity #purposeful #human #mess #methodology #logic #method #strategy #organisation #process #efficiency #effectiveness #foundation #essence #DIKW #knowledge #understanding #wisdom #intellect #humour #flaws #entertainment #enlightenment #professionals #linkedin #tribute #differentiation #analysis #synthesis #relevance #rigour #remembrance #reverence #reflection
Few could nail an issue as cogent as he. Right on point. Yet always circumspective, bringing together contents and context – and consequences.
His sharp mind was accompanied by a sharp tongue that chiselled sentences of precision to stand the test of time. And hishumour was just as sharp.
Those who experienced him live will agree. Those who experience(d) him via books or (better to get a feel for the type of personality and clarity of deliverance) videos, regularly are stunned, along the lines of:
Brilliant. How clear. So succinct. Spot on.
So much of his understanding and wisdom is of fundamental essence. Theory and practice has developed, of course. But all development needs a sound, sturdy foundation.
Russ’ foundation is rock solid. Timeless.
A source and guide for sensemaking and design of interactive, complex human systems. And he has been at knowledge and understanding thereof long before systems – in the wider sense of the word – became fashionable. Fashionable industry would (to expand reference to architecture) benefit from more knowledge of the statics and understanding of the pillarsit builds on.
I would hold that lack thereof is one of the main reasons why (modern) systems approaches often are used on and understood from a process level/perspective only. Organisation and strategy fall short. And efforts then may bring short-term efficiency, but no long-term effectiveness.
Systems therefore is not a tool or a theory for normed (or even certified meticulous step-by-step) application, but a mindset and philosophy – as much as a holistic and wholesome practice.
- It is a construct and method to inquire into, engage with, and design the complex world.
- It is a frame of orientation to manage messes and complexity.
- It has principles and guidelines, not rigid rules or (standard operating) procedures.
- It is user-dependent and changes with user and usage.
- It is a methodology, an approach that follows the logos of method.
Russell Ackoff has taught and influenced many. In academia, industry, and public sector. In many different countries. In continental Europe he is unfortunately less known than in the English-speaking world.
To all those not RLA fans yet, but curious to learn about and more so from him, I would recommend (from the many publications of his) the following two. They are both entry level to and summary of his wisdom (reference to the DIK-Understanding-W pyramid):
“Management in Small Doses” and “Ackoff’s F/laws The Cake”
Both absolute gems, treasure chests of decades of experience as teacher and practitioner in
quintessential Russ style:
Russ’ ability to explain was compelling.
LinkedIn is a platform for professionals. The ones I regularly exchange with are all applying some form of systems thinking in their practice. However, not all were familiar with RLA and the pile of gems he left behind. Where I made reference to his works, spread the word, instilled pieces of his insights, was a (hope so) non-intrusive and friendly “missionary”, I can honestly and with joy report,
not one (sic!), who did not take to Russ and saw relevance for their own work.
I noted in recent weeks there was an increase of mention of and reference to him on the LinkedIn platform. The body of his work is substantial in every sense of the word. I am aware much has long been shared and stated. Still, I see his approaching centennial as an appropriate time to contribute to rekindling the torch and honouring his legacy.
What would Y O U would like to share as your learning from and reverence to him?
A quote, an insight, an anecdote … that has relevance for you. Something that you associate with him. Whether you provide your own or complement what others share – it is about paying tribute.
Personally, I shall for each of the 10 weeks until his 100th birthday send every Tuesday a little aspect or wisdom (sequence not by priority) that I relate to Russ, something I aim to reflect and embody in my own work. Here is my first in the 10-week countdown:
The fundamental difference betweenanalysis, taking things apart ANDsynthesis, seeing the whole & its purpose, which defines the purpose of the parts.
He was a master of differentiation and maybe that aspect of logic and clarity is a key differentiator that made him so special and relevant.
Russ made a difference. His intellectual rigour and sharpness is missed, for sure. And then, the man himself: demanding, yet caring.
- A loss – yes.
- A legacy – yes.
- A thankful remembrance, reverence, reflection – yes!
For those contacts I know they had truly close bonds with Russ, having been long-time collaborators, business partners and friends, I take the liberty to tag them: #jamshidgharajedaghi #johnpourdehnad
part one linked below – https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/complexity-in-public-health-part-1/
part two – https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/complexity-in-public-health-part-2-actions-to-take-responses-to-complex-problem/
Complexity in health policy, part 2. Actions to take & responses to complex problems
part three – https://gregfellpublichealth.wordpress.com/2018/10/18/interventions-to-influence-system-change/
Interventions to influence SYSTEM change. Complexity part 3
Complexity in public health
I went to an excellent meeting in the Spring at the Health Foundation led by Prof Rutter on complexity. It’s the new “thing” don’t you know. It made my brain hurt. A lot.
Much to reflect on. This blog covers the points I took from the meeting, and subsequent reflections
Part 1 – what’s the issue. some background, some definitions and the problem that is the starting premise
1. What do we mean by complexity
A complex system cannot be explained merely by breaking it down into its component parts because those parts are interdependent: elements interact with each other, share information and combine to produce systemic behaviour.
They exhibit ‘non-linear’ dynamics produced by feedback loops in which some forms of energy or action are dampened (negative feedback) while others are amplified (positive feedback).
It is impossible to precisely predict what changes might happen as a…
View original post 1,098 more words
The shutting down of one online venue for #systemsthinking on Google+ is inconvenient, yet a possibility that we have forseen. In headlines, see:
- “Project Strobe: Protecting your data, improving our third-party APIs, and sunsetting consumer Google+” | Ben Smith | Oct. 8, 2018 | Google Blog at https://www.blog.google/technology/safety-security/project-strobe/
- “Nonplussed: Why I’ll miss Google+, the best of all social networks” | Steven J. Vaughan-Nicols | October 9, 2018 | ZDNet at https://www.zdnet.com/article/nonplussed-why-ill-miss-google-the-best-of-all-social-networks/
- “Meet the educators and gamers mourning the death of Google+” | Nastasha Frost | October 8, 2018 | Quartz at https://qz.com/1417299/google-plus-is-dead-meet-the-educators-and-gamers-in-mourning/ .
The Systems Sciences community on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/117647110273892799778 is still working, on the day after the announcement.
Gabriel Asata asked:
Any idea about how to maintain ourselves in contact and keep the production and publication of this community after Google+ shutdown?
… to which I responded …
The Systems Sciences community on Google+ should acknowledge that an open community for systems thinkers worldwide has been provided at no charge by Google, as a commercial enterprise, for many years.
In partnership with Benjamin Taylor, our community has been prepared for the possibility that Google+ might not persistent in a supporting such a platform. In January 2018, we partnered on the Systems Community of Inquiry stream at https://stream.syscoi.com/2018/01/19/moving-to-stream-syscoi-com/ . This is an open collaboration site hosted on WordPress.COM that could be moved to an alternate provider, and is backed up on the Internet Archive (you can check at https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://stream.syscoi.com ).
If you prefer to just receive headlines, stream.syscoi.com syndicates to https://twitter.com/syscoi .
If you don’t like Twitter, and would like to experiment on an open source platform with a gradient of intimacy (i.e. like Google Circles), you might follow me (as an individual) at https://mastodon.cloud/@daviding . If a critical mass of individuals sign up on that platform, perhaps we can encourage that open source platform to flourish. (I’m also on Diaspora at https://diasp.org/u/daviding , but haven’t seen much action there in the past 3 years).
This is part of a longer story, at ..
- “Moving to stream.syscoi.com” | David Ing | January 19, 2018 | Systems Community of Inquiry at https://stream.syscoi.com/2018/01/19/moving-to-stream-syscoi-com/ ; and
- “Towards a federated social web” | David Ing | October 30, 2015 | Coevolving Innovation at http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/towards-a-federated-social-web/
Since the original explorations in 2015, we can now see “The Federation refers to a global social network composed of nodes that talk to each other. Each of them is an installation of software which supports one of the federated social web protocols” at https://the-federation.info/ . Here’s a snapshot of popularity at October 2018.
Mastodon (which didn’t exist in 2015, as did Diaspora) now appears to have been growing in popularity.
My recent request (‘is anyone reading this’ – https://stream.syscoi.com/2018/08/17/quick-check-here-is-anyone-reading-this/) was posted on here and on the various social media I use. I got some good responses and thought now was a good time to provide a bit more info about my own sources and approach. More information about the site is at the bottom of this post.
I am obsessively interested in #systemsthinking, #systemschange, #systemleadership (and #systemsleadership) and all variations thereof. My sources come from google alerts, nuzzel.com, twitter, the LinkedIn systems thinking network (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2639211 – though not systematically monitored), the systems thinking facebook groups at https://www.facebook.com/groups/774241602654986 and https://www.facebook.com/groups/2391509563, and also quite often from podcasts https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vRh25RO40r8LK4psqqGWfMAJOAFh5nyc3-UOx34-8GQ and many other email newsletters which I am signed up to. You’ll see many posts from complexity digest and from the systems studio newsletter – https://comdig.unam.mx/ and http://thesystemstudio.com
Laziness rules with my posting – I use the ‘press this’ wordpress applet to connect pages and content to wordpress for posting, put as much information and acknowledgement as I have time to do, then use www.bufferapp.com to send them out through my linkedin and twitter feeds and the facebook groups. I no longer post to LinkedIn groups or my facebook profiles, as those social media saw fit to take away this functionality (the sort of reason why we moved this content here). Our twitter account at twitter.com/syscoi automatically tweets out each story.
I tend to be very inclusive, adding any systems thinking content I find that seems to have real content (that I can understand). There isn’t much I filter out – probably only the Derek Cabrera stuff, which is well covered elsewhere and with which I have some disagreements, the wilder shores of some ‘living systems’ stuff without any real content, the most technical complexity modelling stuff, and anything (that seems to me to be) utterly bonkers or incomprehensible, or repeat material without any real new content.
The intent is to put anything potentially useful here – for my part, this site is about making this contribution which I am in a position to do, and having it available openly. Anyone can curate, tag, comment, and add other content at any time, and everything is open an accessible.
More about the systems community of inquiry:
This site is partly a descendant of model.report – you can see more of the history in this long post: https://stream.syscoi.com/2018/01/31/compendium-of-all-the-systems-thinking-links-january-2018/)
(Model report archive now hosted here at: https://syscoi.com/model.report/model.report/newest.html (not all functionality works there)).
This site exists for anyone anywhere to post anything systems-thinking related and for anyone with the interest to read, share, and comment. To follow, enter your email or click to follow with wordpress on the right. To contribute, click ‘become a contributor’ above – you will need to register with wordpress.
More information is available at: