Ackoff sayings……useful to say the least!

There is much being written about this great systems thinker so perhaps it is a good idea to keep tabs of some of his key quotes and articles that I am coming across.

“The only problems that have simple solutions are simple problems. The only managers that have simple problems have simple minds. Problems that arise in organisations are almost always the product of interactions of parts, never the action of a single part. Complex problems do not have simple solutions.” Definitely a quote that should be used at the start of every presentation of T214: Understanding Complexity at the Open University.

Article on Russ Ackoff in FT

April 12th 2010

Ackoff, R. L. “Case Histories Five Years after-A Symposium: Unsuccessful Case Studies and Why.” Operations Research 8.2 (1960):259-263. This article looks at why research studies within the field of Operational Research and Management are successful or not. Ackoff determines that failure, in the field of Operational Research, is to taken as ‘one in which there was partial or complete failure to implement finding’. He mentions a number of contributing factors as to why designs or analysis of findings fail to be implemented by organisations. These can be summed up as: changing external environment to the organisations; internal political frictions; differing perspectives and values; and finally, positional power.

This concept can be further developed to understand why systems such as NHS Direct are adopted by some Primary Care Groups and integrated as part of the serve delivery whereas other PCG completely ignore the serve and perceive it as ‘surplus to requirements’.


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