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Better Management for a Changing World

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Better Management for a Changing World

This video series helps explain why it is imperative to understand the organization as a complex social system in order to manage for continual improvement and how to deal with the chief obstacle to effective systems thinking—fear that is present in nearly all organizations.  Dr. Russell Ackoff, professor emeritus of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and leading developer of systems theory, examines the history of corporations as social systems and explains why traditional beliefs no longer work. He discusses the qualities of complex social systems that call for managers to lead employees to understand how their jobs fit in the system.

The New World View - Key Concepts:

Doctrine that the universe was capable of being completely understood through analysis


The world as a machine

Work as learning and fun

Everything is a system

Analysis vs. synthesis

The Big Picture – Key Concepts:

Essential properties of any system are properties of the whole that none of its parts have

Development of a complex social system

Development vs. Growth

Development – Increasing ability to satisfy your needs and desires and those of others

In reviewing Russell Ackoff's Better Management videos, I found the concept of "Systems Thinking" highly insightful. There were three specific ideas discussed which helped me better understand the Systems Thinking concept. The first concept was Russell Ackoff's example of how the world has changed dramatically beginning with World War II. While life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900, the war efforts and changing workforce starting in 1945 dramatically altered how management had to appeal to workers in a different way. Prior to this time, the world was viewed as a machine stemming from the industrial revolution. Business owners appealed to the workforce primarily through their standard of living. However as part of the changing workforce involved with the war efforts, the world started to evolve away from the mechanical to a holistic social system where the importance of overall quality of life began to take shape. Additionally, public corporations started forming where the identity grew beyond an individual owner. As a result of these historic changes and many others, the traditional solutions of a mechanical world no longer applied to a changing world.



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