Quotes by Russell Ackoff

the performance of the whole is never the sum of the performance of the parts taken separately, but it's the product of their interactions.

A system is never the sum of its parts its the product of their interaction.

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

In a system the best way to treat a problem is seldom where the problem appears, because of the interactions of the parts.

A good deal of the corporate planning I have observed is like a ritual rain dance; it has no effect on the weather that follows, but those who engage in it think it does. Moreover, it seems to me that much of the advice and instruction related to corporate planning is directed at improving the dancing, not the weather.

Effective management must be directed at what you want, not against what you don't want.

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.

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.

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.

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.