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.


[Mistake 2:] Managers need all the information they want. Most MIS designers "determine" what information is needed by asking managers what information they would like to have. This is based on the assumption that managers know what information they need and want.


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.


I do not deny that most managers lack a good deal of information that they should have, but I do deny that this is the most important informational deficiency from which they suffer. It seems to me that they suffer more from an overabundance of irrelevant information.


A problem never exists in isolation; it is surrounded by other problems in space and time. The more of the context of a problem that a scientist can comprehend, the greater are his chances of finding a truly adequate solution.


Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes. Problems are extracted from messes by analysis. Managers do not solve problems, they manage messes.


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


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


The systems approach to problems focuses on systems taken as a whole, not on their parts taken separately. Such an approach is concerned with total-system performance even when a change in only one or a few of its parts is contemplated because there are some properties of systems that can only be treated adequately from a holistic point of view. These properties derive from the relationship between parts of systems: how the parts interact and fit together


Most corporate mission statements are worthless. They consist largely of pious platitudes such as: "We will hold ourselves to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior." They often formulate necessities as objectives; for example, "to achieve sufficient profit." This is like a person saying his mission is to breathe sufficiently.