Breaking From the Pack

Abstract:Russ Ackoff’s life story parallels the development of systems thinking over the past 60 years. Ackoff, who died in October 2009, began his career in operations research, but shifted his focus to the development of a purposeful approach to systems. His disenchantment with intense analytical models led to his becoming an advocate for a more participative systems approach. Although Ackoff was a great influence on other noted thinkers in his field, he rejected the title of guru, preferring instead to encourage others to adapt his ideas in seeking their own solutions. A sidebar article provides a brief synopsis of Ackoff’s …

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Excellent. Well thought out, well presented.
--David Harris, 03-17-2010

I've been a true believer in systems thinking for many years. I kept noticing references to Dr. Ackoff's work and decided I should go to the source directly. I've posted a few videos of Dr. Ackoff explaining some of his ideas @ (the piece on Dr. Ackoff begins at the 1:21 mark of the BBC clip).

Kudos to Greg and to ASQ for doing this.
--Robert Damelio, 03-11-2010

To the editor:

Thank you for publishing Gregory Watson's excellent tribute to the late Dr. Russell L. Ackoff. As a student of his for more than 45 years, I have not read a better short description of Russ's themes.

Those who knew him will miss his amazing powers of explanation, of story telling, of challenging students (often to their dismay), and his ability to engage deeply with people at all levels of rank and status all over the world.

Professor Russell L. Ackoff, a fine man and an amazing teacher, will be missed.

Very sincerely,

Martin F. Stankard, Affiliated Faculty
Center for Organizational Dynamics
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
--Martin F. Stankard, 03-09-2010

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