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am 5. Juli 1999
Gharajedaghi's book is not only a necessary addition to any systems library, but a MUST for everyone's hip pocket - whether doctor, lawyer, cleric, business person, nurse, educator and human being living now. Gharajedaghi has provided the conceptual framework and operational methodology in an exceptionally readable, and very useable text. This book is not the typical "how to" book, giving steps to follow; but provides the depth theory and background necessary for user UNDERSTANDING now, and frees the user to design and create interventions well into the 21st century. If you are interested in "making sense" out of the chaos and complexity around you; if you are interested in providing the necessary structure, process, and function that equates to a new business architecture in your environment, then you have found the best resource in this book. It is most inclusive, it goes from A to Z, and further you will not find as comparable and complete a resource anywhere, for it readys you for the 21st century. Thus check your hip pocket, and add SYSTEMS THINKING: MANAGING CHAOS AND COMPLEXITY:A PLATFORM FOR DESIGNING BUSINESS ARCHITECTURE, if necessary.
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am 31. Oktober 1999
This is an absolutely amazing book that should be required reading for all consultants (technical and business). I work in the computer industry and have amassed a large library of reference material and books on nearly every subject from project management to technical tomes (databases, operating systems, networking, programming, etc.) This book goes to the top of the list as one of the most influential works that I have read in the past 25 years. Regardless of what your areas of expertise are (technical or business) I strongly recommend that you purchase this book and make the time to read it from cover-to-cover.
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am 25. Oktober 1999
This book will be considered one of the break through works on systems thinking. Gharajedaghi has brought profound wisdom to the printed word and provided examples of its application in several settings. The book's approach to managing chaos and complexity will help us to evolve to the next level of sophistication with our systems.
It is not a light read - expect to be intellectually challenged and somewhat daunted by the depth of thought. It may take several reads to assimilate the concepts presented by the author. Any one of the major concepts could be a book in and of itself. The "beauty" of the book is the integration of the concepts in an understandable and usable format. The description of the operational methods with which to practically apply this approach in the real world is the gift that Gharajedaghi gives us with this work. My profound appreciation to the author for his willingness to share his wisdom.
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am 5. April 1999
In a world drowning in a lot of mostly useless information, at last this outstanding yet accessible work from one of the leading social systems thinkers, educators and practitioners, one who not only makes coherent and comprehensive sense of the complexity and apparent chaos characterizing our new realities, but provides us with the operational principles and methodology for managing change and creatively co-designing a desired future, both in business creation and transformation toward an order of magnitude improvement in the pursuit and performance of multiple concurrent ends, as well as in community and national development.
Outlined systematically in this work by Gharajedaghi, is a conceptual and operational methodology that is indeed applicable to any type of social system, whether a business corporation, government institution, community or nation. It is a vehicle for understanding and learning how to do more with less, and achieving not only higher levels of economic performance, but also quality of life, learning and development for the members of our organizations and communities, who are after all, the true 'ends' which our productive efforts should serve.
Here you will not find simplistic 12 step programmes and gimmicks clothed in the latest buzzword terminology but which bring no true understanding of social systems and their dynamics, but a meaningful, comprehensive understanding of how social systems work and how they can be participatively transformed to serve our human purposes and needs. The author deals not only with economic variables, but also those pertaining to power (participation; beauty, (that which excites and inspires people); human values (culture); and knowledge (our pursuit of truth and understanding), and how they collectively and interactively, define the nature of a society or business. Visible also is his own compassion and appreciation for people's efforts to create a better world, an understanding that has allowed him to create a truly human systems approach, and one which inspires others to have the courage to do what so far, only the 'gutsy few' have done.
This work, in moving from systems philosophy and theory, to a method for understanding and designing social systems, explained in accessible language and concepts which make sense of what otherwise must seem complex and obscure, is about learning to do, learning to learn, and learning to be - a way to understand and create truely multidimensional organizational and societal development, not the tunnel-visioned fixation on financial performance to the detriment of all else.
This bootstrapping integration of theory and practice in one congruent and consistent methodology, is something which no systems methodology has thus far achieved in comparable depth and breadth, placing effectiveness ('doing the right things'- or ENDS)in primacy over the single-minded pursuit of efficiency ('doing it right'- or MEANS), the latter invariably occurring at the expense of people and the natural environment in the absence of a systemic methodology - and something which virtually all management 'solutions' out there in the market continue to pursue despite lip-service to the contrary. The purveyors of quick-fix solutions and 'panaceas' may apologize (belatedly) for the societal and real human suffering caused by downsizing and 'hardwire' reengineering 'solutions', but few aside from Gharajedaghi, Ackoff, Senge, Banathy and a handful of other systems thinkers, have sought to create and develop (to the level of operational applicability), a way of overcoming the dilemma of inverting technological means over human ends, which is the source of so much of our societal dysfunction.
In this methodology, aimed at the present and coming global development and business challenges in which knowledge, understanding, and dare one say it, wisdom, are critical requirements, people are seen not as 'costs to be minimized', but embodied capital, and an organization and nation's chief asset, since they bring to their work and communities, the irreplaceable, namely their time, creativity and commitment.
Gharajedaghi brings a multidimensional and coherent conceptual light that allows us to see the dynamic patterns behind the turbulent and ever-changing detail characterizing social and economic reality. This work is based on more than 30 years of systemic thought and hands-on, ongoing learning experience in the transformation of business enterprises and national development planning. It comes to grips with the nature of change, itself a complex and multidimensional reality, and demonstrates how counterintuitively, success is transformed to failure in a changed environment.
This leads to questions of how we can understand and manage the multiple dimensions and change drivers that coproduce economic and social complexity, and the criteria which should define 'success'. He also explores the nature and meaning of management, planning and leadership for this and the coming era, a domain where linear thinking and socalled 'tried and tested' piece-meal analytical solutions create more problems and more intractable ones, than they solve, as each addresses single variables in a type of system (a social, open, dynamic one) where 'multimindedness'and the increase in differentiation behavior, is its chief feature - (each person has choice and the ability to influence the system, and knows it, yet at the same time, needs the larger systems of which they are a part), and therefore interdependence of the whole, AND autonomy of its parts, BOTH need to be accommodated, in organizations no less than in the broader society.
This multidimensional reality, characterised by emergent behaviors and phenomena that cannot be understood through analysis of its parts, requires the ability to manage 'paradox', to stomach high levels of ambiguity, and to integrate what appears to be contradictory, but are in fact complementary tendencies. Such a talent is about managing interactions, not controlling the actions of people and parts of a system.
This work represents a dual paradigm shift - one in our thinking, in the form of a shift from analytical displinary knowledge to systemic understanding; and one in our modes of organization, from organismic and mechanistic, fixed structural solutions, which create ongoing conflict between 'management and labor', as well as between society and nature - to a flexible, adaptive learning model, characterized by membership and the integration of authority and responsbility in every part' of the organization, the only way to achieve true accountability, both in business and society.
Gharajedaghi's systemic interpretive framework allows us to see the nature of the 'mess' in which we are embedded, an interacting system of problems, its dynamics, dimensions, and the governing principles which codefine social systems of any kind. It shows us, both through its conceptual framework, and the application of these principles in business design and national development projects undertaken by INTERACT, how businesses and communities can interactively and iteratively, create their desired future on an ongoing basis.
We see also that organizations in government and business do not have to 'die' as people do, but can continually recreate their products, services, processes and organizational structures to accommodate and function within a rapidly changing environment.
The principle of iteration, which we see also in chaos theory, where complex patterns emerge from the iteration of simple equations, is a central concept in this methodology, both in our mode of inquiry and in design, where depth and detail are added with each new iteration, and where former assumptions and specifications can be redefined and re-examined continually through a process of second-order (social) learning.
The model of organization developed here, is highly flexible and modular, based on internal market principles, and on the purposes and values of its members and the broader community it serves. It is one where the trauma, conflict and dislocation of periodic restructuring and reorganization are bypassed, and where conflict is dissolved through ongoing learning, participation in the formulation of decision criteria, and iterative design addressing three levels of purposeful human behavior, namely those of an organization or community's members, its management and owners, and the stakeholders in its containing environment.
Jamshid Gharajedaghi has brought new resolution, depth and dimensionality to a social systems methodology long in the making and remaking, by himself, his colleagues at INTERACT (The Institute for Interactive Management in Philadelphia, of which he is the President and CEO); through his collaboration with Russell Ackoff (founder and Chairman of the Board of INTERACT) and others, and through his own experience in working with a diverse array of clients in business and governments, in many countries. Some of these experiences and organizational and development transformation projects (Oneida Indian Nation, Butterworth Health Systems, Commonwealth Energy
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Gharajedaghi's book will become one of the cornerstones of systems thinking. It presents basic systems concepts in a comprehensive and understandable manner. It then shows how these concepts should be applied to the design of organizations that wish to thrive in the "new world" environment. The book begins with theory, then moves to the nuts-and-bolts of organization architecture. Afterwards, it provides detailed case studies of the work done in organizations from a range of social sectors - health care, power, equipment manufacturing, hotel/motel/resort, community development -- to demonstrate the generic quality of the systems approach. The book might take extra effort for the novice, but it is the kind of work that students keep coming back to again and again as light bulbs go on in their heads. Gharajedaghi has made an important contribution.
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am 17. November 1999
If you had to own only one "systems thinking book". This would be the one! Not a wasted page or word. Every page takes you through some of the the most comprehensive ideas contained in systems thinking of the last 40 years. I echo the other reviews. Obviously Mr. Gharajedaghi and Dr. Ackoff have taken advantage of their time teaching together and synergized sytems thinking to the next level.
A masterpiece, that takes at least 4 reads to truly appreciate the depth of content contained within.
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