Sunday Quotes : Russel Ackoff

Systems thinking not only erases the boundaries between the points of view that define the sciences and professions, it also erases the boundary between science and the humanities. Science, I believe, consists of the search for similarities among things that are apparently different; the humanities consist of the search for differences among things that are apparently similar. Science and the humanities are the head and tail of reality—viewable separately, but not separable. It is for this reason that I have come to refer to the study of systems as part of the “scianities.”

This quote is taken from a speech the System Thinking expert and Wharton School teacher gave at Villanova University.

This is a very profound quote, though quite long and difficult to remember. IMHO, this articulation between science and humanities is at the very heart  of organizations complexity, organizations that Edgar Schein refer as socio-technical systems. Hence the relevance of System Thinking to fix our organizations.

Many thanks to Pierre Pezziardi for sharing this.

There are quite a few other wonderful quotes that can be taken from this inspiring speech.

On System Thinking :

Systems thinking is holistic; it attempts to derive understanding of parts from the behavior and properties of wholes, rather than derive the behavior and properties of wholes from those of their parts.

A quote from Albert Einstein :

“Without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought.”

The obvious, I discovered, is not what needs no proof, but what people do not want to prove.

The perceived need to learn something new is inversely proportional to the rank of a manager. Those at the top feel obliged to pretend to omniscience, and therefore refuse to learn anything new even if the cost of doing so is success.


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