R.L. ACKOFF ironically observed recently that "managers suffer from panacea overload" (1994, p.43-6).
He argues that popular management panaceas do not work, most of the time, because they are applied anti-systemically. His diagnosis is as follows: "These failures have two principal sources. First, they manipulate the parts of systems without regard to how their manipulations affect the whole through interactions of the parts. Second, they tend to do the wrong thing righter rather than the right things" (p.43).
ACKOFF proposes the following systemic rules for management of an organization:
"1. Allow any part to change itself in any way that does not affect the performance of any other part, or the whole, provided the part has the resources necessary to make the change.
"2. If the change a part wants to make affects one or more other parts and either improve or does not affect the performance of the whole, it is allowed to make the change if it obtains the agreement of the affected parts.
"3. If it does not obtain the agreement of the affected parts the issue can be taken for resolution to the lowest level of management at which the parts converge.
"4. If a part has the necessary agreement but does not have the necessary resources to implement the change, it must try to obtain the resources it requires from the lowest level of management that has the resources it requires.
"Adherence to these rules requires continuous monitoring – a function that can appropriately be assigned to the organization's planning unit. It should be noted that these rules also operationalize the meaning of "empowerment" (p.45).
All this is about maintaining the internal coherence of the organization. More must be said about its interrelations with its environment.
ACKOFF's principles do refer to the internal management of the organization. However, even if perfectly managed in function of the goals and needs of the organization and its members, the final result can be disastrous if the external global conditions of its survival are not permanently monitored and taken into account. Every member of the organization should be duly informed and made conscious of this very fundamental aspect and correspondingly act in a responsible way.
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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