"A system of problems that cannot be decomposed in more simple problems… which themselves are minimesses" (R.L. ACKOFF, 1974, p.21).
"By "mess" ACKOFF means that every human problem is associated and involved inextricably with every other human problem" (I.I. MITROFF and H.A. LINSTONE, 1993, p.47-8).
Messes are quite frequent in technical, economical and socio-political systems, and result of their complexity and nonlinear character, which are neither perceived, nor taken into account.
Specific action on one or some few elements selected within the system does not normally produce the forecasted or expected effects, because it is taken unknowingly against some other functional needs of the system.
Messes have a tendency to expand very far from their origin in space and time, and to pop up again under unexpected aspects.
However, a mess may also offer new opportunities to an acute manager.
ACKOFF has given a considerable number of examples of messes that he met in his career as a consultant.
The basic requeriment to manage a mess and make it produce opportunities is trying to focuse it from an original angle, which can be understood and appreciated by all stakeholders.
In the numerous cases in which a mess affects a natural system or an artificial technological one, human components playa most generally basic role.
- 1) General information
- 2) Methodology or model
- 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
- 4) Human sciences
- 5) Discipline oriented
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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