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Idealized Design

Russell Ackoff describes the process of “Idealized Design” as follows:

In this process those who formulate the vision begin by assuming that the system being redesigned was completely destroyed last night, but its environment remains exactly as it was. Then they try to design that system with which they would replace the existing system right now if they were free to replace it with any system they wanted.

The basis for this process lies in the answer to two questions. First, if one does not know what one would do if one could do whatever one wanted without constraint, how can one possibly know what to do when there are constraints? Second, if one does not know what one wants right now how can one possibly know what they will want in the future?

An idealized redesign is subject to two constraints and one design principle: technological feasibility and  operational viability, and it is required to be able to learn and adapt rapidly and effectively.

So, are you ready to blow up your system? Nah, tis better to keep the unfathomable, inefficient, ineffective beast (under continuous assault from the second law of thermo) alive and unwell. It’s easier and less risky and requires no work. And hey, we can still have fun complaining about it.

  1. Chris
    September 19, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Hahaha – “Boom” – that’s graphic!
    Verrry nice, makes me think good ol’ Ackoff isn’t always spot on (actually he’s talking about some kind of reengineering, isn’t he? And I thought he didn’t like that …).

    • September 19, 2012 at 4:55 am

      Thanks for stopping by Chris. “Idealized Design” is a process developed by Russ himself – so I think he liked it.

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