Posts Tagged ‘Russell L. Ackoff’

Tradition and Progress

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Continuing on with a series of posts fueled by the inspirational content in Scott Berkun’s newly minted “The Year Without Pants“, let’s explore the relationship between tradition and progress:

There is nothing wrong with tradition until you want progress: progress demands change, and change demands a reevaluation of what the traditions are for and how they are practiced…. The responsibility of people in power is to continually eliminate useless traditions and introduce valuable ones. An organization where nothing ever changes is not a workplace but a living museum. – Scott Berkun

In poorly led institutions, as the number of management (“management” is simply a euphemism for “control“) layers increases, new “special interest” traditions are continuously introduced into the environment whilst old and useless rituals are rarely eliminated. Policies, directives, processes, procedures, taxes, fees, laws – pick your poison. The pile of behavior constraining rules just gets bigger and bigger, suffocating all intrinsic motivation and instilling learned helplessness. Damn, that Kafka dude got it right. So did Ackoff:

It is easier to start something new than it is to stop something old – Russell Ackoff.


Num Rules

Protocol Deterioration

April 15, 2012 1 comment

Russ Ackoff once said something like: “A system is not the sum of its parts. It’s the product of its part-interactions“. With that Ackoffism in mind, lo and behold the slooow and relentless process of inter-part protocol deterioration.

What state are your org protocols in? “Whoo Hoo!“, “Uh Oh!“, “D’oh!“, orI Dunno!“?

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