Books : reviews

Russell L. Ackoff, Herbert J. Addison, Sally Bibb.
Management f-Laws: how organizations really work.
Triarchy Press. 2007

We’ve ail heard of Sod’s Law. Most of us know Parkinson’s Law. Now Management f-LAWS brings together a collection of Professor Russell Ackoff’s subversive insights about the world of business. Russell Ackoff is one of the world’s top business brains and his f-Laws expose the established conventions and laws of management – the hierarchies and power struggles, the ineptitudes and time-wasting, the prejudices and careless thinking – as flaws of management: all of which hinder change and development.

With wit and wisdom, Ackoff and his co-author, Herbert Addison, set out the uncomfortable truth about how organizations really work and get us thinking about how to change our own organizations and management practices for the better. In response, Sally Bibb – author, Director of Group Sales Development for the Economist Group and an enthusiastic pioneer of change – examines and challenges their ironic and provocative claims.

The resulting conversation will appeal to readers at every level of the organizational hierarchy as well as those who resist hierarchy altogether.

Russell L. Ackoff, Herbert J. Addison, Andrew Carey.
Systems Thinking for Curious Managers: with 40 new management f-laws.
Triarchy Press. 2010

This gem of a book introduces the extraordinary world of Systems Thinking and its “Dean”, Russell Ackoff, to curious and enquiring managers, teachers, business people – anyone, anywhere who works in an organization.

Finished just before Professor Ackoff’s death late in 2009, it opens the door to a joined up way of thinking about things that has profoundly influenced thinkers and doers in the fields of business, politics, economics, ecology, biology and psychology.

In business and academia, in the public sector and in the search for solutions to the environmental problems we face, both Systems Thinking and Russell Ackoff are being talked about more than ever.

This timely book presents 40 more of Russ Ackoff’s famously witty and incisive f-Laws (or flaws) of business – following on from his 2007 collection Management f-Laws. All those in this collection are new and previously unpublished. Andrew Carey’s extended introduction ties these f-Laws into the rest of Ackoff’s work and gives the reader new to Systems Thinking a guide to the implications of Systems Thinking for organizations and managers.