Problem def (Schön, 1995)

13 October 2010

Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consists of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes. Problems are abstractions extracted from messes by analysis; they are to messes as atoms are to tables and charts … Managers do not solve problems, they manage messes.”  (Ackoff, 1979, s. 93)

Ackoff argues that operations research has allowed itself to become identified with techniques, mathematical models, and algorithms, rather than with “the ability to formulate management problems, solve them, and implement and maintain their solutions in turbulent environments.” (Ibid, s. 94)

Problems are interconnected, environments are turbulent, and the future is indeterminate just in so far as managers can shape it by their actions. What is called for, under these conditions, is not only the analytic techniques which have been traditional in operations research, but the active, synthetic skill of “designing a desirable future and inventing ways of bringing it about.” (Ibid, s. 100)

Donald A. Shön (1995, s. 16)

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It’s a mess (Ackoff, 1979)

12 October 2010

Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consists of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes. Problems are abstractions extracted from messes by analysis; they are to messes as atoms are to tables and charts … Managers do not solve problems, they manage messes.

Russell Ackoff (1979, s. 93)