Inner Circle -> Whole circle LO12116

Michael D. Townes (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 22:39:20 -0600

Replying to LO12079 --


Dr. Ackoff has certainly 'earned the right' to make broad statements about
how change ought best be accomplished. However, I feel that my personal
EXPERIENCE of 15+ years in the trenches has also given me some insights.
While I would agree that systems thinking is required or necessary for
understanding in a meaningful way, analytical thinkking is also required.
I suspect that Dr. Ackoff would context his comment in the notion that it
is far easier or commonplace to find the analytical piece being
accomplished. However, one can also encounter the situations where a
profound systems understanding appears to be in place and yet folks lack
some of the fine details essential to the task of meaningful change.

Inner and outer circles, if I undestand the context, refers to nested
wholes. What must be studied for understanding depends upon what one is
wanting to understand. To lead, plan and manage meaningful tranformation,
one must have a profound knowledge of the system at at several levels.
While some have the patience to gain this understanding without any
particular timeline, many others have a environmentally-driven impatience
to 'get on with it.' I usually suggest that they begin by understanding
customer requirements and what gaps exist in delivering those
expectations. Following the chain upstream, seeking root causes, one will
be driven toward more macro views at times and more micro views at others.

How do I know when I have enough? When I know enough to say that the
process is in control and is delivering/meeting/(exceeding) customer
requirements and can be counted on to continue same and I have the data or
means to defend same.

... Clear as mud, eh? Best way to clarify is by way of real example...
Best regards,

Linda O.; wrote:

> Johanna said,"I don't see this inner circle either."
> Wasn't it Dr. Russell Ackoff who said something about the way to understand
> something is not by taking it apart but by seeing it as a whole? Synthesis
> vs. Analysis.

Michael D. 'Mike' Townes, Quality Specialist
US Postal Service, Southwest Area
PO Box 225459, Dallas, TX  75222-5459    (214) 819-8797

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