Beating the System

Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies

Russell Ackoff (Author) | Sheldon Rovin (Author)

Publication date: 05/06/2005

Beating the System
  • Provides practical, easy-to-use tactics and strategies for creatively beating any bureaucratic system that is trying to beat you
  • Full of entertaining real-world stories of people who have been frustrated by unresponsive systems and have successfully fought back
  • Coauthor Russell L. Ackoff is an internationally renowned pioneer in the world of systems thinking who has spent over 50 years studying how organizations work

The need to beat the many systems that compromise our quality of life goes without saying. When was the last time you dealt with a bureaucracy--a business, a government agency, a school, a hospital--and got a direct answer to a question or received a service you wanted without having to weave through a maze of infuriating hand-offs? Have you found these systems to be utterly indifferent to the inconvenience or hardship they cause? Want to learn how to beat them?

Beating the System shows you how. Coauthors Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin have spent their lives studying how organizational systems work, and here they share both perversely entertaining anecdotes about the abuse of individuals by a variety of bureaucracies, and descriptions of the creative--and deeply satisfying--approaches these people used to get even.

The authors begin by exploring how systems function and malfunction, where their weaknesses are, and what drives them. They then show that much of bureaucratic power is based on unchallenged assumptions--assumptions systems make about themselves and us, and assumptions we make about these systems and ourselves, and that challenging these assumptions is the essence of creativity and the first step in system beating. Ackoff and Rovin use stories to illustrate successful strategies and tactics for defying these assumptions and turning the tables on the many bureaucracies that frustrate us.

  • Provides practical, easy-to-use tactics and strategies for creatively beating any bureaucratic system that is trying to beat you
  • Full of entertaining real-world stories of people who have been frustrated by unresponsive systems and have successfully fought back
  • Coauthor Russell L. Ackoff is an internationally renowned pioneer in the world of systems thinking who has spent over 50 years studying how organizations work

Read more and meet author below


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9781576753309

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Overview

  • Provides practical, easy-to-use tactics and strategies for creatively beating any bureaucratic system that is trying to beat you
  • Full of entertaining real-world stories of people who have been frustrated by unresponsive systems and have successfully fought back
  • Coauthor Russell L. Ackoff is an internationally renowned pioneer in the world of systems thinking who has spent over 50 years studying how organizations work

The need to beat the many systems that compromise our quality of life goes without saying. When was the last time you dealt with a bureaucracy--a business, a government agency, a school, a hospital--and got a direct answer to a question or received a service you wanted without having to weave through a maze of infuriating hand-offs? Have you found these systems to be utterly indifferent to the inconvenience or hardship they cause? Want to learn how to beat them?

Beating the System shows you how. Coauthors Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin have spent their lives studying how organizational systems work, and here they share both perversely entertaining anecdotes about the abuse of individuals by a variety of bureaucracies, and descriptions of the creative--and deeply satisfying--approaches these people used to get even.

The authors begin by exploring how systems function and malfunction, where their weaknesses are, and what drives them. They then show that much of bureaucratic power is based on unchallenged assumptions--assumptions systems make about themselves and us, and assumptions we make about these systems and ourselves, and that challenging these assumptions is the essence of creativity and the first step in system beating. Ackoff and Rovin use stories to illustrate successful strategies and tactics for defying these assumptions and turning the tables on the many bureaucracies that frustrate us.

  • Provides practical, easy-to-use tactics and strategies for creatively beating any bureaucratic system that is trying to beat you
  • Full of entertaining real-world stories of people who have been frustrated by unresponsive systems and have successfully fought back
  • Coauthor Russell L. Ackoff is an internationally renowned pioneer in the world of systems thinking who has spent over 50 years studying how organizations work

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Russell Ackoff

Russell L. Ackoff is Anheuser-Busch Professor Emeritus of Management Science at the Wharton School, Distinguished Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Organizational Dynamics, and is on the advisory board of the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches, all at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of 22 books, including Redesigning Society (with Sheldon Rovin), Recreating the Corporation, and Ackoff's Best.



Visit Author Page - Sheldon Rovin

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Table of Contents

Part I: Prerequisites for System Beating
1. Why Systems Need to Be Beat (necessity mothers inversion)
2. Understanding Systems (knowledge without understanding is a misguided missile)
3. The Nature of Creativity (those in boxes can't think out of them)

Part II: System Beaters: Their Stories
4. Denying Assumptions
5. Turnabout Is Fair Play
6. Divide and Conquer
7. Threaten the System
8. Side-Step Constraints
9. When All Else Fails, Revolt

Part III: Beating Systems and Making Them Unbeatable
10. Rules of Thumb for System Beaters
11. Making Systems Unbeatable

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Endorsements

"Beating the system is a profession of necessity for most professionals. Best to learn the tips from a master. No one has contributed more to systems thinking in management than Russell Ackoff. Who better to offer a lifetime of insight into how management systems work and how to keep them from preventing creative work? Maybe if there are enough 'system beaters' like Ackoff and Rovin, we'll have more systems that do not need to be beaten."
--Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, and Founding Chair, Society for Organizational Learning

"I loved the book and read every blessed word of it, savored it, and recommended it to virtually every sentient person I know who works in an organized setting."
--Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Managemet, University of Southern California, and author of On Becoming a Leader and Geeks and Geezers

"The fascinating real life stories in Beating the System reveal the ways the world works and doesn't work through the eyes of the world's preeminent systems thinkers, and gives practical insights and valuable advice on how to stay in control of your life despite the frustrating obstacles created by the complex and often broken systems which surround our daily lives."
--Ray Stata, Chairman of the Board, Analog Devices

"The stories are real and captivating, the analysis is excellent, and the solutions are powerful and actionable. The reasoning behind everything is profound."
--Chris Argyris, James Bryant Conant Professor of Education and Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School

"Beating the System is not just informative, it's also fun to read. And for those of us who sometimes let ourselves get pushed around because we don't want to make trouble, this book teaches us how to stop being wimps!"
--Michael Maccoby, author of The Productive Narcissist: the Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership

"This book provides the reader with steps to take while the bureaucratic organizations gets their act together...and in doing so might cause them to act for the better--faster."
--Vincent P. Barabba, former General Manager, Corporate Strategy and Knowledge Development, General Motors

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