Towards a System of Systems Concepts
Russell Ackoff. 1971. (View Paper → )
The concepts and terms commonly used to talk about systems have not themselves been organised into a system. An attempt to do so is made here. Systems and the most important types of systems are defined so that differences and similarities are made explicit. Particular attention is given to the type of system that is of most interest to management scientists: organisations. The relationship between a system and its parts is considered, and a proposition is put forward that all systems are either variety-increasing or variety-decreasing relative to the behaviour of their parts.
This paper provides insights into systems thinking, clarifies systems terminology, and offers a framework for understanding and analysing complex systems, particularly in organisations. The insights have implications for optimising system performance and problem-solving.