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Beating the System

Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies

Russell L. Ackoff, Sheldon Rovin


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When was the last time you dealt with a bureaucracy—the phone company, an airline, a hospital, school, or government agency—and got what you wanted without weaving through a maze of infuriating hand-offs? Have you found these systems to be utterly indifferent to the inconvenience or hardship they cause?

Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin say, "Enough is enough!" They have extensively studied organizational systems—how they function and malfunction, what drives them, and where their weaknesses are. Here they share both perversely entertaining anecdotes about the abuse of individuals by various bureaucracies and detail the creative—and deeply satisfying—approaches these people used to get even. Best of all, they offer successful strategies and tactics you can use to pinpoint the weakness of any system and exploit it to your advantage.

Praise For Beating the System: Using Creativity to Outsmart Bureaucracies

“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 Management at USC and author of On Becoming a Leader and Geeks and Geezers

"No one has contributed more to systems thinking in management than Russell Ackoff and Sheldon Rovin. Who better to offer a lifetime of insight into how systems work and how to keep them from preventing creative work?"
—Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and Founding Chair, Society for Organizational Learning

”Two of the most thoughtful people on Systems Thinking have taken the courageous step of pointing out what you can do when the entity or activity in which you are seeking a product or service is not operating at the level of systemic interaction the authors have spent much of their lives attempting to create.”
—Vincent P. Barabba, former General Manager, Corporate Strategy and Knowledge Development, General Motors

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 9781576753309, 192pp.

Publication Date: June 12, 2005

About the Author

Russell L. Ackoff is Anheuser-Busch Professor Emeritus of Management Science at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sheldon Rovin is Emeritus Professor of Healthcare Systems at the Wharton School of Business.