IDEALIZED DESIGN. Creating an Organization’s Future. Russell L. Ackoff. Jason Magidson. Herbert J. Addison. Prentice Hall. In this chapter, we look at the stages in idealized design because success .. of the GM Strategic Initiatives group, who worked with Ackoff on problems at GM. by Herbert J. Addison, Jason Magidson, Russell L. Ackoff Russell Ackoff, and leading practitioner Jason Magidson, Idealized Design covers every facet of this .

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It was minutes before I could understand him. There were ten keys, one for each digit, a register, and a red key in the lower-right corner. How to Dissolve Tomorrow’s Crisis This means we cannot use any but currently available knowledge. As you will see, its use has been extensive and is still growing. But we ran dry. Nor did he appear on time. idealizdd

Idealized Design — To solve a problem, start with the ideal solution

It must respect current laws and relevant regulations. He asked for one more suggestion. We have given it a code name that is being kept secret for now. If we knew what we would do with virtually no constraints, we could modify it, if necessary, to become feasible and adapt it to changing internal and external conditions as time goes on.

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Idealized Design: Creating an Organization’s Future [Book]

Addison build upon a simple notion. I called him using the phone in the room. Therefore, gentlemen, we are going to begin by designing the system with which we would replace the existing system right now if we were free to replace it with whatever system we wanted, subject to only two not-very-restrictive constraints.

An amazing thing happened; in less than an hour, we found a way, conceptually, to reduce, if not eliminate, such errors. It began to dawn on all of us that his behavior had been a trick. They sent two young men down to our meeting.

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We were furious but decided to let it pass for the time being. The room was dead silent. It so happened that on the day of my visit he and other managers had been summoned to an important — but last-minute — conference by the vice president of Bell Labs. Russell Ackoff, a pioneer of systems thinking, has formulated the latter approach and calls it Idealized Design. The phone was to be used as follows. I had to convince him otherwise. Again he revealed that it was before We continued to add to this list for several weeks, ending with just more than ninety properties we wanted a phone to have.

The idea behind having these two constraints is that we are creating a design for today, not the future.

Idealized Design: Creating an Organization’s Future

What a learning experience it was! Several weeks later, the young men appeared at one of our sessions looking sheepish and apologetic. It turned out that he had been doing work on wrong numbers for a number of years, and I was the first one to ask him about it.

Fortunately, the group decided this was too rare to be of concern but that the percentage of wrong numbers of each type was of concern. This experience is a convincing example ackkff how idealized design can literally move mountains of change.

As we described what we were trying to cesign, they began to whisper to each other and were soon more absorbed in their private conversation than in what we were saying. There are only two constraints we should limit ourselves with. Idealized design is a way of thinking about change that is deceptively simple to state: He pressed on, asking for another candidate.

Each group will select a representative to meet with other representatives at least once a week to discuss interactions. We were very pleased with ourselves, but nevertheless we recognized that we did not know whether such a phone was technologically feasible.


The impact of the design we produced was greater than the impact of any other effort to change a system that I had ever seen. The other constraint is that the design must be capable of surviving the current environment.

This would clear the phone, and one would start over. We arrived at a typical classroom that held about forty people and was almost full. We did not want to take the time to explain. The vice president looked up and glowered at the group. Which group do you think would come up with better solutions? He called on one of those with a raised hand. He was obviously very upset. Next time you need to solve a problem, eesign yourself or with a group of people, start by imagining an ideal.

At this point, I almost destroyed my credibility in the group by pointing out that there were two kinds of wrong numbers. He then looked down again. The vice president was not there yet.

In solving problems of virtually any kind, the way to get the best outcome is to imagine what the ideal solution would be and then work backward to where you are today. Appeals against a federal court ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act could pave the way for full-fledged health care reforms, say experts. He was a big man, extroverted, and voluble.

All eyes turned to it, and there he was. He exploded at the end of the line. Sign up for the weekly Knowledge Wharton e-mail newsletter, offering business leaders cutting-edge research and ideas from Wharton faculty and other experts.