If you would limit yourself to paying attention to 5 thinkers to advance your understanding of managing organizations Ackoff should be one of them. Of course, many managers don’t even try to learn from 5 leading management thinkers to do their jobs better over their career. So for many people just learning from Ackoff, Deming, Scholtes etc. they would be far ahead of the path they are now for their career. Of course you are not limited to learning from 5 people so you can learn from more if you want to be a better manager and leader.
I probably remember a great deal from maybe 5 talks from the more than 5 years I attended the Hunter Conference (and they were the best conferences I have attended – this might explain why the last conference I attended was maybe 7 years ago). This was one of them. And I realized that Ackoff was someone I could learn a great deal from and it caused me to learn a great deal from Russ Ackoff over the next decade.
Watch the video for much more but the basic idea of idealized design is to create a new design for a product, service or the organization based on existing feasibility but without the constraints of the existing setup. Then you can use that ideal to figure out a plan to move from the existing state to that idealized design. Russell Ackoff co-authored a good book on the topic: Idealized Design.
A Case Study Madison, Wisconsin (1981-1993)
Step 1: Educate and inform everyone in the organization about the vision, the goals, and Quality Leadership. This step must be passionately led by the top leader.
Begin discussion with top management team and train them.
Discuss and ask employees; get feedback from them.
Share feedback with the chief and his management team.
Get buy-in from top department managers.
Survey external customers—citizens; those who live and work in the community.
Create an employee’s advisory council; ask, listen, inform, and keep them up to date on what’s going on.
The chief keeps on message; tells, sells, and persuades, newsletters, meetings and all available media.
Step 2: Prepare for the transformation. Before police services to the community can be improved, it is essential to prepare the inside first — to cast a bold vision and to have leaders that would “walk the talk.”
Appoint a top-level, full-time coordinator to train, coach, and assist in the transformation.
Form another employee council to work through problems and barriers encountered during implementation of the transformation and Quality Leadership.
Require anyone who seeks to be a leader to have the knowledge and ability to practice Quality Leadership.
Step 3: Teach Quality Leadership. This begins at the top with the chief and the chief’s management team.
Train all organizational leaders in Quality Leadership.
Train all employees as to what Quality Leadership is, why the transformation is necessary, and what it means for them.
Step 4: Start practicing Quality Leadership. If top managers within the organization are not authentically practicing Quality Leadership neither will anyone else.