Michael C. Jackson

systems scientist

Michael C. Jackson (born 1951) is a British systems scientist, consultant and Emeritus Professor of Management Systems at the Hull University Business School.

Quotes edit

  • A.D. Hall's (1962) classic account of the methodology was based on his experience with the Bell Telephone Laboratories. Hall sees systems as existing in hierarchies. In systems engineering, plans to achieve a general objective must similarly be arranged in a hierarchy, with the systems engineer ensuring the internal consistency and integration of the plans, The methodology itself ensures the optimization of the system of concern with respect to its objectives. This requires a number of steps, the most important being problem definition, choosing objectives, systems synthesis, systems analysis, systems selection, system development, and current engineering. With Hall, the system of concern is usually a physical entity.
    • Michael C. Jackson (1992) Systems Methodology for the Management Sciences. p. 74; About A.D. Hall (1962)
  • Hard systems thinking is also accused of conservatism. It privileges the values and interests of its clients and customers, and lends its apparent expertise to their realization. It thus gives the facade of objectivity to changes that help to secure the status quo. In general terms, despite its many strengths and achievements, hard systems thinking is today thought of as having a limited domain of application.
    • Michael C. Jackson (2007) Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers. p. 62

Creative Problem Solving: Total Systems Intervention (1991) edit

Robert L. Flood and Jackson (1991) Creative Problem Solving: Total Systems Intervention Chichester, Wiley.

  • In the modern systems approach, the concept "system" is used not to refer to things in the world but to a particular way of organising our thoughts about the world.
    • p. 2
  • We consider the notion of "system" as an organising concept, before going on to look in detail at various systemic metaphors that may be used as a basis for structuring thinking about organisations and problem situations.
    • p. 2

Towards a System of Systems Methodologies (1984) edit

Michael C. Jackson and P. Keys (1984) "Towards a System of Systems Methodologies." Journal of the Operations Research Society, Vol. 35 (1984), no. 6, 473-486

  • The problem solver needs to stand back and examine problem contexts in the light of different “Ws” (weltanschauungen). Perhaps he can then decide which “W” seems to capture the essence of the particular problem context he is faced with. This whole process needs formalizing if it is to be carried out successfully. The problem solver needs to be aware of different paradigms in the social sciences, and he must be prepared to view the problem context through each of these paradigms.
    • p. 473
  • Operational research OR is regarded by many as being in crisis. If OR is taken to be ‘classical OR’, this is indisputable … If, however, the definition of OR is widened to embrace other systems-based methodologies for problem solving, then a diversity of approaches may herald not crisis, but increased competence and effectiveness in a variety of different problem contexts.
    • As cited in Jackson (2007, p. 15)

Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers (2003) edit

Michael C. Jackson (2007) Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers.

  • The traditional, scientific method for studying such systems is known as reductionism. Reductionism sees the parts as paramount and seeks to identify the parts, understand the parts and work up from an understanding of the parts to an understanding of the whole. The problem with this is that the whole often seems to take on a form that is not recognizable from the parts. The whole emerges from the interactions between the parts, which affect each other through complex networks of relationships. Once it has emerged, it is the whole that seems to give meaning to the parts and their interactions. A living organism gives meaning to the heart, liver and lungs; a family to the roles of husband, wife, son, daughter
    • p. 3-4
  • There exists an alternative to reductionism for studying systems. This alternative is known as holism. Holism considers systems to be more than the sum of their parts. It is of course interested in the parts and particularly the networks of relationships between the parts, but primarily in terms of how they give rise to and sustain in existence the new entity that is the whole whether it be a river system, an automobile, a philosophical system or a quality system.
    • p. 4
  • The classical Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, established some important systems ideas. Aristotle reasoned that the parts of the body only make sense in terms of the way they function to support the whole organism and used this biological analogy to consider how individuals need to be related to the State. Plato was interested in how the notion of control, or the art of steersmanship (kybernetes), could be applied both to vessels and the State. Ships had to be steered safely toward harbour by a helmsman. A similar role needed to be followed in societies if they were to prosper.
    • p. 4

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