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November 20, 2009

F-Laws, Russell Ackoff, and 'Moving The Ball Down The Field'

F-Laws, Russell Ackoff, and 'Moving The Ball Down the Field'

 

I have a long time, good friend, Steve, who talks about 'moving the ball forward,' in life. He means he has a predisposition, a preference for action over inaction, for commission over omission.

A modest, quiet guy, he's nevertheless been very successful -- by almost any measurement one cares to use in life.


If like me, chances are you know more people who're not like Steve -- who'd rather work their mouths than work their brains, or their arms; and who'll criticize others'  work or action, while avoiding it themselves.

That may sound a bit harsh and negative. But modern society -- modern business -- does not generally reward risk takers.

Yet, people and organizations learn, change and grow by errors of commission -- by our efforts, and from our failures. 95 percent of what we know and retain, we have learned on the job or in life. Not in school or in a Harvard MBA program. (Typically, we retain only about 5 percent of what we read.)

We suffer, we fail, in life and in business by errors of omission. By fear.  By inactivity.  By doing nothing.  Or too little.

Russell Ackoff, world renowned guru in operational theory and research (who recently died), published his F-Laws, a laundry list of the crazy rules that make life, leadership and business failure/success often problematic and frustrating because of our aversion to action and risk taking in life and in our relationships.

For a reprint/audio copy of a BBC interview with Ackoff shortly before he died, go to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0053d49

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