Table of contents for Idealized design : investing tomorrow-- today / Russell L. Ackoff, Jason Magidson, Herbert J. Addison.

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Table of Contents
Preface (to come)
 Introduction: The Birth of an Idea
Chapter 1	The Stages of Idealized Design
Chapter 2	Organizing the Process
	Chapter 3	Preparing for an Idealized Design Process
Chapter 4	Process Improvement
Chapter 5	Problem Dissolving
Chapter 6	Facilities and Sites Design
Chapter 7 Business Enterprises
Chapter 8	Not-for-Profit and Government Organizations
Chapter 9 Take the Plunge
Chapter 10 The Urban Challenge
			An Urban Car
			A Redesign of Paris
Chapter 11 The Health Care Challenge
			A National Health Care System
			A Health Care Mall
 Chapter 12 The Challenge to Government
			A National Elections System
			A New United Nations
			A Response to Terrorism
	Chapter 13 Energetics (Business Enterprise)
	Chapter 14 Academy of Vocal Arts (Not-for-Profit)
	Chapter 15 White House Communications Agency 
Annotated Bibliography
[Begin Acknowledgments Page]
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[Begin About the Author Page]
(b)About the Author
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[End of Front Matter (Preface and/or Intro will be placed in the book following 
the front 
Introduction: The Birth of an Idea
?Gentlemen, the telephone system of the United States was destroyed last night.?
CEO of Bell Laboratories
Idealized design is a way of thinking about change that is deceptively simple to 
state: In solving problems of virtually any kind the way to get the best outcome 
to imagine what the ideal solution would be and then work backwards to where 
you are today. This ensures that you don?t erect imaginary obstacles before you 
even know what the ideal is.
	Nothing better illustrates the power of this idea in action than the 
experience that one of the authors, Russell Ackoff, had many years ago. The 
experience both enlightened him and proved to him that the idea could facilitate 
profound change in a major corporation. To relate the experience, this author 
?steps forward:?
 ?In every life there are seminal experiences that exert their 
influence on a great deal of experience that follows. The one that is 
responsible for this book took place in 1951. I was then a member of the 
faculty of Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio. (It had not yet 
merged with Western Reserve University). On a consulting trip to New 
York I drove down to Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, to see Peter 
Meyers, a manager whom I?d met when he had come to Case to recruit 
promising graduate students for the Labs.
 ?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. After some hesitation Peter Myers 
said, ?Why don?t you come with me?? I pointed out it was a meeting for 
section heads and I was not even an employee of the labs. He said that 
no one would know the difference. 
 ?We arrived at a typical classroom that held about 40 people and 
was almost full. The Vice President was not there yet. Nor did he appear 
on time. This was very unusual. He was a big man, extroverted and 
voluble. He could not get near someone without punching, pinching, 
pushing, hugging or pounding them on the back.
 ?About ten minutes after the hour the door to the room squeaked 
open. All eyes turned to it, and there he was. He was obviously very 
upset. He was a pasty gray and bent over as he slowly shuffled down the 
aisle without a word to anyone. He mounted the platform, stood behind 
the podium, put his elbows on it and held his head in his two hands, 
looking down.
 ?The room was dead silent. Finally, he looked up and in an 
uncharacteristically meek voice said, ?Gentlemen, the telephone system of 
the United States was destroyed last night.? Then he looked down again.
 ?The room broke out in a hubbub of whispered conversations 
saying that his statement was not true. Many in the room had used a 
phone that morning. The Vice President looked up and said, ?You don?t 
believe the system was destroyed last night, do you? Some of you 
probably used the phone this morning, didn?t you?? Most of the heads in 
the room shook with assent. The Vice President began to tremble with 
rage. He shouted, ?The telephone system was destroyed last night and 
you had better believe it. If you don?t by noon, you?ll be fired.?
 ?He then looked down again. What was wrong with the VP 
everyone was asking each other. But since discretion is the better part of 
valor where one?s boss is involved, the whispers stopped as all waited for 
further word from him and an explanation of his erratic behavior.
 ?The Vice President looked up and glowered at the group. Then he 
suddenly straightened up, his normal color seemed to return and he broke 
out in a great big belly laugh. All those in the room also began to laugh. 
They did not know why they were laughing but it released the tension that 
his unusual behavior had created. It began to dawn on all of us that his 
behavior had been a trick.
 ?After the laughter died down he said in his normal voice with his 
normal demeanor, ?What was that all about? Well, in the last issue of the 
Scientific American,? he said, ?there was an article that said that these 
laboratories are the best industrially based R&D laboratories in the world. 
I agreed, but it got me thinking.?
 ?He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and withdrew a 
piece of paper and said, ?I?ve made a list of those contributions to the 
development of telephonic communications that I believe have earned us 
this reputation. Before I share my list with you, I?d like your opinions. 
What do you think are the most important contributions we have ever 
made to this development??
 ?Almost every hand in the room went up. He called on one of those 
with a raised hand. He said, ?The dial.? ?Right,? said the Vice President. 
?This is certainly one of the most important. Do any of you know when we 
introduced the dial?? One in the room volunteered a date in the 1930s. 
The Vice President agreed. He then asked, ?When was it developed?? No 
one knew.
 ?He said he had not known either but had looked it up before he 
came to the meeting. He said, ?It was before 1900.? We were surprised to 
say the least. He pressed on asking for another candidate. The next one 
offered was multiplexing, a way of transmitting multiple conversations 
simultaneously over one wire. This yielded an enormous increase in the 
capacity of AT&T?s network. ?Right,? the Vice President repeated. He 
once again asked when it has been introduced. Some one knew it had 
been between the two world wars. The Vice President confirmed this and 
asked, ?When was it invented?? No one knew. Again he revealed that it 
was before 1900.
 ?He asked for one more suggestion. The person he called on said, 
?The co-axial cable that connected the USA and Great Britain.? The Vice 
President agreed and asked when it has been built. Someone knew: 
 ??Doesn?t it strike you as odd,? he said, ?that the three most 
important contributions this laboratory has even made to telephonic 
communications were made before any of you were born? What have you 
been doing?? he asked. ?I?ll tell you,? he said. ?You have been improving 
the parts of the system taken separately but you have not significantly 
improved the system as a whole. The deficiency,? he said, ?is not yours 
but mine. We?ve had the wrong research-and-development strategy. We 
have been focusing on improving parts of the system rather than focusing 
on the system as a whole. As a result we have been improving the parts 
but not the whole. We have got to restart by focusing on designing the 
whole and then designing parts that fit it rather than vice versa. 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 
 ??First,? he continued, ?let me explain why we will focus on what we 
want right now, not out five or ten years. Why? Because we know that 
where we say today we would like to be five years from now is not where 
we will want to be when we get there. Things will happen between now 
and then that will affect our goals and objectives. By focusing on what we 
want right now we can eliminate that potential source of error.?
 ??Second, why remove practically all constraints? Because if we 
don?t know what we would do now if we could do whatever we wanted, 
how can we know what to do when we can?t do everything we want? 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.?
 ??Now, here are the two constraints. First, technological feasibility. 
This means we cannot use any but currently available knowledge. No 
science fiction. We can?t replace the phone with mental telepathy.? The 
second constraint, he said, was that ?the system we design must be 
operationally viable. What does that mean? Since we are not changing 
the environment, it means that the system must be able to function and 
survive in the current environment. For example, it will have to obey 
current laws and regulations.? 
 ?The Vice President then said, ?This group is too large to operate as 
a single group. Therefore, I am going to divide you into six subgroups of 
about six each, each with responsibility for a subsystem. Each group will 
select a representative to meet with other representatives at least once a 
week to discuss interactions. Let me explain.?
 ??Each group will be able to design whatever it wants as long as it 
does not affect any other group?s design. If what a group wants to do 
does affect one or more other groups? designs it must get their agreement 
before it can be included in their design. I can tell you in advance,? he 
said,? that the groups will do little that does not affect other groups. At the 
end of the year,? he said, ?I want to see one completely integrated system 
design, not six subsystem designs. I don?t even want to know what the 
individual teams came up with. Is that clear?? he asked.
 ?He created a ?long lines? (inter-city communication) team, a ?short 
lines? (within city communication) team, a switching stations team, two 
other teams, and finally the telephone set team, on which I found myself 
with my friend, Peter Meyers.
 ?When the meeting was adjourned the teams immediately gathered 
so that their members got to know each other. When Peter introduced me 
to the other members of our team they thought it very funny that an 
?outsider? had successfully invaded their meeting. But, they said, the Vice 
President had not precluded their use of ?outsiders.? Therefore, they 
invited me to participate in the effort. As a result, I spent a great deal of 
time in the next year with that team. What a learning experience it was!
?The first meeting took place after lunch that day. The seven of us, six 
from the Labs and I, met in a small breakout room. After the amenities we 
discussed where we should begin. We decided to list the properties we 
wanted a telephone to have. We noted suggestions on a pad mounted on 
an easel. The first few were as follows:
 Every call I receive is intended for me ? no wrong numbers.
I want to know who is calling before I answer the phone so I need 
not answer it if I don?t want to speak to the caller.
 A phone I can use with no hands.
A phone that comes with me wherever I am, not one I have to go to 
in a fixed location.
 ?We continued to add to this list for several weeks ending with just 
over ninety properties we wanted a phone to have. These properties 
became very complicated near the end. For example, we wanted to be 
able to talk simultaneously to groups in multiple locations, see all of them, 
and be able to transmit documents or charts instantaneously.
 ?But we ran dry. We noted, however, that we had designed nothing 
yet so decided to try our hands at it. We decided to select the first 
property on our list ? no wrong numbers ? and see if we could design a 
phone that met this requirement. 
 ?At this point I almost destroyed my credibility in the group by 
pointing out that there were two kinds of wrong numbers. One consisted 
of having the right number in one?s head but dialing it incorrectly. The 
other consisted of having the wrong number in one?s head and dialing it 
correctly. One member of the group immediately pointed out that if one 
had the wrong number in one?s head and dialed it incorrectly, one might 
get the right number. 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.
 ?Here I was able to save my credibility a bit because I knew the 
head on the psychology department at the Labs. I called him using the 
phone in the room. After the amenities I asked him if he had ever done 
any work on wrong numbers. He exploded on the other end of the line. It 
was minutes before I could understand him. It turned out that he and 
been doing work on wrong numbers for a number of years and I was the 
first one to ask him about it. He wanted to unload all his results on me. I 
had to convince him otherwise. After he calmed down I learned that four 
out of five wrong numbers were the result of incorrectly dialing the right 
number in one?s head. We decided to go to work on this.
 ?An amazing thing happened; in less than an hour we found a way, 
conceptually, to reduce, if not eliminate, such errors. We replaced the dial 
by ? what did not exist at that time ? a small hand-held calculator. There 
were ten keys, one for each digit, a register, and a red key in the lower 
right-hand corner. The phone was to be used as follows. Leaving the 
phone ?on the hook? one would put into the phone the number one wanted 
to call by pressing the appropriate buttons. These numbers would appear 
on the register. If these numbers, on examination, appear to be correct 
one would lift the receiver and the whole number would go through at 
once. If the number on the register was wrong one would press the red 
button in the corner. This would clear the phone and one would start over.
 ?We were very pleased with ourselves but nevertheless we 
recognized that we did not know whether such a phone was 
technologically feasible. (The hand-held calculator was not yet available.) 
Therefore, we called a department of the Lab that worked on 
miniaturization and asked for technical help. They sent two young men 
down to our meeting. They appeared to be fresh out of school, still 
wearing their intellectual diapers.
 ?As we described what we were trying to do they began to whisper 
to each other and were soon more absorbed in their private conversation 
than in what we were saying. This bothered us but such behavior was not 
entirely unexpected in an R&D laboratory. However, they suddenly got up 
and hurried out of the room with no explanation. We were furious but 
decided to let it pass for the time being. We went on to another property.
 ?Several weeks later the two young men appeared at one of our 
sessions looking sheepish and apologetic. They said, ?You probably 
wondered why we ran out on you when we were here last.? We told them 
this was an understatement. They explained, ?We were very excited by 
what you were doing but not for the reasons you were. We did not want to 
take the time to explain. That wrong-number stuff was not as interesting 
as the buttons.?
 ?They went on, ?We went back and built a push-button telephone 
and tested it on a very large number of people. It turns out to take about 
twelve seconds less to put in seven digits by pushing buttons than turning 
a dial, and additional time is saved by not occupying a line until after the 
number is put in and the received is picked up. The combined saving in 
time is worth millions to AT&T,? they said, ?so we have started a project to 
develop that telephone. We have given it a code name that is being kept 
secret for now.? They looked around the room to be sure no one was 
listening and then told us, ?Touch tone.?
 ?Before the year was over the groups had established the 
technological feasibility of each of our many design features. The group of 
design teams continued to work after I was no longer a participant and 
they anticipated every change in the telephone system, except two, that 
has appeared since then. Among these are: touch-tone phones, 
consumer ownership of phones, call waiting, call forwarding, voice mail, 
caller ID, conference calls, speaker phones, speed dialing of numbers in 
memory, and mobile phones. They did not anticipate photography by the 
phone or an Internet connection.
 ?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. As a result, I 
began to adapt and modify the procedure to fit such other applications that 
we describe in this book. As you will see, its use has been extensive and 
is still growing.?
 This experience is a convincing example of how Idealized Design can 
literally move mountains of change. But applying the process involves not only 
discarding old mindsets that inhibit creative thinking but knowing the steps 
we have learned work best in applying it. The book is intended to take you 
through the process with many examples of different organizations in different 
The book is organized to give you a roadmap for finding the most valuable 
sections that match your particular interests and needs. Part I describes the 
basic ideas of Idealized Design and the steps that managers need to take to 
implement it. Chapter 1 explains the basic stages of a fully implemented 
idealized design. Chapter 2 describes how to organize a successful design. 
Chapter 3 makes the case for the importance of careful preparation and provides 
essential guidance about how to prepare. The object of these three chapters is 
to give you a comprehensive understanding of the design process so that in later 
chapters we can concentrate on the important aspects of each topic without 
having to repeat all of the steps that led to the outcome.
 Part II describes idealized design in action and applied in a variety of 
organizations and processes. Chapter 4 discusses processes and shows how 
idealized design can be used to improve processes in a widely diverse group of 
 Chapter 5 describes the four ways of approaching problem solving and 
demonstrates that the most effective approach is ?dissolving? the problem. 
Dissolving a problem invokes idealized design and results in the problem going 
away permanently.
 Chapter 6 looks at facilities and sites and combines the factors of 
and space that need to be reconciled in order to produce the optimum 
arrangement of elements. 
 Chapter 7 looks at entire business organizations that are forced to 
respond to market conditions and change or lose out to competitors. 
 Chapter 8 demonstrates that idealized design is as powerful a tool for 
for-profit and government organizations as for business organizations.
 Chapter 9 brings together our accumulated experience in working with 
idealized designs and provides hands-on practical advice for conducting a 
successful design.
 Part III takes a wider view of what can be achieved using idealized design 
by applying it to some of the major challenges facing the world today. Chapter 
10 addresses the challenge of urbanism and describes a small car that is ideally 
suited to operating in cities. The chapter then describes how idealized design 
was applied to a redesign of Paris ? and the national system of which it is a 
? in a project that has had a continuing impact on France to this day.
 Chapter 11 explores how the seemingly intractable challenge of the health 
care system can yield to the power of idealized design. The chapter first 
describes a national health care system for the United States that would deliver 
care equitably to all citizens. It then explains how health care malls can 
care at the point of contact between patients and health care professionals that 
both humane and effective.
 Chapter 12 looks at the challenges that governments face and describes 
how idealized design can be applied to deal with problems of a national and 
international nature. The chapter first examines a national election system ? 
as a 
part of a larger redesign of government ? that would raise the proportion of 
eligible voters who turn out in elections and at the same time improve the 
of candidates for public office. It then describes a new international 
that could either replace the present United Nations or be formed in addition to 
that would solve many of the problems of international wars and conflict that 
U.N. has failed to achieve. Finally, the chapter addresses perhaps the biggest 
threat to nations today: terrorism. It applies idealized design to one of the 
causes of terrorism and explains how if the cause were eliminated there would 
be fewer terrorists and terrorist attacks.
 Part IV provides three complete idealized designs. These are actual 
designs drawn from examples in the applications in Part II. We discuss these 
examples in the applications chapters but only reprint excerpts from their final 
idealized designs. Readers should find the details of the complete designs of 
value if they wish to embark on an idealized design of the kind described in one 
or more of these chapters.
If our description of idealized design so far sounds mechanical and dry, our 
experience with it is exactly the opposite. There is a very important aspect of 
idealized design that is not normally discussed. Participation in preparing 
such a 
design is great fun. 
 The removal of constraints, allowing the free exercise of imagination, is 
liberating and exciting experience. To engage in it is to play god in a limited 
universe and to enjoy the creative experience that any Creator must have. In 
every design exercise there is a point, usually fairly early in the process, 
when an 
"aha" experience moves the design group through a threshold which takes them 
out of the existing system into the realm of the newly possible. 
 Adding to the pleasure, within design groups rank is irrelevant; there is 
hierarchy. Rank is deposited at the door. This removes the fear of retribution 
what is said in the sessions by subordinates. This relief is augmented by the 
that the effort is not directed at criticizing the current system or attributing 
for its deficiencies, but in conceptualizing a better one. 
 Because participation in idealized design is fun and liberating it is 
easy to obtain and maintain. And because all who are involved, directly or 
indirectly, share ownership in the output, implementation is greatly 
The plans directed at realization of the design or an approximation to it are 
seen as a separate kind of activity but as an integral part of the design 
The fact that aspects of the design are seen as implementable long before the 
design is completed, reinforces the inclusion of implementation as part of the 
design process.
We encourage readers to read this book from beginning to end. But we know 
from our own experience ? and through talking to others ? that many, perhaps 
most, readers skip around in books looking for the most interesting parts, or 
parts that relate to their immediate concerns. 
 So to help guide those who want to skip let us suggest that you read all 
Part I to get a firm grasp of the process of idealized design. Then skip to 
applications chapters in Part II that are of most interest or importance to you.
 We also strongly suggest that you read the chapters in Part III to open 
your thinking to the possibilities of using idealized design to address major 
challenges in the world today. We think there is no limit to what can be 
accomplished in the world using the tool of idealized design.
 In Part I that follows, you go though the process of implementing an 
idealized design. The emphasis is on the general application of the process, 
on specific applications. That is the subject of Part II. 
 We welcome you to the journey you are about to begin.

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Creative ability in business -- Case studies.
Creative thinking -- Case studies.
Technological innovations -- Case studies.
Organizational effectiveness -- Case studies.
Corporate culture -- Case studies.