peteg's blog - noise - books - 2007 03 12 Gall Systemantics

John Gall: The Systems Bible, The Third Edition of Systemantics.

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Finally got around to finishing this one. It's a book to savour, though the newer sections are a lot drier than the sharply observed witticisms of the first two editions. From the preface to the second:

Things have never been better — but they're improving.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.

The departure point is the insight that new systems mean new problems, married with the even deeper insight that there need exist a treatise on a general theory of systems that apes the lingo and pomposity of truly excellent academic work. I'm sure a lot of the concepts are treated formally elsewhere — feedback, for example, and the trickiness of making observations — and as such the book serves as a great overview of the field. Also memorable are the discussions of humans embedded in a system, the possibility of changing system behavior and the likelihood of success.