What people have said about the f-LAWS books
"...a delightful, if occasionally painful, read that makes it clear there are no magic formulas or simple solutions. But when confronted with the inherent uncertainty of their job, managers will still look for something simple to work some magic."
Leon Gettler ~ The Age, Melbourne
"Reading Russell Ackoff's slim new volume, Management f-Laws is like being pricked by a series of delayed electric shocks. At first glance and on their own, the book's 81 short aphorisms, paradoxes and put-downs seems nothing special. The first shock comes as the implication sinks in, followed by a chain-reaction of secondary ones as the first implication interacts with subsequent ones, until shocks are going off all over and you are left in no doubt that you are in the presence of one of the profoundest and wittiest brains ever to engage with the bizarre human activity called management."
Simon Caulkin ~ The Observer
"If you ever need a reality check after stumbling out of some appalling management meeting, or just need cheering up on a long business trip, this is the book for you. Just about every myth or pompous delusion about management gets punctured in the course of 160 feisty pages."
Stefan Stern ~ The Daily Telegraph
"This book is fun - not something one can often say about a management book. It's also a compact piece of distilled wisdom. That's because it has its origins in the fertile mind of Russ Ackoff. He has been studying, advising and working with organisations of all sorts for more than 60 years and is world-renowned for his work on systems thinking - the idea that the whole is more than the parts and that any changes to one part of the system will have repercussions on others. Obvious stuff, perhaps, but incredibly important. It's the same with this little book. Many of the 81 f-Laws are obvious when you think about them, but are too often ignored or neglected. Yet they matter.
Take No. 4, for instance: 'There is no point in asking customers, who do not know what they want, to say what they want.' ...Eighty-one f-Laws cannot be assimilated in one sitting. Skim it, if you like, and raise the odd wry smile of rueful recognition. Or undergo a self-examination course. Take each f-Law in turn and ask yourself how it applies to you, to your role in the organisation and to your organisation as a whole. Do it seriously and you might learn a lot. But the book might be best used as the basis for a serious conversation with colleagues. There is truth at the heart of all the laws, and it will be best dragged out in discussion, perhaps as one f-Law at a time.
Every meeting, someone has suggested, could start with a short f-Law meditation - or might that be too American? ...Ackoff has seen a lot and been around a long time - he is 88 this month. He has learnt a lot along the way. We should all be grateful that he has chosen to share his profound wisdom, and that of his long-time friend and collaborator, Herbert Addison, in such an enjoyable and compressed way. It's also pleasing when someone writes as he talks and as he lives. Ackoff's friendly, quizzical, ironic self shines through in these pages."
Charles Handy ~ Management Today
"It is always exciting to meet a real subversive, especially when he (or she) is old and wise. Russell Ackoff was in London the other day to launch a new book and he fits all the categories. He is 88 and simply bubbles with ideas about what's wrong with the way business works. His new book is all about the F-Laws, uncomfortable truths about the (mistaken) way most organisations are run. The flaws come from decades of repeated management mistakes and conventional business teaching."
Peter Day ~ BBC
"The ancient laws of management suck. And in this unique little book, Russ and Sally have a go at assessing them, dismissing them and revealing them for what they are - a hindrance to good business, and something that we can have a good chuckle about."
Dan Germain ~ Head of Creative, innocent drinks
"Long ago, Shakespeare wrote 'The Comedy of Errors.' Now, Russell Ackoff and Herbert Addison, with astute commentary by Sally Bibb, write with compelling wit about the errors found in the usual practice of management. In this aptly labeled tome, 'Management f-LAWS,' using a wonderfully readable style, laced with humor and irony, the three writers skewer many conventional behaviors and practices prevalent in today's management. But do not be deceived, there is much, much more here than the piercing of sacred cows. The book is an instructive gem that should be required reading for anyone interested in effective management."
Sheldon Rovin ~ Emeritus Professor at Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania
"We came to expect thought-provocation and wit from this ground-breaking intellectual and prolific writer whose two most cited and serious academic papers are titled «the future of operational research is past» and «management misinformation systems.» It is fitting that Ackoff once again applies his exceptional gift to reduce complex phenomena to their bare essentials. A life-time of thinking about management and experiencing its arcane rituals is summarized in the form of 80+ f-LAWS, making for very entertaining reading. But make no mistake: this is a fun way of going about serious work. Each of the laws hits hard on common sins of management, and should be taken by the reader very personally as a stimulus to think 'out of the box' about what really matters. Thoughtful commentary by Sally Bibb can be used to jump-start one's own reflections.
Law 45 states that 'all work and no play is a prescription for low quantity and quality of outputs'. I therefore recommend that each corporate meeting start with the collective reading of one f-LAW. Alternatively, the very-busy-executive-with-no-time-left-to-spare could keep this book in the restroom - an important accoutrement of executive life according to f-LAW 22 -- declare reading it to be work, and be proud of adding another few minutes to the productive work-day. Either way, this book is a must."
Dr. Wladimir M. Sachs ~ Affiliate Professor at CERAM Sophia-Antipolis and Visiting Professor at Leiden University School of Management.
"This book offers profound thoughts in digestible bites. It is easy to read and entertaining, yet full of wisdom. How much better our organizations would be if managers could really learn these lessons!"
Michael C Jackson ~ Professor of Management Systems and Dean of Hull University Business School.
"Wit and wisdom in small doses on the deep rooted abuse of hierarchical power. It takes a Russ Ackoff to unveil myths and illusions of this kind."
Göran Carstedt ~ Managing Director, the Society of Organizational Learning, Cambridge, MA. Formerly President, Volvo Cars and President, Ikea Europe