Systems Thinking and Personality Types LO22618

Roy Benford (
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 19:05:58 +0100

Replying to LO22598 --

> The study of personality types becomes soft-systems-oriented when the
> types identified are not treated as reductions of some variation, but

> rather treated as the sources of some new variations. For example, Russell
> Ackoff in his recent monograph on the subject of personality types
> suggests that he has found that when one individual is instructed to
> behave AS IF he belongs to some personality type (say t1) and another is
> instructed to behave AS IF he belongs to some other personality type (say
> t2), then their ensuing interaction is very much along predictable lines.

I don't really understand what this has to do with soft systems thinking
other than the use of Ackoff's name. My problem is with the last bit
about being able to predict people's behaviour. This would suggest a
deterministic view of human nature which implies an objectivist approach
and that is hard systems thinking. Soft systems thinking which implies a
subjectivist approach, i.e a voluntaristic view of human nature. Has
Ackoff changed his stance with age?

> This can have some use for organisations too. If a certain type of
> interaction pattern is desired in an organisation, one way to achieve it
> might be to instruct the participants to behave AS IF they belong to some
> personality types. A new difficulty arises when the participants become so
> used to the instruction that they forget their originality and start to
> believe that they actually belong to the type. It should not matter in
> the everyday course of events unless a new type of interaction pattern
> suddenly becomes desirable. This is when one needs to remind the
> participant that it was only a game after all!

Well, you might as well replace the humans with robots. Perhaps, somebody
has been watch too much 'Red Dwarf' on TV and is confusing holograms with
'carbon units'.

Roy Benford
Fulmer, UK


"Roy Benford" <>

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