30 Great Systems Thinkers

Systems Thinkers is a book by Magnus Ramage and Karen Shipp which has just caught my eye. The blurb on Amazon says:

Systems Thinkers presents a biographical history of the field of systems thinking, by examining the life and work of thirty of its major thinkers.

Annoyingly it doesn't mention who the 30 people are. A bit of googling reveals the missing information:

Early Cybernetics
  • Gregory Bateson
  • Norbert Wiener
  • Warren McCullough
  • Margaret Mead
  • W. Ross Ashby

General Systems Theory
  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy
  • Kenneth Boulding
  • Geoffrey Vickers
  • Howard Odum

System Dynamics
  • Jay Forrester
  • Donella Meadows
  • Peter Senge

Soft and Critical Systems
  • C. West Churchman
  • Russell Ackoff
  • Peter Checkland
  • Werner Ulrich
  • Michael Jackson

Later Cybernetics
  • Heinz von Foerster
  • Stafford Beer
  • Humberto Maturana
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Paul Watzlawick

Complexity Theory
  • Ilya Prigogine
  • Stuart Kauffman
  • James Lovelock

Learning Systems
  • Kurt Lewin
  • Eric Trist
  • Chris Argyris
  • Donald Schön
  • Mary Catherine Bateson

Whole > Sum(Parts)

I was chatting to my friend Mark today. He's retired and spends his time doing exactly what he wants to which is mostly making tools and using them to make more tools and lots of beautiful things. Today he was showing me his newly finished rose cutter which allows him to create wood turning patterns you wouldn't think possible. Anyway, at one point we were chatting about shooting rabbits. He mentioned that making a gun was easy, a couple of evening's work he said! Making ammunition was more tricky though. He said you can buy all of the separate bits you need to make bullets without a license. But when you put them together then you need a license and face a jail sentence if you haven't got one. I thought was a nice example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.