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Book : The Systems Bible: The Beginner’s Guide to Systems Large and Small (3rd Edition) (2003)

The Systems Bible: The Beginner’s Guide to Systems Large and Small (3rd Edition)

Publisher:General Systemantics Press

Author(s):Gall, John

Published: 2003 • ISBN: 0961825170 • 316 pages • Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback

Available from: Amazon (DE)Amazon (UK)Amazon (US)


From the publisher

GENERAL SYSTEMANTICS™ PRESS is proud to announce the revised and much enlarged THIRD edition of SYSTEMANTICS™, THE UNDERGROUND TEXT OF SYSTEMS LORE. Sixteen years in preparation, this THIRD Edition includes a new Preface, three new chapters, new AXIOMS, THEOREMS AND RULES OF THUMB, and many new Horrible Examples, for a total of 40 chapters covering the entire field from the PRIMAL SCENARIO to the FAIL-SAFE THEOREM and including the celebrated definition of GARBAGE that is fundamental to any real understanding of SYSTEMANTICS™.

The FIRST EDITION of SYSTEMANTICS™ was “highly recommended” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Books and Films and has since been translated into Spanish, German, Hebrew, and Japanese.

The SECOND EDITION has been favorably reviewed in the Whole Earth Catalogue (1986) by Kevin Kelly: The author is having fun with a serious subject . . . insights come in the form of marvelously succinct rules of thumb, in the spirit of Murphy’s Law and the Peter Principle. And Computer Book Review remarks, From ‘Function-and-Failure’ to ‘Management and Other Myths’, here’s a collection of witty observations… grown into mature rules of thumb.

Content / Structure

Part One: Basic Theory

A. The Mysterious Ways of Systems

1. The First Principles

  • The Fundamental Theorem
  • Conservation of Anergy

2. Laws of Growth

  • Expansion and Encroachment
  • Do-It-Yourself and Self-Service

3. The Generalized Uncertainty Principle

  • Antics
  • Climax Design
  • The Non-Additivity Theorem

4. A..B.. C..Disaster (Feedback)

  • Le Chatelier's Law

5. The Power of Positive Feedback: A Warning

  • Runaways
  • Oscillating Systems

6. What Next? (The Life Cycle of Systems)

  • Fully Prepared For The Past (F.P.F.P)
  • The Tenacity of Temporary Arrangements
  • The New System and the Old System

B. Inside and Outside

7. The Grand Illusion

  • Functionary's Falsity and the Operational Fallacy

8. Inside Systems

  • The F.L.A.W
  • Coefficient of Fiction
  • Functionary's Pride
  • Hireling's Hypnosis

9. Delusion Systems Versus Systems-Delusions

  • The Jet Travel Paradox
  • Manager's Mirage
  • Manager's Mania
  • Orwell's Inversion

10. Systems-People

  • Specialized Selection
  • Bypassing the System
  • Exploitation Theorems

C. Function and Failure

11. Elementary Systems Functions

  • Impotent Potentate Syndrome
  • Vending Machine Failure

12. Advanced Systems Functions

  • Functional Indeterminacy Theorem (F.I.T)
  • The Kantian Hypothesis

13. The System Knows (System Goals)

  • Equifinality
  • Inner Goals
  • Function
  • Purpose
  • Will

14. Systems Failure (Theory of Errors)

  • Failure Mode
  • Graceful Degradation
  • Failure Mode Mantras
  • The Fail-Safe Theorem

15. Glitches, Gremlins, Bugs

  • Bugs: What Are They?
  • Bug Behaviour
  • Intermittent Failure
  • Can Bugs Be Useful (Bug or Bonanza)?
  • Some Famous Bugs

16. Form, Function, Failure

  • The Origin of Novelty
  • Specialized Incapacity

17. Colossal Errors

  • Grandiosity
  • Large Lumps of Liability
  • Total Systems

18. Unexpected Interactions

  • The Electric Turtle Effect
  • Fearful Symmetry

D. Communication Theory

19. Communication Theory

  • The Batesonian Sleeping Dog
  • Transactional Theorems
  • Dunn's Indeterminacy

20. Information

  • Lynd's Lemma
  • Information Theory
  • The Basic Information Theorem (B.I.T)
  • Rate-of-Decay Theorem
  • Interconvertability Theorem (Garbage Transfer)
  • Inaccessibility Theorem

21. Talking to the System

  • Whole Dog Spot
  • The Deregulated Dinosaur Effect
  • System-semantics

Part Two: Applied Systemantics

A. Systems and Self-Defense: Meta-Strategies

22. How Not to Solve Problems

  • Denial (No Problem!)
  • Information, Please!
  • Hopeful Traveling
  • Getting Rid Of

23. The Tao of Problem Avoidance (Meta-Strategy I)

  • On Not Joining The Coast Guard
  • Creative Incompetence

24. The Creative Task (Meta-Strategy II)

B. Practical Systems-Design

25. Design Don'ts

  • Occam's Razor
  • Unfavorable Settings
  • Uphill Configurations
  • The Systems Law of Gravity (The S.L.O.G. Factor)
  • Looseness
  • Bad Design
  • Gresham's Law
  • Brook's Law

26. Catastrophe Theory

C. Management and Other Myths

27. Wishful Feedback

  • The Potemkin Village Effect
  • Output Phobia
  • The Lesson of Three Mile Island
  • The Model of the Universe

28. Fear of Feedback

29. Feedback and the Future

30. Catalytic Managership (Utilization)

31. The "Problem" Problem

  • Fits and Starts
  • The Crash Approach

32. The Limits to Grandiosity

  • Limit Theorems
  • Grandiosity
  • The Perils of Perfection
  • Perfectionist's Paradox

33. Disaster Control

  • Minsk's Admonition
  • Jung's Runic Riddle

D. Intervention

34. Where's the Problem?

  • Change Agentry
  • Parts Versus Whole
  • The Ladder of Logical Levels

35. Probing the System

  • The Laboratory Rat Scandal
  • Cubology
  • One More Strategy

36. The Problem in the Solution

  • The Observer Effect
  • Systems and Self-Reference
  • The Nasal Spray Effect
  • Finding the Thermostat

37. Taming Systems

  • The Token System

38. The Problem in The Question

  • The System Out There and the System In Here
  • Switching Models
  • The Importance of Being Properly Framed

39. The Net of Indra

40. Beyond Stability

41. After the Solution, What? (The Next Problem)

  • The Dance of Accommodation
  • Feedback, Flexibility, Creativity



I Annotated Compendium

  • Basic Systems-Axioms, Theorems, Corollaries, etc.
  • Select List of Meta-Strategies

II Self-evaluation Quizzes and Essay Questions

III Reader's Tear-out Feedback Sheet

IV Whole Systems Catalogue

  • Outstanding Examples of the Operation of the Laws of General Systemantics ("Horrible Examples"). Entry Blank

V Glossary

VI Partial List of Animals

  • That Have Contributed to our Understanding of Systems

VII List of Horrible Examples

Notes and References

Biased Bibliography and Good Reading List

Index of Horrible Examples

General Index

Third Edition, Copyright © 2002 by John Gall


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