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Principles of systems science
Mobus G., Kalton M., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2015. 755 pp.  Type: Book (978-1-493919-19-2)
Date Reviewed: Aug 23 2016

In October 1995, at the opening ceremonies of the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside (now the University of Lincoln), Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II asked then Dean Mike C. Jackson of the Lincoln School of Management if he could tell her in a sentence or two what a system was [1]. Jackson indeed had a short answer, and might have drawn upon his own work to convey the breadth of systems science at that time--in about 12 pages [2]. Now, more than 20 years later, this opus by Mobus and Kalton provides a short answer as well, and an in-depth exploration of systems science at this time--in about 800 pages.

Principles of systems science consists of 14 chapters organized in five parts. The heart of the book is the 12 principles, articulated in chapter 1, “A Helicopter View.” Two principles stand out to me in my role as an organizational consultant in innovation and change: #11 (“Systems can be understood.”) and #12 (“Systems can be improved.”). The principles are applied to a complex real-world problem in chapter 2.

This book is a feast--full of systems theory and sage guidance about systems practice. Professionals interested in gently learning the logic and techniques of systems may want to read Mella [3] first, then the aforementioned chapters in Part 1, followed by the chapters in Part 5 on systems analysis, systems modeling, and systems engineering. Academics interested in teaching systems science will want to use this book along with the recent research in [4].

Undoubtedly, Her Majesty would have appreciated receiving a copy of this book in addition to the ham she was presented with at the reception.

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Reviewer:  Ernest Hughes Review #: CR144702 (1611-0783)
1) Hughes, E. Does the queen have magical powers? Leadership & systems in the 21st century. In Synergy matters working with systems in the 21st century (Lincoln, UK), Castell, A., Gregory, A., Hindle, G., James, M., Ragsdell, G., Eds. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Press, 1999, 265–270.
2) Lane, D.; Jackson, M. C. Only connect! An annotated bibliography reflecting the breadth and depth of systems thinking. Systems Research 12, 3(1995), 217–228.
3) Mella, P. Systems thinking: intelligence in action. Springer, New York, NY, 2012.
4) UK Systems Society. Dealing with real world complexities, http://www.ukss.org.uk/ (08/07/2016).
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