C. West Churchman (1913-2004), by most accounts, was the inventor of systems thinking. Systems thinking believes that considering the interactions of many parts or “the mess” will yield better results than focus the individual pieces alone. His first graduate student was Russell Ackoff. Ian Mitroff says Churchman’s influence on him was positive. Churchman wrote 15 books and edited 9 others. Most of those were written by his student Russell Ackoff.

Berkeley’s memorial tribute to Churchman contained this quote:
“I’m a planner, but I’m also a philosopher,” he told the San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle in 1982. “A planner finds out what an organization’s goals should be. He determines problems and suggests solutions. He puts the pieces together so that the people who make the decisions can make better decisions.

C. West Churchman Quotes:
To know that we are measuring real change, we need to have a strong theoretical base. – C. West Churchman Quotes

I am often inclined to put the implementation questions first, ie, “Can anything be changed?” Should the implementation question not accompany the whole process from its very beginning to its very end? – C. West Churchman Quotes

If the story of my early years with Russ sound like they were years of battle, then the sound is correct. – C. West Churchman Quotes

When one is considering systems it’s always wise to raise questions about the most obvious and simple assumptions. – C. West Churchman Quotes

It’s always wise to raise questions about the most obvious and simple assumption. – C. West Churchman Quotes

Knowledge resides in the user and not in the collection [of information]. It is how the user reacts to a collection of information that matters. – C. West Churchman Quotes

The measure of our intellectual capacity is the capacity to feel less and less satisfied with our answers to better and better problems. – C. West Churchman Quotes

C. West Churchman Books:
1938 Towards a General Logic of Propositions, Phd Dissertation
1940 Elements of Logic and Formal Science
1940 Euclid Vindicated of Every Blemish
1946 Psychologistics w/ Russell Ackoff
1948 Theory of Experimental Inference
1950 Methods of Inquiry: Introduction to Philosophy and Scientific Method w/ Russell Ackoff
1956 Costs, Utilities, and Values
1957 Introduction to Operations Research w/ Russell Ackoff & E.L. Arnoff
1960 Prediction and Optimal Decision
1968 Challenge to Reason
1968 The Systems Approach
1971 The Design of Inquiring Systems, Basic Concepts of Systems and Organizations
1975 Thinking for Decisions: Deductive Quantitative Methods
1979 The Systems Approach and Its Enemies
1982 Thought and Wisdom; The Gaither Lectures