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Accounting Now and Into FutureEssay

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Ackoff's Management Information Systems

Does each of the assumptions (individually) apply today? Whether you agree or disagree, you will need to explain why and provide examples to support your stance.

The first assumption that Ackoff makes is that managers do not necessarily need more information. Rather, they typically suffer from an abundance of mis-information. A great deal of managers spend a good portion of their time trying to eliminate irrelevant information. Ackoff wrote these words over fifty years ago and since that time the problem has only gotten worse -- by an order of magnitude. Today's business world has largely been globalized with supply chains that are infinitely long. The relationships in the business world have become incredibly more complex, dynamic, and interrelated. Globalization has provided people with new technologies and alternative ways of consuming everything, from products to music and films to literature and even language. In other words, globalization has impacted entire cultures in various countries (Friedman, 2005). This has also worked to make the mountain of irrelevant "misinformation" that much larger.

Another assumption that Ackoff challenges is that managers already know what information that they should have. Fifty years ago, this was not the case. Again, today the challenges are even more complex. Most managers focus on information that is not really appropriate for decision making. They often rely on heuristics to collect data and managers assumptions about which data sets are relevant are often wrong or misguided. Since the information available to managers has grown exponentially, this makes the challenge that much more difficult. Furthermore, the information that could be relevant to a manager this week, might not be the same information that would be relevant next week. The speed in which external environments are evolving also creates another dynamic that makes identifying the correct information even that much more difficult.

Ackoff also argues that even if managers have the correct or relevant information, that they may not use this information effectively in their decision making process. Even if the information is perfect, many managers will still use their experience, judgement, or intuition to ultimately drive their decision making. While this may be true, it seems that Ackoff may be overstating this problem relative to the first two assumptions he makes. It is reasonable to suspect that if a manager has the relevant information that they will make better decisions; even if these decisions are laced with some degree of subjectivity based off their experience or other factors. While the decision making process by management may not be a perfectly logical process, it follows that having the information most relevant to that decision will significantly improve the likelihood that they will make better decisions. Although Ackoff's assumption seems reasonable, it does not hold the same impact that the first two assumptions he presented have.

The fourth assumption that Ackoff makes involves communication. The point he tries to make about communications is that even managers with the best MIS will need to share this information for it to be effective. He further challenges the assumption that more communication equates better organizational performance. He uses an example of a purchasing department and a merchandising department to illustrate his point. He further points out that the metrics that they are using are inappropriate for communication to successfully help improve performance. The lesson seems to be that it is important to have the correct metrics or an organization cannot improve performance no matter what level of communication they reach. In the example given, the two departments are actually counter-productively aligned in their communication means and more communication would never improve this situation.

The fifth and final assumption Ackoff challenges is that managers do not necessarily need to know how the MIS system works, rather they just need to know how to use it. The thought is that having access to the information is sufficient enough and that managers need not worry about how that information is gathered and compiled. Ackoff argues that an understanding of the entire system from a comprehensive perspective can give managers an advantage in their decision making process. The managers need to know how these systems work so that they can "control them rather than be controlled by them." That is, by understanding the nuances of the system, management can make alterations or have insights that they might not otherwise have if they just have a working knowledge of the MIS. Thus, more effective management… [END OF PREVIEW]

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