Book Review: The Systems Bible


I just read the first part of a very interesting little book called The Systems Bible: The Beginner's Guide to Systems Large and Small, by John Gall. Software Engineering guru Jim Highsmith wrote that it is one of his personal favorites, and I can easily understand why.

The book is full of scientific insights, wisdom, irony and humor. Here's a small number of the many theorems, axioms, laws and principles collected in this little gem:

The Big-Bang Theorem of Systems Cosmology
Systems Tend to Expand to Fill the Known Universe

Le Chatelier's Principle
Systems Tend to Oppose Their Own Proper Functions

Operational Fallacy
The System Itself Does Not Do What It Says It Is Doing

Rohe's Theorem
Designers of Systems Tend to Design Ways for Themselves to Bypass the System

Newtonian Law of Inertia
The System Continues to Do Its Thing, Regardless of Circumstances

Axiom
Systems Don't Work for You or Me, They Work for Their Own Goals

Fundamental Failure Theorem
A System Can Fail in an Infinite Number of Ways

Fail-Safe Theorem
When a Fail-Safe System Fails, It Fails by Failing to Fail Safe

Basic Information Theorem
Information Decays (or Knowledge Does Not Keep Any Better Than Fish)

Agnes Allen's Law
Almost Anything is Easier to Get Into Than Get Out Of

Systems Law of Gravity
Systems Run Best When Designed to Run Downhill

Second Law of Systems Survival
In Order to Remain Unchanged, the System Must Change

Everything you read in The Systems Bible applies to all kinds of systems, whether computer systems, biological systems, economic systems or political systems. In fact, the book is so packed with systemantics (and jokes) that my own mental system quickly overloaded. I had to put it aside for a while, and I will try to absorb the rest later, at a slower pace.

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    I should probably read this book. I think it’s very helpful spiritually in a lot of ways.

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