What Can Cybernetics Contribute to the Conscious Evolution of Organizations and Society? -- Markus Schwaninger, July 7, 2003, 11:35 a.m.
Ludwig von Bertalanffy Lecture
47th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), Hersonissos, Crete, July 7, 2003.
July 7, 2003, 11:35 a.m., Plenary
This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi ).
Chair: Ken Bausch
[Ken Bausch acting as chair]
Markus Schwaninger, University of St. Gallen
Close associate of Stafford Beer.
Leading a workshop at this ISSS meeting on Syntegrity with Allenna Leonard
Link to previous speakers, from Comanche and Maori
Feel as a member of an Austrian tribe.
Were colonized by Napoleon, and English recently, but stay as selves.
In daily live, when feel taken over by bureaucracy, feel fortunate of health.
Only survivor of original ISSS (Society for General Systems Research) founders, Anatol Rapoport, sent a message to the conference.
All with you. Slowly recovering. Sorry can't be about.
Today's talk is on the link between theme of conference and own work
Have tried to structure talk:
Understand problems as crises of regulation, and ways of dealing with them.
Stafford Beer, von Foerster, Luhmann
How to cope with ubiquitous complexity?
Ashby: complexity, ability to assume a large number of states: variety.
Ashby suggested measuring variety by bits.
Diversity between an agent and the situation he or she faces.
Challenge to bring balance in to system: by environment, and amplifying its own variety (repertory of behaviour).
Variety engineering (as Beer called it) can only happen if actor is interested in the long run.
Main threat, adding variety without understanding own limits: requisite variety.
Law of management, 2 types.
Need to bring in varieties, and then move towards only desired states.
Integrity, which means health.
To develop wholes, need a high level of autonomy.
Self-organization, or self-governance.
Not to be confused with independence, responsibility for own regulation.
Basis for Beer's Viable Systems Model.
Providing necessary and sufficient conditions for viability of human and social systems.
Claims are strong than other systems:
An organization is viable iff have functions specified.
[Diagrams: Systems 1 to 5]
Must have an ability to adapt.
Rigourous: homomorphic, isomorphic.
Validity: hasn't been falsified.
Power of fractals.
Rigour in VSM:
Proposition: Viability, self-cohesion, have systems 1 to 5 operating in recursion
[Diagram: media company in Latin America]
Architecture principle of building variety.
Remarrying of economics and ecologies.
Sustainability can only be brought about from recursive efforts at each of 5 levels.
Separation of thinking and doing is abolished.
Individual units with regulatory.
Traditional feedbacks are not sufficient for social systems.
Conant / Ashby Theory: Every good regulator of a systme must be a model of that system
Thus, a management process can not be better than the model on which it is based, except by chance.
Measuring the health of a company is like measuring the temperature to determine the season.
Three levels: strategic, operational and normative (ethics) management.
Relationship between profit and liquidity, with some delays.
Liquidity and profits are measured separately.
VSM is a reference model, even without understanding of the details.
The ability to survive is not the goal of an organization, it's a viability beyond survival.
Dimensions of organizational fitness:
Meeting all three is a distinctive feature of all.
Used in media company, and systemic project management.
New theory of sociology based on communications.
Methods often working not on problems, but dilemmas.
Open Space, Future Search ..., Interactive Management, ...
Team Syntegrity: method for design of democratic management, for heterarchy.
Based on neural and polyhedron research.
Formation of networks is a manifestation of the global village.
Infoset: A group of individuals who share a common concern, and are in in possesion of pertinent information or knowledge, connected with the issue of interst, as well as a motivation to tackle it.
Syntegrity, from Synergy and Tensile Integrity.
Why not design social organizations along the design of a polyhedron?
Icosahedron: the most complex of Platonic solids.
Each person in a 30-person organization is represented by an edge.
Each individual is a member of two teams.
At the same time, a person belongs to red and yellow, and is a critic to two other.