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UCD-STAFFORDBEER  December 2008

UCD-STAFFORDBEER December 2008

Subject:

Re: VSM scope of application (was:RE: is there anyone out there????)

From:

Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 3 Dec 2008 08:01:52 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (473 lines)

Allenna, you're absolutely right about the back of the envelope stuff  
- that's what in my jargon I mean by using the model as an hermeneutic  
enabler. And, as you say, in this the model proves really, really  
invaluable. One finds oneself using such a logic all the time.

Problems arise when people confuse this loose and free technique with  
something absolutely rigorous that might solve every conceivable world  
problem, whether soft or hard. I repeat what I said before - the  
strength of a model is recognition of its limits. When you're using it  
as a prompt, be aware of the fact....when modelling a formal social  
structure....ditto. Don't confuse the two logical domains. Indeed, a  
neat chart outlining this for VSM might be very useful.

Roger
On 3 Dec 2008, at 02:24, allenna leonard wrote:

> Dear Roger,
>
> Your point that when you go down recursion levels you get to a role  
> in a social organization of some kind is well taken.  I'd add that  
> for an organization, no matter how small, (and perhaps an individual  
> as well) it can also be a very valuable exercise in the  
> clarification of identity to look at all the salient higher levels  
> of recursion to which they belong. This leads to a better  
> understanding of what those recursions are (as even a small  
> organization can have multiple levels of recursion) and how their  
> roles in each higher level or recursion are complementary or in  
> conflict.
>
> We might expand what counts as a social organization as well.  One  
> of the applications of the VSM that was done in the context of the  
> course that resulted in "Diagnosing the System" was an analysis of  
> the English language as a viable system.  It would be good to  
> remember that Stafford said models weren't right or wrong; they were  
> more or less useful.  Roughing out a VSM of any situation on the  
> back of an envelope will tell you whether or not is is likely to be  
> useful.  If it isn't, fine.  There are lots of other models -  
> including Stafford's Chart Four homeostats from Diagnosing that can  
> be helpful.
>
> Regarding the current financial mess...  it is at least:
>
> 1. a massive denial of the Conant-Ashby Theorem (Treasury Secretary  
> Paulson admitted that the financial instruments were more complex  
> than the regulations.)
> 2. feedback loops that were not connected leading to grossly  
> inaccurate assessments of the knock on effects of any potential  
> failures
> 3. a reward system for those selling the sub-prime mortgages and the  
> creatively packaged securities that was biased towards abuse
> 4. a lack of pattern recognition to pick up on the signs of trouble  
> as they appeared
> 5. recognition that there is inherent financial instability in the  
> relationship between borrowers paying interest, lenders earning  
> interest and middlemen earning a percentage every time the loan was  
> resold.
>
> What is clear is that there were all kinds of dynamics of a systemic  
> nature at work that were not transparent to the general public.   
> They are wondering how we got here and what went wrong.
>
> One of the ironies here is that money has been accepted as a metric  
> because it was assumed that it was a constant while measures of  
> other values depended heavily on the perspective of the observer.   
> Oops, so does money - witness the volatility of the stock market.
>
> I'm sure we could come up with a very complete diagnosis of the  
> problems if we put our heads together and spent some time on it.   
> Then the problem would be to whom could we present the results.
>
>
> Best,
> Allenna
>
> 5.
> --- On Tue, 12/2/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Re: VSM scope of application (was:RE: is there anyone out  
>> there????)
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 1:11 PM
>> Reading the other responses to you, Harold, I think I now
>> understand your question.
>>
>> I have a somewhat different take on VSM, one that I
>> discussed in some detail with Stafford.
>>
>> In brief - the VSM applies to what I call 'formal
>> social structures'. It DOES NOT apply to something that
>> I call 'human relations'. The formal social is
>> constituted by categories, labels, roles etc. Humanity is
>> constituted by the recurrent interactions of human beings
>> with one another as they cross the barriers and identities
>> of various social forms in their natural flow of living.
>>
>> These are two quite distinct domains of reality. They are
>> complementary necessities for our lived experience. Human
>> does not involve social ORGANISATION, even though our
>> interactions enable the emergence of social infrastructure,
>> and many of our character traits are drastically shaped (or
>> damaged) by our social identities.
>>
>> Exercise: take the VSM at any social scale, and drop levels
>> of recursion to the lowest 'atom' (lowest S1). You
>> will NOT discover a human being. You will find  a
>> constitutive role or a function for the given
>> system-in-focus. You will NOT discover a constitutive
>> element for humankind (ie a human being). And it is
>> impossible to do the same exercise for system-in-focus
>> 'humanity'. There are only just two mutually
>> constitutive elements to this reality - the set of all human
>> beings, and each and every one of the individuals. That is
>> what humanity IS.
>>
>> When taken on board, the above is not a limitation of the
>> VSM, but an enormous strength - which was what underlined my
>> original query to you, Harold. A model such as the VSM (or
>> anything`) HAS TO HAVE limitations, otherwise it is not a
>> model, but an ideology. The VSM concerns SOCIAL forms -
>> whether institutions or more informal organisations, such as
>> clubs. But in any case, they are SOCIAL forms. People ignore
>> this at their peril, and to the detriment of the model.
>>
>> Roger
>>
>> On 2 Dec 2008, at 17:48, Boris G Freesman, Q.C. wrote:
>>
>>> Arthur,
>>>
>>> I think you misunderstood what Barry said.
>>>
>>> Of course the VSM applies to corporations and all
>> kinds of organizations because it is a model for viability
>> rather than any specific form or type of organization. It is
>> like one of those coats that fits everyone in general and no
>> one in particular... and because it fits no one in
>> particular, fits no one. [<= feeble attempt at humour!]
>>>
>>> Boris
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Arthur
>> Dijkstra" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 11:05 AM
>>> Subject: VSM scope of application (was:RE: is there
>> anyone out there????)
>>>
>>>
>>>> Barry,
>>>> You wrote: IMHO, the VSM applies very well to
>> governments and societies. The
>>>> VSM is a framework for viability, not for
>> corporations or any other
>>>> particular form of entity.
>>>>
>>>> Why can't the VSM be applied to corporations ?
>> What makes the  model
>>>> ineffective for a corporation ?
>>>>
>>>> How do others see this ?
>>>>
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> ARthur
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
>>>> Van: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer
>>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>> Namens BARRY A CLEMSON
>>>> Verzonden: 02 December 2008 16:09
>>>> Aan: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Onderwerp: Re: is there anyone out there????
>>>>
>>>> Harold,
>>>>
>>>> I do not believe that Stafford failed in applying
>> the VSM to society.
>>>> In the case of Chile in particular the project
>> only lasted 18 months
>>>> before the coup and had some notable successes in
>> that short time. And
>>>> the coup was instigated and funded by the CIA and
>> was unrelated to the
>>>> work Stafford did. Also, Stafford did some very
>> interesting work with
>>>> Canadian Indian tribes.
>>>>
>>>> IMHO, the VSM applies very well to governments and
>> societies. The VSM
>>>> is a framework for viability, not for corporations
>> or any other
>>>> particular form of entity.
>>>>
>>>> You do raise a good question tho, "Where
>> doesn't Stafford's work
>>>> apply?" The answer to this depends upon which
>> aspects of the work: The
>>>> VSM doesn't say much about the process of
>> planning, but Syntegration
>>>> does. Neither Syntegration nor the VSM say much
>> about how one tries to
>>>> understand the inner workings of some complex
>> process, but Decision
>>>> and Control does in the sections on modeling.
>> Staffords work provides
>>>> very powerful tools for an immense range of
>> situations and purposes.
>>>>
>>>> Having said that, i also think that there are
>> other critical tools/
>>>> frameworks that need to be used. For instance,
>> Ackoff's idealized
>>>> planning is a critically important methodology.
>> And Ackoff's circular
>>>> organization is a way to make large organizations
>> both more effective
>>>> and more democratic. Further, both idealized
>> planning (as a VSM system
>>>> 4 methodology) and the circular organization (as a
>> way of organizing a
>>>> corporation or government entity) are completely
>> compatible with the
>>>> VSM. I don't know of anyone ever trying this,
>> but I have thought for
>>>> years that the circular organization would be a
>> management structure
>>>> that would facilitate the use of the VSM.
>>>>
>>>> Barry
>>>>
>>>> On Dec 2, 2008, at 2:36 AM, Garderen, Harold van
>> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> Like many others that responded thus far,
>> I'm interested and try to do
>>>>> some collaborative work at time.
>>>>>
>>>>> One thing worries me and that is the - at
>> times - almost
>>>>> fundamentalistic focus on Stafford. A few
>> questions:
>>>>>
>>>>> * Where doesn't Staffords work apply?
>>>>> * What progress have other made in the
>> meantime.
>>>>> * What of that work can we integrate to make
>> more VSM ideas readable
>>>>> in
>>>>> todays terms.
>>>>> * Isn't VSM used outside its validity
>> boundaries when applied to
>>>>> society
>>>>> (Stafford failed there)
>>>>>
>>>>> And the most vital one:
>>>>>
>>>>> * How do we achieve 200,000+ page views a day
>> on the wiki?
>>>>>
>>>>> One suggestion: find better names (and use
>> them) for S1-S5. Nobody
>>>>> will
>>>>> understand that for a long, long time.
>>>>>
>>>>> This work is in dear need of newbies. So go
>> and wiki!
>>>>>
>>>>> Harold
>>>>>
>>>>> Now blogging at
>> http://fragmentedliving.blogspot.com/
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Forum dedicated to the work of
>> Stafford Beer
>>>>>>
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
>>>>>> Roger Harnden
>>>>>> Sent: maandag 1 december 2008 23:21
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: is there anyone out there????
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Is anyone interested in the wiki??? I know
>> the few who are,
>>>>>> but how about others?? Or is it just not
>> of interest; is it a
>>>>>> pile of shit; is it irrelevant to other
>> people's needs; is it
>>>>>> difficult to engage in??????
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Best wishes,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Roger
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>>> For more information go to:
>> www.metaphorum.org
>>>>>>
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>> Environment (MCWE)
>>>>>> go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>>>>>>
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>>>>>>
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>>>>>>
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>>>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> This message and attachment(s) are intended
>> solely for use by the
>>>>> addressee and may contain information that is
>> privileged,
>>>>> confidential or otherwise exempt from
>> disclosure under applicable law.
>>>>>
>>>>> If you are not the intended recipient or agent
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>>>>>
>>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>>>
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>>>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at -
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>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>> ===================================================
>>>>
>>>> BARRY A CLEMSON
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>>
>>>> 757-692-6673
>>>>
>>>> Cybernetica Press at www.cyberneticapress.com
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> "It's not how much you do - it's how
>> much love you put in it.... Do
>>>> small things with great love."
>>>>           --- Mother Teresa ---
>>>>
>>>> The true warrior may be killed, but he can not be
>> defeated.
>>>>  --- my paraphrase of Sensei Hamada ---
>>>>
>>>> And peace rolled down like a mighty river.
>>>>      -- Inspired by the prophet Amos 5:24--
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> "An enemy is a person whose story we have not
>> heard."
>>>>          -- Gene Knudsen Hoffman --
>>>>
>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>>
>>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working
>> Environment (MCWE) go to:
>>>> www.platformforchange.org
>>>>
>>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at -
>>>> https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>>
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>>>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>>
>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>>
>>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working
>> Environment (MCWE) go to: www.platformforchange.org
>>>>
>>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at -
>> https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>>>>
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>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>
>>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>>
>>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment
>> (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>>>
>>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at -
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>>>
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>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>>>
>>
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>>
>> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE)
>> go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>>
>> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at -
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>>
>> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at -
>> http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>
>
>
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> For more information go to: www.metaphorum.org
>
> For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org
>
> METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html
>
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to:  www.platformforchange.org

METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - https://listserv.heanet.ie/ucd-staffordbeer.html

Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
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