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Hi Steve,
 
I think you've hit at least one nail on the head here. It is daunting to accept that there is not much one can add to Stafford, not in disagreement with Roger and others that there are many other useful tools and even toolsets, but in the context of your argument. Regarding the issue of cult, it is quite different to be seen as a cult 'from the outside' than to be under some self-imposed restriction that we cannot point out significant aspects of what we consider Stafford's legacy to be including the effect he had on us.  I know that Boris agrees with me that experience of Stafford the human being was as significant to understanding the difference between a great idea and a 'time whose idea has come' as it was to grok the deep compassion, understanding and humanity that Stafford represented in his life and thus choices he made and paid for and for which we also pay in terms of dissemination. I for one am not very interested in promoting 'anything that works' management and there is a core ethic in Stafford, that I see reflected in Roger's thinking (along with the oft quoted Maturana and others who constitute a partial expression of Roger's world view), and in Luc and Allenna and many others of you I happen to know.  I believe that the fundaments of Stafford's models are rooted in ethics and generosity and I for one will continue to risk being branded a cultist in attempting to bring into discussion qualities I believe Stafford possessed that are relevant not only to the discussion but to my sense of identity with this group.
 
 
Joseph Truss
Abbey North Drummers / Open Futures / Team Syntegrity AG
 


From: Steve Morlidge <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 5:20:56 AM
Subject: Re: VSM scope of application (was:RE: is there anyone out there????)

Dear All,

A propos Javier's comments about Management Innovations - I know Julian
Burkinshaw and he is aware of Stafford's work (as do the people that he
works with at London Business School) because I had lunch with him a couple
of years ago and he scribbled it all down as we ate!

If you were cynically minded you would say that he wouldn't mention SB
because he represents competition - Julian and Gary Hamel have set up
something called the Management Innovation Laboratory attached to LBS. Their
pitch is that the only meaningful innovation in business today is that of
management models and they have attracted a lot of funding to their venture
from businesses who think that this is what they will learn about from them.
I think JB/GH etc realise that the answer lies in biological rather than
mechanistic models of organisation but I don't think they have the
intellectual depth (or will) to take this to the next step.

Howvever, I don't think it is right to be quite as cynical as this. I was
struck by a statement Benoit Mandelbrot made in his video lecture posted on
the MIT website (thanks for pointing me at them Nick). He said he had been
studying how new ideas get adopted in science (I am sure he will be familiar
with Kuhn's stuff on this even though he didn't refer to him.). He claimed
that the ideas that were adopted quickly were those that were not fully
formed when they were first launched, since this gives academics the
opportunity to help create and shape the concepts.  As we know you are
committed to what you help create, but also this means that the adoption of
the ideas are consistent with an academics need to build his/her career. On
the other hand, a fully formed set of ideas gives the intellectual community
two choices. Either agree (and forsake all but me - including everything
upon which you have build your career and intellectual identity) or
disagree. A consequence of agreeing is that you come to identify (or be
identified) strongly with the creator of the new paradigm, which of course
gives the nay sayers ammunition (it is a cult etc etc).

It seems to me that this is the position that we are in with Stafford's
stuff.

What to do about it? Ah...well that is a bit more difficult!


Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: Forum dedicated to the work of Stafford Beer
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Javier Livas
Sent: 02 December 2008 19:59
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: VSM scope of application (was:RE: is there anyone out
there????)

Dear friends, Barry,

I make the same question to Roger, what does RC mean?

And I think Javier means me, Javier Livas, mentioned by Stefan W.

Allow me to observe:

There are clearly two paths we (at Metaphorum) have been following 
both belonging to the VSM structure. One is to continue building the 
theory that Stafford and others, as Roger for instance, have been 
doing. This is great. (SYSTEM 4) Learning to do new things.

The other path is to try to make Stafford ideas work for the public in 
general. Applications is what we need. (SYSTEM 3)

The problem is this:

On my way back from Spain last Friday, I bought the book "Giant Steps 
in Management. Creating Innovations That Change the Way We Work." It 
was written by M. Mol and Julian BirKinshaw, from the London Business 
School and associated in some way to Gary Hamel, the management guru 
of Harvard Business Review fame. (I can only smile when I find that 
Hamel recommend organizing large businesses with the resiliency of THE 
US CONSTITUTION!!!)

The point about mentioning this book is that neither STAFFORD or the 
VSM appear as part of this 150 year history of "management solutions". 
This is not to say that we are wasting our time, but only to emphazise 
that Stafford's ideas have a way to go before they will be applied by 
the masses, as was his intention in the Chilean effort, as you all 
know. If we keep building without connecting to the rest of the world 
it won't be long before we disappear completely from sight.

I have been listening into the conversations only to realize that some 
of the exchanges become difficult to follow and understand. At times 
the language used becomes highly obscure. Obviously this is not your 
fault but mine. But then I would conclude that some of us must forget 
about theoritical considerations (SYSTEM 4) must work in the opposite 
direction (SYSTEM 3) which is the popularization of Stafford's ideas 
and of Cybernetics. Do something usefull with them that can be copied 
by others.

In this respect, it is URGENT that we get some things clearified. For 
instance when we talk about Cybernetics and Society I do not see the 
connection to the VSM because societies are more of a complex adaptive 
system with many autonomous agents copying each other's solutions. VSM 
is the map of a STRUCTURE which to me is exactly the same as that of 
the STATE, which makes it official whether we like it or not. The 
problem of course is that beyond the first recursion level, the rest 
of the legal structure is highly reductionistic and a big failure.

¿What could we say right now about the world financial crisis 
expressed in the language of cybernetics or the VSM? Maybe we should 
try posting our conclusions for everybody to see.

Finally: If the meaning of "RC" is in any way connected with the 
content of UNIVERSO KUBERNETES, let me say that I am not a religious 
man at all and therefore perhaps a mediocre christian. Is anyone is 
interested in discussing the contents of this DVD I be very glad to 
engage in that.

Thank you all for continuing to exchange ideas. I am sure we all try 
to build with whatever resources we have available and within our 
limitations too.

My best to all,

Javier Livas

On Dec 2, 2008, at 1:13 PM, BARRY A CLEMSON wrote:

> What is RC? And who is Javier?
>
> Barry
>
> On Dec 2, 2008, at 1:41 PM, Roger Harnden wrote:
>
>> I am sure Javier would take many issues with me. Isn't he deeply 
>> RC?? I'm not saying that in criticism, but it does lead to a 
>> particular set of social/human fundaments, most of which I would 
>> disagree with,
>>
>> Roger
>>
>>
>> On 2 Dec 2008, at 18:17, Stefan Wasilewski wrote:
>>
>>> Roger
>>>
>>> I think Javier may take issue with you on some elements here as 
>>> his thiird DVD will show.
>>>
>>> Stefan
>>>
>>> On 2 Dec 2008, at 18:11, Roger Harnden wrote:
>>>
>>>> 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
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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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 --
>>>>>>
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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
>
> Archive of CYBCOM eList available at -
http://hermes.circ.gwu.edu/archives/cybcom.html
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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