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I think I go along with what you say, Doug.

And, yes, I agree that use of VSM can help understand various things  
in a powerful way.

I suppose my frustration is that 'outing' the insight provided does  
not carry communicative power or seduction towards the message of the  
insight, if you know what I mean.

So even though I could actually talk to my colleagues about my  
insights, and they might well respond, 'Yes, I can see how that is  
so', for the most part they would go on to say either explicitly or by  
implication "But, so what?'.

And, perhaps I'm leaning towards the view that what they really meant  
was 'That's all very well and good, Roger. But what's in it for me?'

And my instinct is that the seductive answer to that question entails  
a paradigm shift on their part, entails some sort of a unselfishness  
and cooperative view point. And in practice, most people in their  
professional workplace all the time mouth such platitudes, but at the  
crunch moment, voting with their feet, will at the moment of action  
fall back into selfish mode (as did the concentration camp guards).

Now, I don't believe that this is inevitable or intrinsic to human  
nature. In this forum, my own questioning concerns a query as to what  
the VSM adds to the need for such seduction.

Roger

On 20 Mar 2010, at 14:30, Doug McDavid wrote:

> Thanks, Roger.  Very interesting stories, so I am glad that my comment
> elicited that burst of angst.
>
> In the example arena, POSIWID would make us suspect that there is a
> system whose purpose it is to create huge financial markets with high
> liquidity and minimal tangible backing, for the further purpose of
> creating large bonus pools for bankers.  Without passing judgment, the
> VSM should help us analyze this proposed system, to see if it's really
> a viable system, or the mental artifact of a spurious distinction.
> I'm not saying that the analyst shouldn't pass judgment on any
> cultural grounds, but that the VSM itself does not.
>
> On your point of recursions, I agree that the vantage point and
> viewing mechanism are key to making useful and important distinctions,
> which can then be variously analyzed, including by the VSM, but also
> other techniques.  My colleague Steve Haeckel subjects clients to
> merciless grilling about the "Reason for Being" of the organization in
> question.  Not what it does by the result of historic evolution, but
> what it SHOULD be doing that underpins all else.  His work stems from
> the Russ Ackoff school of thought, among others.
>
> By the way, I think many people here think I'm wrong, and that VSMing
> something improves it.  That VSM is a prescription for goodness of a
> fundamental kind.  I think VSMing something might reveal how utterly
> effectively it does something bad!
>
>
>
> On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 5:53 AM, Roger Harnden  
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Well, Doug.....I wasn't really making a distinction between  
>> criminality and
>> legality. except in the most trivial cases ('It is illegal to park  
>> on double
>> yellow lines'). I don't really go along with such distinctions  
>> which are
>> always relative to the transient fads and conventions of a given  
>> culture.
>> That's in part why I wasn't a good company director (either in a  
>> dishonest
>> or an honest sense).
>> I was more trying to tease out a distinction between systemic and  
>> personal
>> (not that such is objectively real, but is certainly an inevitable
>> accompaniment of our everyday actions).
>> Once more that's why I like to talk about 'an hermeneutics of  
>> distinction',
>> and the responsibilities embodied in the making of distinctions as  
>> such (as
>> both Maturana and Von Foerster would attest). Systems thinking just  
>> has no
>> 'making sense' without a counter balance of the implications (for  
>> morality,
>> for ethics. for meaning) of our making of distinctions. That's the
>> importance of the system-in-focus - a distinction which tends to
>> disappearance it has been made.
>> So, for instance, recently I was involved in 'PFI' projects in the  
>> UK (so
>> 'called ' private finance initiatives). I have never felt so  
>> ethically
>> soiled apart from a brief period as a late teenager when for a  
>> variety of
>> reasons I spent several weeks as a door-to seller of encyclopedia.  
>> These
>> projects, purported to focus on an end-customer (such as the  
>> 'patient' or
>> the 'student'), and bring together public and private funding to  
>> develop
>> infrastructure. In point of fact (which is now beginning to be  
>> publicly
>> acknowledged in UK)what they did is siphon huge amounts of public  
>> money from
>> the public into the coffers of companies such as Microsoft, Wimpey,
>> Redstone. In the specification stage of these projects, a gross sum  
>> had a
>> minimal amount targeted at the 'end-customer', the rest being  
>> sliced and
>> diced between the multinationals for the application of their own  
>> legacy
>> systems (road building, plumbing, utilites). This was same  
>> principle as that
>> of reconstruction in places such as Iraq (some would go further  
>> than William
>> Black, and say that Bush, Rumsfeld et al created the war to develop  
>> the
>> business opportunity for such projects to take money from the  
>> public purse
>> and distribute it to private corporations with minimal protest from  
>> the
>> regulatory authorities (given that these had been destroyed by the
>> conflict).
>> To get back to 'distinctions'. The distinction (in PFI) should have  
>> been
>> something to do with (for example) 'student', with the development of
>> support, boundaries, audit, all determined by 'student'. In point  
>> of fact,
>> such a distinction in all the meetings I attended, was never  
>> mentioned, even
>> in passing. However it permeated all public facing documentation  
>> ('the good
>> of our schools' etc). The distinction in practice (leading to  
>> 'effective
>> action' ) was explicitly to utilise and get revenue from legacy  
>> investment
>> which otherwise might shrivel on the shelf and upset the  
>> institutional
>> shareholders whose future profits depended on legacy investment  
>> outliving
>> its purpose.
>> I once suggested that project managemen teams for such  
>> interdepartmental and
>> company projects, shouldincluded a real-time auditor whose role ran  
>> parallel
>> to financial and deliverable accountability, and was explicitly  
>> focused on
>> the end-user....in other words, upon an initial distinction of the  
>> point of
>> need, the task of this function would be to ensure that the actual  
>> project
>> stayed within the demands of the original brief in terms of the  
>> demands and
>> promises entailing the end-user (S3*). None of the parties had any  
>> interest
>> in this, as it would cut across the actual distinction they all had  
>> made.
>> Indeed, such a function was seen as conflictual and disruptive, not  
>> because
>> it detracted value from the end-user, but because it might lessen  
>> profit on
>> the one hand, and political credibility on the other.
>> All the parties saw a system building around the end-user as  
>> irrelevant.
>> Each was driven by its own interest. And this was not a matter of  
>> unethical,
>> immoral or criminal - it was just taken as normal. This conclusion  
>> was
>> totally inevitable, once an initial distinction had been made in a
>> particular way.
>> I suppose that's why I keep trying to express the potential for a  
>> meta-level
>> identity with closure from the lowest level (the human being), and  
>> why I
>> keep trying to put into words that the issue is when such a 'top  
>> level'
>> degenerates into some such thing as the nation, the party, the  
>> religion, the
>> economy etc.
>>
>> And, Doug, I see the value in a model such as the VSM in this 'top/ 
>> bottom'
>> closure - in packing out the actual recursions of 'glocal'. I just  
>> don't see
>> the VSM fulfilling its potential without grasping this nettle. I  
>> don't see
>> it as sitting somewhere in the middle of such recursions. taking  
>> account of
>> one system 'up' an one system 'down'.
>> Anyway, there's my expression of angst for the week!
>> Roger
>>
>> On 20 Mar 2010, at 12:49, Stefan Wasilewski wrote:
>>
>> Doug
>> I've said here before, the VSM is a good model and that's all. It  
>> gives us
>> the opportunity to find the cracks not what the strategy. I've also  
>> said
>> that crime/policing is a necessary function of society in order to
>> continually stress test the system. With respect to the crisis and  
>> the
>> accountant's, the regulators gave the foxes the job of policing the
>> hen-house!
>>
>> On 20 Mar 2010, at 12:33, Doug McDavid wrote:
>>
>> Hi Roger --
>>
>> In your point below you mention the relation between VSM and  
>> unethical
>> behaviors, such as fraud.  It seems that we might want to go further
>> in separating VSM as an analytical tool from concerns such as ethics
>> in any aspect.  Partially because ethics are so much in the eye of  
>> the
>> beholder, but mostly because of the demonstrable viability of
>> unethical organizations.  With respect to instances of fraudulent
>> financial institutions, and arguably in such cases as Al Qaeda, etc.,
>> some organizations maintain a discomfiting level of apparent
>> viability.
>>
>> Doug
>>
>> On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 4:15 AM, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask] 
>> >
>> wrote:
>>
>> Russell,
>>
>> Another  point I feel vis a vis the VSM.......
>>
>> As Black says, this is massive and conscious fraud rather than any  
>> sort of
>>
>> systemic failure.
>>
>> And my anxiety about a naive use of tools such as VSM is to assume  
>> that
>>
>> 'systems' viability might have the critical mass to regulate or  
>> control such
>>
>> things as greed, criminality and fraud.
>>
>> As we all know, there are many many absolutely committed and  
>> honourable
>>
>> individuals taking decisions and running these institutions with  
>> the most
>>
>> moral intentions. However, what we saw with Bush et al (and  
>> according to
>>
>> Black what is continuing under Obama) is a deliberate corrupting of  
>> social
>>
>> institutions for personal rather than societal gain. And the scale  
>> of the
>>
>> vested interests is the thing that has to be addressed. This is  
>> just not
>>
>> about systems viability (as Black points out) but about personal gain
>>
>> whatever failure of the systems. And the systems viability is then  
>> viewed
>>
>> just as a distraction from personal interest.
>>
>> As a main board director at Amaze, I witnessed this dynamic all the  
>> time,
>>
>> without fully understanding the reasons (I was too naive to believe  
>> that
>>
>> people were so cynically undermining and hindering good practice).  
>> I entered
>>
>> my period as a director believing that people wanted systemic
>>
>> viability.....I ended, believing very few people are at all  
>> concerned with
>>
>> systemic viability,
>>
>> Roger
>>
>> On 20 Mar 2010, at 11:53, russell_c wrote:
>>
>> Roger,
>>
>> The implications for viability seem ominous -- after the earlier US  
>> Savings
>>
>> & Loan crisis there appeared to be some degree of auditing feedback  
>> leading
>>
>> to some level of accountability and consequence (system learning). If
>>
>> Black's perspective is accurate then this 'quality' has been lost  
>> and there
>>
>> appears to be a feed forward process in effect. That was my point.
>>
>> regards
>>
>> Russell
>>
>> On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask] 
>> >
>>
>> wrote:
>>
>> Russell.......
>>
>> Well, I'll be interested to hear what Stefan, Trevor and others  
>> have to
>>
>> say. Very convincing (and ominous about the way ahead),
>>
>> Roger
>>
>> On 20 Mar 2010, at 00:34, russell_c wrote:
>>
>> This is worth a view imo. One very sick system.
>>
>> William Black, author of "Best way to rob a bank is to own one" talks
>>
>> about deliberate fraud on Wall St.
>>
>>
>> http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4937&updaterx=2010-03-19+06%3A34%3A30
>>
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>>
>> --
>>
>> Doug McDavid
>> [log in to unmask]
>> 916-549-4600
>>
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>
>
> -- 
>
> Doug McDavid
> [log in to unmask]
> 916-549-4600
>
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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