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This 2009 book published by W.W. Norton (and unabridged on audio CD) never mentions the Viable System Model or Syntegration. Yet its counterintutive and iconoclastic observations in 343 pages are constant oblique reminders of the VSM's many strengths.
For example, Stafford left us a coherent testable body of work. That corpus is a far cry from the much more readily saleable fresh-coined metaphors and imaginatively-labeled frameworks that faddish consulting feeds clients.
In fact, one lesson I took from Stewart's book is that some flimsy framework makes more sense to clients than a predictive model that can withstand Popperian falsification. He made a 10-year career of reusing the Pareto 80-20 Rule monotonously. In the end today's consultants' metapurpose is to calm the rebelliousness of employees who dislike their nominal superiors who brought the counsultants in.
The author does a fine job of getting down to fundamental mechanisms of causation -- not because of business school training but rather from his advanced graduate study in philosophy. His use of epistomology, etymology and economic history gets down to fundamentals much better than can spreadsheeting and business jargon.
Perhaps the most thoughtful theme of the book is that business strategy has never ever proven itself to be a genuine discipline, so its foundations for business strategy consulting is perpetually dubious.
In all, I found the book to inferentially be a deep critique of Beer's solid work. Does anyone have further thoughts on the Stewart book?