From a correspondence with
LO>2. To use biosemiotics as more deep ground for the Stafford Beer's
Viable System Model.
AS>Actually I am not familiar with Beer's books. We
have some of them in our library. Can you recommend what is the best to read?
May be you can briefly outline his ideas?
LO> The most compact form is in -
There are references to the books there too ("Brain of the Firm", for
AS> My impression is that Beer's Viable System Model is very similar to Maturana & Varela's theory of
Autopeiesis. Have you read it? Maturana & Varela are biologists,
and for me it is easier to understand them. .....
AS> Wow, I found that Beer wrote a Preface to Maturana and Varela's book!Here is it:
So I was right about the link between them!!
From the "To keep abreast of the 21st Century" paper
(see the "For CIO" part of
the site )
Obviously, long-term objectives cannot be reached using traditional top-down
regulation based on more or less arbitrarily selected standards that are
weakly related to practice. Instead, "natural standards" have
to evolve from a long history of trails and errors. Also, they
should resemble "natural" information objects and processes
that are universal for all viable systems .
1. - Stafford Beer
"The Viable System Model: Its provenance, development, methodology and pathology"
Activities in developing deep enterprise models are related with a wider use of
the system approach (for example ISO 184/SC5/WG1 - http://www.mel.nist.gov/sc5wg1 )
and the Stafford Beer's 5-level model of an enterprise as a living
organism. The TOC model ( www.goldratt.com ) is very close to the 3rd and 4th levels of the
Beer's model ....
I expect an increasing "humanization" of the models on the basis of integration of
the Stafford Beer's "Viable System Model" with the Maturana and Varela's
"The TOC Times Quarterly" , June 2001
I trust that you will find this article insightful and welcome your feedback.
Join us in our next TOC Times Quarterly for September. I will comment on the
relationship between TOC, Autopoiesis and the work of Stafford Beer's the Vaiable
System Model. My thanks to Leonid Ototsky from Russia who posed the question.
"Autopoietic Theory and Social Systems"
of Randall Whitaker
Cybersyn and Stafford Beer's Viable Systems Model
The application of autopoietic theory to enterprises dates back to the time and
place of the theory's origin. During the Allende regime in Chile, an ambitious
project named Cybersyn was undertaken to apply principles of cybernetics to the
integration and management of Chile's national economy. The 'prime contractor'
for this work was the British cyberneticist Stafford Beer, creator of the Viable
System Model (VSM) for cybernetic enterprise management. Maturana has been cited
as one of the sources for the ideas which underpinned the Cybersyn work. Beer's
Chilean work during the period 1971-1973 is described in his book Brain of the Firm.
The Cybersyn project was abruptly terminated with the September 1973 coup that
overthrew the Allende government. Beer remained an enthusiastic advocate of Maturana
and Varela's ideas (as evidenced by his preface in Maturana & Varela, 1980). His most
recent work has been in applying cybernetic principles to the configuration of
enterprise teams (Beer, 1994). Raul Espejo (Cybersyn's project manager) has continued
his work on applying autopoietic theory in enterprise studies, and he has co-authored
a book on Beer's VSM (Espejo & Harnden, 1989). Espejo's co-author Roger Harnden has
explored enterprise applications of Beer's VSM with regard to Maturana's theory of
linguistic interactions (Harnden, 1990).