Viable system model

The viable system model (VSM) is a model of the organisational structure of any autonomous system capable of producing itself - wikipedia

Here is a link to a talk on the VSM given on Nov.1 2020 by Marc Pierson. Marc on VSM

We can consider human organizations as three interacting parts: E, O, & M. The Environment of the organization, of which the enterprise is one part. The Operations parts (of what may become an enterprise), provides something of use to and with "it's" Environment. And finally a Metasystem which is originally meant to support the Operations part. As you see there is a kind of dynamic cause and effect Interaction going on, though it is Circular.

The Environment self-organizes and complexifies "itself" by giving birth to (allowing the emergence of) Operations which in tern self-organizes, to Complexify itself and its Environment by giving birth to (allowing) the emergence of its Metasystem. Of course, then a set of Metasystems (with their included Operational subsystems and respective Environments may further self-organize, further complexifying the situation, and create a next level of order, built of and upon itself but required to keep the prior interactions dynamically stable, Alive.

We often fatally simplify our language and then our thinking whenever we consider E, O, M as Separate systems or entities. That is one source of our undoing. We fail to realize the vital (life giving) nature of the interactions between E-O-M-E. And let me point out here, the "-" is essential, critical; so let's consider this most basic model of the VSM to have four parts, instead of three, E, O, M, we add the fourth, "-", or self-creating, self-sustaining interactions--a Homeostat.

It is no accident that I repeatedly use the word Complexify. The key to this whole upward cascade of self-organizing is to be found in the subtle Mechanism by which such complexification can logically and empirically be kept going. That general interaction mechanism to sustain complexity is the not-so-humble Homeostat.

A core aim of is to create software for decentralised governance. To this end we need an interface that clarifies the roles of the various functional parts of the system, and to do this at various levels.


# What is a viable system?

The VSM provides us with an excellent and well thought through starting point for the design of such a system. Pattern Language is another approach which we can learn from in the implementation of the software. Both the VSM and pattern language have particular relevance to the design of the Governance Interface to these systems.

A viable system is any system organised in such a way as to meet the demands of surviving in the changing environment. One of the prime features of systems that survive is that they are adaptable.

An exemplary model of a viable system. Assumption: There is one System 1 purchasing external resources and one System 1 which produces the value, delivered to the customers.  - wikimedia

The VSM expresses a model for a viable system, which is an abstracted cybernetic (regulation theory) description that is applicable to any organisation that is a viable system and capable of autonomy.

# Overview The model was developed by operations research theorist and cybernetician (cybernetics) Stafford Beer (Anthony Stafford Beer) in his book ''Brain of the Firm'' (1972). Together with Beer's earlier works on cybernetics applied to management, this book effectively founded management cybernetics.

The first thing to note about the cybernetic theory of organizations encapsulated in the VSM is that viable systems are recursive (recursion); viable systems contain viable systems that can be modeled using an identical cybernetic description as the higher (and lower) level systems in the containment hierarchy (Beer expresses this property of viable systems as ''cybernetic isomorphism'').

A development of this model has originated the theoretical proposal called viable systems approach.

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# See also