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Get Your Beer Here!

The table below shows a mapping of 10 systems thinking approaches into 4 types based on primary “purpose“. I extracted this table from Michael C. Jackson‘s terrific “Systems Thinking: Creative Holism For Managers“.

Did you notice that the brilliant Stafford, awesome-last-name, Beer is listed twice and his “Team Syntegrity” approach falls under the “ensuring fairness of the system category“? In Jackson’s opinion, Beer created his cybernetics-based, recursive 5 subsystem, Viable System Model (VSM) for the purpose of improving the goal seeking performance of complex social systems. Beer, both a tasty drink and a staunch anti-hierarchy champion, got so pissed when BMs, BOOGLs, BUTTs, SCOLs and dudes with BFTs interpreted his VSM as just another way of implementing a CCH with omnipotent and omniscient bosses at levels 2-5, that he developed his wildly innovative, polyhedron-based, “Team Syntegrity” approach to ensure fairness in org governance. In his design of the VSM, even though Beer articulated that the sole purpose of subsystems 2-5 is to support the operations of system 1 at the bottom (you know, the DICforce where you and I dwell), people of importance still kept their self-serving UCB blinders on and interpreted his system of management to be hierarchical.

As the figure below shows, the VSM appears to be hierarchical on the surface and, since most (not all) managers operate on the “surface” because they no longer roll up their sleeves to dive into anything difficult to understand, they internalize it as a better way to run their CCH psychic prisons as instruments of domination. However, when one studies Beer’s VSM approach to org management, it’s a self sufficient system of collaboration and intergroup support with each subsystem playing a key role in the holarchy.

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