If cybernetics is the science of control, management is the profession of control.
The design of a Viable System is not hierarchical and is not authoritative. Senior manager’s role is defined as a ‘Service Provider’ rather than a point of authority; and there is a very good reason for that: Laws of Variety.
It is simply impossible to have an operational unit capable of effectively and efficiently deal with multitude of varieties in its environment and being directed all the time.
System 1 ( sub-systems are intentionally designed with the maximum autonomy possible. The only thing limiting their autonomy is their defined purpose aligned with the overall organisational purpose.
Let’s have a closer look at other parts of the Viable System design:
We will seek the source of effective organisation in the cybernetics of natural processes - the brain itself.
As an organisation grows in size and complexity, more processes are involved and more management functions are needed to make sure they are being managed properly:
If the organisation above has a surviving identity, or being capable of independent existence, we can assume that this organisation is a Viable System.
The answer lies in the approach we take by default as human beings in dealing with conflict:
We tend to alienate the "other" side.
Instead of listening, observing, and understanding WHY people are voting for Trump, we just ignore them and deliver long-winded logical reasoning on why he should not be the president.
Many theories, developed to explain the behaviour of organisations, think in one way or another in a linear cause-and-effect way: A causes B, and B leads to C. Even a complex model such as Systems Dynamics (developed by professor Jay Forrester) tries to create an understanding of nonlinear behaviour of complex systems over time through a network of linear cause-and-effect loops.
However, the real life might be much more complex than that. The A’s, B’s, and C’s of these models are inseparably interconnected to multitude of variables; therefore, for these models to have any meaningful outcome they have to capture all the intricate, and many times obscure relations. Any kind of simplification will cause the model not able to describe the real system.
The Viable System Model, in contrast, embraces a holistic approach to organisations (and systems), providing a theory to identify and explain what a Viable System should look like.
In classical logic, Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction states that you can not be “A” and “Not A” at the same time. Consequently, we can divide anything between “A” and “Not A”; and furthermore, “A” into “B” and “Not B”; and so on and so forth.
On his obituary, The Guardian described him as a “world leader in the development of operational research, who combined management systems with cybernetics”. Professor Stafford Beer is well known for his considerable contributions to the fields of Operational Research and Management Cybernetics.