Viable System Model – the second fulcrum.

The second fulcrum in transformative venturing is the way in which the venture is organized/organizes itself. I’ve recently been introduced into something that has come closest to describing what it means to build a successful organization. And it’s not about outcomes or results – those are simply that, outcomes – it’s about the way in which it’s done.

(Stafford Beer‘s) Viable Systems Model, or VSM is a model of the organisational structure of any viable or autonomous system. 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. The VSM expresses a model for a viable system, which is an abstracted cybernetic description that is applicable to any organisation that is a viable system and capable of autonomy.

I also have the good fortune of being able to apply this model on a deeply transformative initiative with someone who has intimately been involved with application of the viable systems model for a couple of decades. The deeper I get into it the more it rings true — which shouldn’t be surprising considering it is ‘simply’ based on looking at how all life organizes itself in viable systems. Next time you’re faced with some organizational challenges or considering building a venture to tackle something deeply important, do everyone a favour and spend some time with this model and/or people who understand it.

Next post – venturing forward.

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