The viable system model in today’s world

I ran a training session on the viable system model yesterday, using a case study and my own practitioner experience to make the model ‘come to life’ for those in the room.  I think I was blessed because the group were fantastic and exactly in the right mind space to be receptive to the session.

I’m not really interested in regurgitating reams and reams of academics or unpicking a project that took place 50 years ago. I’m interested in being mindful of the past but working in the context of today. How people use the model now, today, in their own work environments. How it feels, what the barriers are and what insights it can unlock.

What I was hoping to demonstrate was that with no prior knowledge of a particular organisation, within one day of applying the model, some very powerful insights can be gained.

I also shared the way I have been using the model lately and how I have been considering how its application contributes to the conditions required to enable the development of skills and behaviours that can bring the humanity back to our work.

I talked about the impact of identity, relationships and new models of power and control. Purpose, meaning and strategies of collaboration and reciprocity. Policies of collaboration, sharing, empowering and enabling. Leaving efficiency behind and focussing on effectiveness and ensuring you have system ‘health checks’ in place that monitor the ability to adapt, flex, pivot and change. I talked about coaching, supporting and holding each other to account. Autonomy and accountability and at the same time, support for risk taking and failing.

When you take this mindset and couple it with the viable system model, you end up with a very powerful model for a different kind of organisational governance.

Does the viable system model have a place in today’s world – yes, it does. Can sharing about the VSM evolve beyond its highly technical model – yes, it can. Are people out there using it – yes, they are, and they are willing to bring the humanity back into the work and work with passion towards what they believe to be a positive way forward.

…….and the feedback was great!

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