States to Avoid



viable syntegration

Last updated 2nd March 2004

Angela Espinosa, Leonie Solomons, Rod Thomas, Roger Harnden.


Iteration One

It is a very great challenge to be true to an individual and his work without being accused of:

  • promoting the individual
  • worshipping the individual (gurudom)
  • plagiarizing (only in academia)
  • dumbing down
  • To guard against this we want to acknowledge his contribution and develop practical guides such as teaching aids.

Iteration Two

A key principle of management cybernetics – Only variety can destroy variety. Varietal states that would be usefully and beneficially avoided if we wish to preserve and progress the legacy include:

  • The lack of regular conversations…If we had effective dialogue we wouldn’t be criticising applications after the fact.
  • Avoid practitioners working in isolation.
  • Revisionist history (e.g. saying Stafford tried to take over Chile and make it a tyranny).
  • The absence of interdisciplinarity, recursivity, requisite variety, autonomy and other measures in Heart of Enterprise in the context of applications of Stafford’s work.
  • People doing applications that nobody else finds out about.
  • Poor scholarship.
  • Not developing complementary teaching materials.
  • Not developing related models and tools.
  • Not participating in discussions on democracy and public issues.
  • Avoiding human use of human beings becoming a norm on the consultancy level.
  • Not being able to show success in an industrial application.
  • Stafford said “Don’t leave my name on the VSM if you’ve changed it.”
  • Not having a network at the academic level to call someone on a misinterpretation.
  • Having the work forgotten.
  • Not enough successful applications documented.

The future of systems thinking in general is under threat. How can we maintain momentum when the champions in the field pass away?

Please expand our list by putting in other states to avoid to help us formulate our recommendations tomorrow.

Outcome Resolve

In the course of our conversations we understood that our identified “states to avoid” have emerged and been addressed somehow in most of the other teams. This understanding shifted our attention to the emerging community and its challenges after the Syntegration, in terms of real-time management.

We agreed that there’ll be a need for 3* mechanisms dealing with algedonic signals in order to enable the total group to more fully appreciate dangers and threats as it moves into the future. This assumes that the total group wishes to be a viable system over time.

We’ll expect each member to contribute to self organisation through autonomous actions (developing some projects within the agreed ethos: The purpose of the system is what it does).

We’ll design a mechanism to let us share algedonic signals whenever they need to be produced and handled by this virtual organisation.