Stafford's Work

2023 Conference Programme

This interim programme has been updated to show the presentations and workshops organized by day. Specific timings and venues will be provided nearer the time.

There will be a facilitated plenary session at the end of each day and a facilitated workshop on Saturday afternoon, to reflect on the conference learning, and to decide on possibilities for collaboration and community development around emerging issues.

Day 1: 08/06/2023


  • Angela Espinosa: Viability through emancipation – learning from VSM practice.
  • Robin Asby: Designing Democracy: a systemic blueprint for governing.
  • John Hicks: Digital accessibility: a key to emancipation and viability for those who need it most, and everyone else too.
  • Trevor Hilder: Why VSM/MMF is the “organisational physics” of Sociocracy.
  • Russell Clemens: Situating the Viable Systems Model within a Critical Futures Studies review of Indian elephant-human conflict.
  • Camilo Osejo: Cybernetics and the emergence of cultural politics: a study of the Colombian uprisings of 2021.
  • Iffat Sabbir: An application of the Viable System Model for diagnosing an emotional work environment.
  • J. O’Donnell, D. Desmond & M. MacLachlan: Getting giraffes and ostriches to meet in the middle: designing viable safe virtual disability spaces to satisfy future demand.


  • Peter Tuddenham: ChatGPT and cybernetics: implications for today’s world (workshop).
  • Peter Kawalek: Designing data freedom: Stafford Beer’s work applied to civil rights and criminal justice.
  • Martin Pfiffner, Mark Lambertz & Stephen Davies: Current VSM application in the transformation of one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers into a new era of mobility (workshop).
  • James Fox: Dis/agreement in participatory organisations: low theory and democratic governance in cybernetics.
  • David Cooper: Accelerated community learning (workshop).
  • Allenna Leonard & Ian Kendrick: Playing a VSM game (workshop).

Day 2: 09/06/2023


  • Wolfgang Lassl: Landmark ’50 years VSM’ – invitation to an emancipation journey.
  • Ivo Velitchkov. Viability of personal knowledge systems.
  • Ayham Fattoum: Configuring systems to be viable in a crisis: the role of intuitive decision-making.
  • Stephen Davies: Accessing the zone of emergence.
  • Jose Carlos Mariategui: Uncovering Stafford Beer’s influence in Latin America: a focus on Peru.
  • Kelsie Nabben: Aligning ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’ to Precedents in Cybernetics (workshop).
  • Alison Gurthrie-Wrenn: Leading to learn – learning from leading a systemic intervention in central government, a new practitioner’s perspective.
  • Cintia Faria: Challenges with emancipation within integrated care systems.
  • Michael Ward: From reductionism to systems thinking: a complementary approach to emancipatory change.


  • Krishna Balthu: Emancipating the emancipator: refining agency in action research through a holonic modelling.
  • Czeslaw Mesjasz: Complex systems management and the traps of sustainability and corporate sustainability as polysemic notions.
  • Benjamin Taylor: The Viable System Model and Human System Dynamics through the lens of Barry Oshry’s Organic Systems Model.
  • Julie Mackie: Viability and sustainable approach in action: learning from a work-based project to kick-start the design of an anchor institution strategic framework for an NHS trust operating as part of a new anchor network.
  • Luis Armando Vásquez-Ruiz, Juan Enrique Núñez Ríos & Pedro Pablo Cardoso Castro: Exploring the Viable System Model as an alternative to foster sustainable change.
  • E.B. Bassam & Jose Carlos Mariategui: Introduction and screening of ‘Cybersyn 1973/2023’.

Day 3: 10/06/2023


  • Marc Pearson & Kerry Turner: Campfires and cave drawings.
  • Juliana Alves, Jon Walker, Peter Tuddehman, John Waters, Pedro Pablo Cardoso & Angela Espinosa: Viability and sustainable water management.
  • Martin Pffifner, Angus Jenkinson, Jose Perez Rios, Steve Brewis, Jon Walker & Angela Espinosa: VSM application insights and questions from our VSM application research group (Metaphorum and CybSoc members).
  • John Waters: Applying some cybernetic concepts to planetary viability – a skeleton on which to build.
  • Gary Alexander: A new common sense or VSM for all.


  • Open space: Walk about and find your tribe – learning from the conference.
  • Metaphorum reinvented & conference closure.
  • Metaphorum Annual General Meeting.


The conference schedule will be available very soon. Meanwhile, please note
the following times:

  • 09.00-09.30: registration
  • 09.30-17.00: presentations
  • 09.30-17.00: presentations
  • 09.30-16.00: workshops

We also want to invite those speakers who wish to publish their work (after having feedback from the conference’s participants) to consider participating in one of the following special issues that members of the Steering Committee are co-editing. Authors will have time until September/November 2023 to submit a full paper. The papers will be reviewed following the established process in each of the journals:

  1. Systemic Practice and Action Research

    We are planning special issue with SPAR, on the topic of our conference ‘Viability through emancipation (or the hidden agenda of viability)’, bringing together the best papers from the conference. The deadline for submission of a full paper will be 15th September 2023.

  2. Frontiers in Sustainability

    See invitation to participate.

    If you are interested in submitting a paper to this special issue, the deadline for submission of abstracts is 15th September 2023 and the deadline for submission of manuscripts 15th November 2023.