Management Cybernetics

Excerpted from Part Six of

Super-Smart Democracies: Dissolving Neoliberalism, Elitism and Managerialism

By obeying cybernetic rules, it is possible to ensure the continuing viability of any kind of complex human system. As Patrick Hoverstadt says1,

Cybernetics is a way of understanding organisations that is universally applicable and a set of natural laws and basic principles that are the fundamentals of organising. They can be applied to any situation, any organisation of any size, whether private or public sector, ruthlessly self-serving or wholly altruistic, centralised or diversified.

Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems Model (VSM) encapsulates the laws of cybernetics and so far we have not found any organization to which it does not apply.

Conversely therefore, as long as most senior executives (and politicians and political activists) lack a working knowledge of how to apply Management Cybernetics (and the other Super-Smarts) in managing the complexities of their organisations, the findings of Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2005 report will continue to be typical.  From a survey of 1400 CEOs they found that: 2

70% said managing the increasing complexity of their organisations was a high priority, 91% believed that this required special skills, tools and approaches, but only 5% believed they had the skills needed.3

Thus it is no wonder that

Over 90% of strategic plans are never implemented. Over 70% of change projects fail.4

Nor, with such high levels of executive inadequacy in the private sector, is it any wonder that so many ambitious initiatives in the public sector are dismal failures.  Presidents, Ministers, Mayors, Mandarins and Policy Czars may be well-intentioned, but their lack of understanding of the special skills, tools and approaches (i.e. ensembles of Super-Smarts) that they need, mean that they will be unable to manage the complexities of the issues they have to deal with.

1Patrick Hoverstadt: The Fractal Organisation: Creating Sustainable Organisations with the Viable Systems Model. Wiley 2008

2 PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited. 9th Annual Global CEO Survey : Globalisation and Complexity*

3 Patrick Hoverstadt: ibid

4. Patrick Hoverstadt:ibid

4 Patrick Hoverstadt: