Viable Systems Model LO29595

From: Tony Barrett (
Date: 11/27/02

Replying to LO29563 --

Responding to Rick and LO LO29563

[Host's Note: Tony or anyone else, could you say a bit about the "viable
systems model" and how it relates to the material in Mindwalk. For what
it's worth, I sometimes use Minkwalk in by workshop programs. ..Rick]

I'm going from memory since I saw the film several years ago. After the
scientist explains how we are no longer using a mechanical model for
understanding the universe since now we think in systems, the poet says, "
I don't think I like being a system any more than I like being a machine."
(I hope I was close).

[Host's Note: I think that's very close! ..Rick]

The problem I see with a systems model, or the viable system model, is
deep down it is reductionistic. It limits how we see life or organizations
as problems not as mysteries. I come more from an interpretive (symbolic)
perspective (e.g.,Clifford Geertz, Karl Weick), where life and
organizations can be seen as a drama or text to be interpreted. An author
whom I appreciated is Mary Jo Hatch Organization Theory (1997). She
advocates a looking at the interplay between modern, symbolic, and
post-modern perspectives. From my point of view it seems that system
thinking is coming from a modern perspective. Each perspective has its
strengths and weaknesses. The action lies in the interplay between the


"Tony Barrett" <>

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