Using the Viable System Model and Its Real-time Monitoring to Address Climate Change


  • Allenna Leonard Complementary Set


Viable System Model, Real-time Monitoring, Climate Change


 Stafford Beer’s Viable System presents a template of the different management functions of any organization that can be scaled from small to large. It is an appropriate model to address the related contextual aspects of the planetary climate.  It can coordinate  the real time – or almost real time – monitoring of essential variables that affect planetary health


Human survival should be a purpose almost everyone supports. It depends on a healthy environment: livable temperatures for humans, flora and fauna including  mitigation measures. A planetary System Five would embody these values.


System Four, focused on the future, scans emerging trends, weak signals and opportunities for implementing both improved technology and equitable human development.


System Three manages and the inside and now of the organization. It features resource bargains where trade-offs can be explored. Because resources are limited choices should focus on key variables.


System Two keeps track of conformance with agreed standards and protocols for gathering and recording information. Routine aspects monitored need to be standardized to be fully comparable.


System Three Star is an audit function that mops up the variety that isn’t already accommodated. It may be a sporadic ‘ miss anything’ check or it might investigate specific events.


The System One operations would look at different aspects of the human system’s interactions with their natural and social environments. Some of these would be efforts to provide clean water, clean energy, more natural agriculture and aquaculture and health and education services for the populations.


This template’s levels of recursion from the planetary to the community could keep track of homeostats reflecting essential variables and identify gaps or shortcomings in sustainability efforts. Much of the recommended information is   gathered but not always integrated. Such an effort could be revenue-neutral by catching trends before they became crises.




Author Biography

Allenna Leonard, Complementary Set

Allenna Leonard consults and facilitates internationally, in organizational cybernetics, primarily but not exclusively the models and processes developed by Stafford Beer. She is past-president of the American Society for Cybernetics