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PHD-DESIGN  February 2015

PHD-DESIGN February 2015

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Subject:

Re: Beer's Variable Systems Model

From:

Klaus Krippendorff <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Feb 2015 06:40:30 +0000

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beer's VSM is not a variable systems model but a viable systems model

k



-----Original Message-----

From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ken Friedman

Sent: Friday, February 06, 2015 12:02 AM

To: [log in to unmask]

Subject: Beer's Variable Systems Model



Dear Terry,



Thanks for your post. This really is not about "Automated image rhetoric and user characteristics assessment” at all. It deserves a new header, I am replying under the header of your topic. The topic is Stafford Beer’s Variable Systems Model (VSM).



Carlos did not seems to suggest that VSM is not useful. To me, his post asked what exactly it is that you propose. How specifically can we make Beer’s VSM useful in the design field. (It may be an editor’s eye, but using proper nouns that do not refer to a specific individual or organisation confuses me. I understand that you propose Beer’s VSM as useful for the design field. I do not understand what you mean by saying that VSM is useful for “Design” with an upper-case [D]. This seems to be something new and different from the verb design and the common noun design as you have written about them in the past.



There is also some confusion on how this is to work “at the level of IASDR and international strategic planning about design practices, research and education.” IASDR is the International Association of Societies of Design Research. It is an organisation for membership organisations in the field of design research. The member societies are the Chinese Institute of Design, Design Research Society, the Design Society, the Japanese Society for the Science of Design, and the Korean Society for Design Science. IASDR is a mechanism for shared communication between and among the five member societies. IASDR holds a conference every two years in the off year to the biennial conferences of the other societies.



How precisely should Stafford Beer’s Variable Systems Model work for a society comprised of membership organisations that has no direct function in strategic planning? Who is to do “international strategic planning about design practices, research and education” using Beer’s VSM? How are they to use and apply it?



I might be wrong, but I think that this is what Carlos was asking by implication.



While I am aware of Stafford Beer’s work in management and such books as The Brain of the Firm, Beer’s proposal seem to work for organisations, social systems, nations, or entities that have some organised basis of interaction for their constituent parts and units. I can see that individual organisations might be able too apply Beer if they had on-going functions rather than a single conference every two year, each conference organised by a different host organisation. I do not understand how you propose to use Beer to solve the problems of an entire field.



For those who wish to see Beer speak or read Beer’s work for themselves, a commemorative site provides useful links to other sites and to Beer’s own books.



http://ototsky.mgn.ru/it/beer_menu.html



Since you — or some other list member — can explain these issues in a discussion-list post rather than a comprehensive article, I’d welcome the explanation for which Carlos implicitly asks.



How are we to use Stafford Beer’s Variable Systems Model to solve the problems of the design field? It would help to have a few clear definitions along with way — what is Stafford Beer’s Variable Systems Model? What do you mean by [D]esign as distinct from the design field? Which agencies or organisations are responsibility for “international strategic planning about design practices, research and education”? How do you propose that the apply Beer’s VSM? 



Or, to put it another way, what do you (Terry Love) see as the “specific cultural and organisational failings or organisational illnesses” of the design field. How can we use Beer’s VSM to change this situation?



Stafford Beer was a genuinely interesting thinker. Nevertheless, his work does not seem to apply to the design field. It is hard to see how to apply VSM to the eco-system of an international profession with tens of thousands of practitioners for which no one organisation has responsibility or even licensing capacity. There is no unified forum for research or for education, either. There are at least 20,000 organisations, universities, colleges, design schools, publishers, member societies, museums, archives, and the like in over 100 nations that deal with some combination of education, education and research, or research. Hardly any of these communicate in any significant way with more than a few others.   



How is one to use Beer’s VSM in this situation?



Yours,



Ken



Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | 设计 She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Elsevier in Cooperation with Tongji University Press | Launching in 2015



Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| University Distinguished Professor | Centre for Design Innovation | Swinburne University of Technology | Melbourne, Australia



Email [log in to unmask] | Academia http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn 



—



Terry Love wrote:



—snip—



I was suggesting something different - that Beer's work gives a different kind of insight into how to improve Design. This is at the level of IASDR and international strategic planning about design practices, research and education, rather than concerns of individual designers, but it has potential implications through the professional design network



Beer's work indicates there are specific cultural and organisational failings or organisational illnesses that emerge over time for eco-systems such as Design if they do not appropriately contain all the elements of the Beerian Viable Systems Model. The VSM  is considered a well established approach in organisational systems field, with Beer himself having a substantial reputation in that area



https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Anthony_Stafford_Beer.html



Beer's VSM seems useful in developing the Design field as a whole as it offers a sort of checklist of what might be missing, how to check whether the missing bits cause the problems, and what to do to fix the situation.



—snip--





 





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