Compare Viable Systems Model (VSM) and Soft Systems Model (SSM) in terms of their way of dealing with organisational issues.

Topics: Systems theory, Soft systems methodology, Systems thinking Pages: 10 (2547 words) Published: February 5, 2003
INDEX

1. The Differentiation between VSM and SSM

1.1 Viable System Model..........................................................................2

1.1.1 A brief overview of VSM.......................................................2

1.1.2 Argumentation on VSM........................................................3

1.2 Soft Systems Methodology....................................................4

1.2.1 A simple description of SSM................................................4

1.2.2 Commentary on SSM..........................................................5

1.3 Comparison between VSM and SSM......................................6

2. The Mutualism between VSM and SSM...............................8

2.1 The Relationship between SSM and the VSM.............................8

2.2 Combining use of the VSM and the SSM...............................10

3. Conclusion..............................................................................10

4. Bibliography............................................................................11

1. The Differentiation between VSM and SSM

1.1 Viable System Model

The VSM is a powerful tool; it establishes the adequacy of the strategies used by an organization to cope with the complexity of its tasks. The VSM is a model of the web of regulatory mechanisms that are needed in an organization to cope successfully with the inherent large complexity of real-world tasks.

1.1.1 A brief overview of VSM

There are five systems in the process of VSM, each of which takes the different functions. The system 1 of an organization consists of the various parts of it directly concerned with implementation. Each part of System 1 should be autonomous in its own right, so that it can absorb some of the massive environmental variety that would otherwise flood higher management levels. This means the parts themselves must be viable systems and must exhibit the five functions-- the model is 'recursive'; the structure of the whole is replicated in each of the parts. System 1 has some special primacy in Beer's VSM because it consists of other viable systems and because it produces the viable system of which it is part. The management 'meta-system', Systems2-5, emerges from the need to facilitate the operations of system 1, and to ensure the suitable adaptation of the whole organization. System 2, coordination, is necessary to ensure that the various elements making up system 1 act in harmony. System 3 is a control function ultimately responsible for the internal stability of the organization. It must ensure that system 1 implements policy effectively. System 4, or the intelligence function, has two main tasks. First, it switches information both ways between the 'thinking chamber' of the organization, system 5 and the lower-level systems. Second, it must capture fro the organization, all relevant information about its total environment. System 4 is the point in the organization where internal and external information can be brought together. One of its most difficult tasks is balancing the sometimes antagonistic internal and external demands placed on the organization, as represented by the requirements of system3 and system 4 respectively. System 5 must also represent the essential qualities of the whole system to any wider system of which it is part.

1.1.2 Argumentation on VSM

The VSM lays down a minimum set of necessary relations that must obtain if a system is to continue long in existence. It does not try to provide a detailed blueprint for design. There are five features of the VSM which serve it most advantageously when it is used to assist management practice.

Firstly, the model is capable of dealing with organizations the parts of which are both vertically and horizontally interdependent. The notion of recursion enables the VSM to cope with the vertical interdependence displayed in a multinational company which itself consists of divisions,...

Bibliography: Ć Beckford, John, 1958, The Viable system model: a more adequate tool for practicing management. (T/H 1993, P.H.D. B3.)
Ć Checkland, Peter B, 1990, Soft Systems Methodology in Action, JOHN WILEY & SONS
Ć Checkland, Peter B, 1993, Systems Thinking, System Practice,
Ć Chichester, Wiley, 1989, The Viable System Model: interpretation and application of Stafford Beer 's VSM, JOHN WILEY&SONS
Ć D.E.AVISON and G.FITZGRALD, 2000, Information Systems Development Methodologies Techniques and Tools, 2nd Edition, The McGran-Hill Companies
Ć Johnson and Richard Arvid, 1992, Systems Theory and Management, XEROX
Ć Robert L. Flood and Norma R.A.Romm, 1997, Critical System Thinking: current research and practice, Plenum Press, New York and London
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