The cybernetic model of viable systems is employed in this study as a diagnostic tool to investigate viability through an illustrative case study of a service industry. This paper illustrates the similarities of a viable system model (VSM) to a learning organisation model; the viable system model (VSM) developed by Stafford Beer are important steps to improve current operations, prepare for new operations and adapt to change inside and outside the environment. The technique of integrating what is happening (observed state) and desired state is the basic comparator in this simple cybernetic model. The emphasis of this study is on continuous enhancement of the effectiveness of learning and development practices within Veolia Energy (Dalkia) Ireland. The effectiveness question and the basis of this study is ‘How can Veolia Energy (Ireland) improve its learning and development initiatives and practices to enhance performance improvement?’
The need to have an evaluation framework in place in the organization was vital. The purpose is to evaluate the effectiveness of the organizations learning and developments practices and measure the improvement process. This linkage is aligned to System 1, 2 and 3 of the VSM model. The pre-course questionnaire is the current state of what is happening in the organization and team, while the level 1 and 2 evaluation is the reaction and learning that actually took place comparing it with the desired state set out in the pre-course questionnaire, level 3 and 4 of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model compares the observed state and desired state of the delegates that attended training. Levels 3 and 4 evaluation emphasizes the Impact on the organization, the first impact is the operational benefit, here the relationship built and developed with clients increases business scope with the client, bridges the communication gap and builds on trust to foster good relationship between employees and clients.
Finally, I have carried out evaluation of the training and learning programs; the next level of the cybernetic loop will be evaluating the improvement that I have been making, that is improvement of the process and interventions. The next step will be to give the feedback of the findings of the evaluations to the managers, highlighting the improvements. I am introducing the multiple levels of evaluation, I am evaluating and getting people to evaluate the improvement process, and I am putting in a feedback program so that the training can be continuously improved.