Leonard and Richards on Stafford Beer

ASC Speaker series: Cybernetics and humans’ knowing

March 21, 9:00 PT, 12:00 ET, 17:00pm CET

ASC Speaker series: Cybernetics and humans’ knowing



During this ASC Series event Jude Lombardi will facilitate a conversation between two long-term members and past-presidents of the ASC, Allenna Leonard and Larry Richards, about the life and work of Stafford Beer (1926-2002).

As many might know, Beer was a prolific producer of many things — in a variety of domains. He was, according to Leonard, a “polymath—a scientist who painted, wrote poetry, taught yoga and cooked a delicious Yorkshire pudding.” 

During our 50-minute interview, the two presenters will share their professional and personal thoughts on Stafford Beer as well as share their thoughts on two – of the many – models Stafford Beer created during his career as a cybernetician.

		ASC Speaker Series #4: Leonard and Richards on Stafford Beer image
Viable Systems Model (VSM) and the Icosahedron used in Team Syntegrity

Models are not good or bad, right or wrong, only more or less useful in a given context. — Stafford Beer

Leonard will briefly discuss the Viable Systems Model, VSM (1975) — an organizational structure made up of viable autonomous systems that are designed to survive the requirements of any dynamic environment. While Richards will briefly discuss the Team Syntegrity a process based non-hierarchical structure geared toward problem solving with a group of 10 to 42 participants.

The core of this conversation will focus on the cybernetic concepts and premises related to the models presented as identified in the attached papers. We will also explore possible similarities and differences between the two models as well as how they might complement one another. 

We will then spend the last 40 minutes of this event in dialogue with attendees based on their questions and comments. 

More information on each model:

Participants’ bios

Judith (jude) Lombardi has been a member of the ASC since 1992. She is a social worker who after getting a phd. in Human Relations and Cybernetics became a sociology professor, video-ethnographer and social documentarian. She currently thinks one of the most significant ways to provoke social change and transformation is through our languaging and the arts.

Allenna Leonard has been a member of ASC since being introduced to it by her professor, Barry Clemson. She worked with Stafford Beer applying his Viable System Model and facilitating his Team Syntegrity process which has recently completed its first all on-line event. She is currently serving as president of the Metaphorum organization founded to continue his work and is affiliated with the Cwarel Isaf Institute, established by Malik Management for the same purpose.

Larry (Laurence) Richards is a long-time attendee at conferences of the American Society for Cybernetics, serving as ASC President from 1986-88. He is now retired after 32 years in higher education administration at three institutions: Old Dominion University, Bridgewater State University and Indiana University. His interests include the cybernetics of choice, social design and transformation, and the technology of time.

		ASC Speaker Series #4: Leonard and Richards on Stafford Beer image

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