Viable System Model

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The Viable System Model

The objectives of the manual are:

  1. firstly, to provide you with a set of tools which will enable you to deal with any problems concerning your organisational structure, and
  2. secondly, to show you how to use these tools.

It offers an alternative to the usual approach which depends upon hierarchy, authority and obedience, and is of particular interest to enterprises which are looking for ways of becoming more efficient and of encouraging participation and democratic work practices.

As the manual unfolds, you will gradually acquire a new vocabulary. This new language is the basis of the Viable Systems Model approach: it will enable you to think about your organisation in a fundamentally different way.

The methods described will enable you to:

  • Diagnose your own organisation
  • Prescribe ways of dealing with inadequacies
  • Design a healthy organisation from scratch


Based on The Viable Systems Model Pack, originally published as part of the SMSE Strategic Management in the Social Economy training programme carried out by ICOM, CRU, CAG and Jon Walker with the financial assistance of Directorate General XXIII of the Commission of the European Communities.

  • The original version was completed October 1991. This 3rd revised version incorporates new material.
  • This HTML version was constructed by John Waters, who also prepared the diagrams and the bibliography.
  • Copyright © 1991 by ICOM, CRU, CAG and Jon Walker. Copyright © 1998 by Jon Walker.
  • Version 3.0 - Last modified 9th August 200

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