Viable systems model

  • The Viable System Model (VSM) was developed by Stafford Beer and sets out the necessary and sufficient conditions required for organisational viability. That is, the capacity to successfully adapt to changes in social, economic, technological, cultural and political environments.

  • The VSM provides a theoretically and methodological robust way to managing complexity.

  • The VSM can be used to design high performing organisations or evaluate weaknesses that impact on organisational sustainability.

  • The VSM presents a generic model of organisation and can be applied ‘system’ including teams, organisations, communities and economies. For example, Foote et al. (2014) used the VSM to help a diverse set of stakeholders design an integrated approach to addressing family violence in New Zealand.

  • We recommend its application for complex public health interventions such as those developed using the He Pikinga Waiora framework.

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