The VSM Guide

An introduction to the
Viable System Model
as a diagnostic & design tool
for co-operatives & federations


Jon Walker

Version 3.0 (2006)


Introduction
Preface
Section 0: Cybernetic Eyes
Section 1: The Quick Guide to the VSM
Section 2: Case Studies
        Hebden Water Milling 1985
        Triangle Wholefoods 1986
        One Mondragon Co-operative 1991
Section 3: Preliminary Diagnosis
Janus interlude
Section 4: Designing Autonomy
Section 5: The Internal Balance
Section 6: Information Systems
Section 7: Balance with the Environment
Section 8: Policy Systems
Section 9: The Whole System
Section 10: Application to Federations

Bibliography
Links
Appendix 1: Levels of Recursion
Appendix 2: Variety

Section 2: CASE STUDIES

This Section contains three case studies which illustrate the application of the VSM to co-operatives of different sizes.

The first involves a small co-op of 5 people, and clarifies the mechanisms whereby a small unstructured group can demonstrate viability.

The second describes a study of a medium size group of 35 people who were experiencing organisational difficulties, the conclusions that were reached using the VSM, and what happened when they were put into practice.

The third involves the (huge) Mondragon co-operatives in an attempt to see if the VSM can throw any light on their astonishing success.

  1. Hebden Water Milling 1985

  2. Triangle Wholefoods 1986

  3. One Mondragon Co-operative 1991