The VSM Guide

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

Jon Walker

Version 3.1 (2018)

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

Appendix 1: Levels of Recursion
Appendix 2: Variety

The Viable System Model

How to design a healthy business: The use of the Viable System Model in the diagnosis and design of organisational structures in co-operatives and other social economy enterprises

A manual for the diagnosis and design of organisational structures to enable social economy enterprises and function with increased efficiency without compromising democratic principles

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 , who also prepared the diagrams and the bibliography.

Copyright © 1991 by ICOM, CRU, CAG and Jon Walker. Copyright © 1998, 2018 by Jon Walker.

Version 3.1 - Last modified 9th April 2018 to incorporate some long-overdue corrections and updates. A more completely revised version will be released in due course.