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Rudimentary Application of Beer’s Viable System Model to Shipbuilding (Part 1 of 2)



Link to Presentation: 2018_05_20a Shipbuilding Viable Systems

Admittedly, I undertook the acquisition of Beer’s text and the associated exercise only after attempting miserably a read of Espejo and Harnden’s “The Viable System Model… .” Even after all my training it left me a little dazed and confused. Fortunately this was not the case with Beer’s original work although I started with the practical text and will work up to his works informally known as the “The Brain” and “The Heart” at a later time.

Stafford Beer’s, “Diagnosing the System for Organizations” recommends that the reader conduct exercises throughout the book. The enclosed is the elementary breakdown of the highest levels of a generic shipbuilding entity through progress of the first half of the book. The poignant points of the text in combination with considerations from many years of training are what have been captured, not necessarily a strict extraction of the lessons or theories in the book.

The second half of the book, with the associated exercises, promises to be as interesting as the first as it brings in many elements of controllers and ethos of the leadership, which touch upon on my interests that led to Beer’s work weeks ago.

I must remark on Beer’s writing in that though it uses dated and possibly unfamiliar terminology compared to recent literature, his ability to convey importance and the significance of the ramifications from the points made is exceptional.

If anyone believes they see any particular organization represented, I can assure everyone this is not the case as the essential nature of most shipbuilding organizations can be viewed on the internet with associated presentations of their facilities and workstations. All labels are generic and the enterprise has been simplified to a single entity without attempting to work out the details of a multi-site enterprise, which could be an effort at some future time.

The investigation content here is offered as a framework for dialogue among any and all interested in complex manufacturing industries and especially for those in the world of shipbuilding. I realize it is simplistic, but until now I have found now public domain content from which to address many of the principles and topics identified in this exercise. Please feel free to comment and correspond if you have the inclination.

It is also acknowledged that while Beer’s concepts about transducance were meant for management data and communication within the system, they have been more globally applied to the transformation of any input-output, whether tangible or intangible, as their theoretical applicability appeared to fit.

“Education is a lifelong journey.”

 Sincere regards 

Jon E. Hitchcock, PhD