Complexity management in practice: A Viable System Model intervention in an Irish eco-community
While soft OR tools offer specific solutions to manage complexity in organisations, little is known concerning soft OR tools to deal with self-organisation in communities. This paper describes an action research project where the authors facilitated a process of self-organisation in a developing Irish eco-community whose members operate in a non-hierarchical, and cooperative fashion. We used the Viable System Model as a hermeneutical enabler of the community learning process concerning their self-organisation: by embedding VSM distinctions, they redesigned their primary tasks and developed meta-systemic management tools to deal with the complexity they were facing. Observations of the dynamics of the self-organising process over a period of 3years show the community designed their roles and tasks more effectively, improved the connectivity of roles, and in general, their viability and sustainability. We reflect on the distinctiveness of the methods used, and their contributions to research in soft OR in community projects.
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