Shann Turnbull: [CYBCOM] Feedback on 13 videos and for WOSC 2021 Congress

[Shared not least because this is an interesting overview of the many videos prepared for WOSC 2020:]

Dear Raul

Many thanks for moving my live contribution earlier today/tomorrow.

The objective of this message is to:

1. Provide my feedback on the five video presentations of Theme 1 and the eight video presentations of Theme 2. This will allow all those attending to provide me with second order feedback!

2. Suggest that WOSC invite to the Congress next year: (a) biologists who research the self-regulating and self-governing communication and control architecture within and between animals (includes humans), and (b) Engineers and/or scientists who design self-regulating and self-governing automobiles and self governing space exploring robots.

3. Invite feedback by email and/or during the live discussion from anyone to correct my impression that some of the intellectual giants I cite have been neglected and/or need introduction or re-interpreted by contemporary intellectual leaders.

My motives for my presentation is my belief that System Scientists possess unique insights to guide our political leaders to counter existential risks to our global environment and so avoid existential risks to humanity.

The basis for my belief is set out in another video I made for the ASC “Global Conversation” after making the video posted on the WOSC website. The ASC video abstract follows:

Avoiding extinction requires System Science

To avoid the loss of bio diversity and the risk of humans becoming extinct, world leaders need to be guided by system scientist like they use health experts to reduce the risk of pandemics. System scientists possess unique knowledge in solving highly complex problems like designing self-governing automobiles. However, complex risks require a requisite variety of bottom-up solutions. This means social scientists have an even more urgent task to intellectually re-direct their research focused on top-down solutions to widely distribute the knowledge of system scientist. This will require them to learn how teach their students how to establish what Laureate Ostrom describes as “polycentric republics”. These are illustrated in business case studies undertaken by the author who has also created examples in sporting and civic organisations.
Key words: Global tragedies, Polycentric republics, Self-governance, System scientists, Bottom-up governance.

For readers who have not watched my WOSC video its abstract follows:

Managing the complexity of climate change

The purpose of this talk is to indicate how the knowledge of complex systems can be put into practice to counter climate change. A contribution of the paper is to show how individual behaviour, institutional analysis, political science and management can be grounded and integrated into the complexity of natural systems to introduce mutual sustainability. This is achieved by using bytes as the unit of analysis to explain how nature governs complexity on a more reliable and comprehensive basis than can be achieved by humans using markets and hierarchies. Tax incentives are described to increase revenue while encouraging organisations to adopt elements of ecological governance found in nature and in society by some types of organisations identified by Ostrom and the author. Described is the ability of ecological governance to provide benefits for all stakeholders as desired by CEO’s of the US Business Round table. Ecological corporations become a common good to promote global common goods like enriching democracy from the bottom up while countering: climate change, pollution, and inequalities in power, wealth and income.

Key words: Climate change, Ecological governance, Polycentric republics, Self-governance, Tensegrity

Please note that the abstract also described my paper that was prepared for the WOSC Congress now deferred.

My paper on Managing the complexity of climate change is posted at:

Review of WOSC video presentations for Themes 1 and 2

I have two concerns about the posted video presentations for Themes 1 and 2:

1. The intellectual giants that inspired me seem to have been missed, neglected and/or misinterpreted?

2. The lack of confidence that System Science can solve complex problems when there is abundance evidence described in my video that wicked problems can be solved, even before System Science emerged. Hence my suggestion that WOSC invites those who have such confidence and abilities be invited to the next Congress. This may illustrate the need for social scientists to acquire and apply the knowledge of physical scientists and engineers as suggested in my ASC abstract above?

The intellectual leaders I did not notice being cited were Nobel Laureates Herbert Simon (1978) and Lyn Ostrom (2009). Missing also was the idea of “Holism” articulated by Jan Smuts (1926) and the words “Holon” and Holarchy” coined by Arthur Koestler (1967). Missing also was the word “Tensegrity” coined by Bucky Fuller by combining the words “Tensional Integrity”. Tensegrity is a defining feature of Holons and Holarchies. Stafford Beer was aware of Bucky Fullers work when inventing his Syntegration process but I am not aware of Beer recognising the dual “Yin ~ Yang” characteristics of Tensegrity

One problem is that different writers use different words to describe the same phenomena and this may not be recognised? For example Dee Hock the founding CEO and organisational architect of the credit card company VISA International Inc invented his own words to describe the dual contrary ~ complementary characteristics of his organisation. He described it as “Chaordic” by combining the words “Chaos” and “Order”. Both Herbert Simon in his 1962 essay on “The architecture of complexity” and Dee Hock were describing Holons! Other intellectual giants use other words as documented by my PhD supervisor, John Mathews in “Holonic organisational architecture”, Human Systems Management, 1996 (15): 27-54.

Mathews in turn did not use the word “Tensegrity” but recognised its existence by describing (52-53) the paradoxical characteristics that combine: Centralisation ~ decentralisation,; Bottom-up ~ top-down; Autonomous ~ integrated; Order ~ ambiguity; Servants ~ leaders, etc.

The need to cope with a “The Westphalia paradox” was raised in the videos by German Bula, Clas-Otto Wene and your video response to them on the “Westhalian dilemma”. Command and control hierarchies create the problem of integrating political components of a nation in a way that allows local autonomy in its constituent parts to enrich democracy. The solution is to replace command and control hierarchies with radical different networks of holons that create holarchies. Refer to Mathews (41) as to how to design what holons do, how their tasks are combined and why some undertake some processes and not others. A simplistic explanation is the “Principle of subsidiary” function. This states that no higher level of a system should undertake a function that can be better achieved at a lower level. A process illustrated in the lateral and vertical holarchies of the Mondragon cooperative in Spain. Another example is in designing sofware programs.

I note that German Bula does refer to the concept of “polycentricity”. Bula also notes three ways of managing complexity. The second one being a market “approach being able solve problems better than governments.” However, Ostrom provides evidence that neither market nor hierarchies are required to solve wicked problems. It should be noted that what Ostrom, a political scientist, describes as “polycentric republics” represent holons and/or holarchies.

In Theme 1 I note the video by conference organiser of Vladamir Lepskiy in memory of his colleague Vladimir Lefebvre and the introduction by your-self. In his second video, Lepskiy refers to the “Chaos” in cybernetics and the “crisis in cybernetics”. As I do not understand second and higher order cybernetics I am not otherwise aware of such problems. Even after years of patient coaching face to face and over the Internet by Loet Leydesdorff, I still cannot understand how the work of Luhman relates to solving social problems.

My cybernetics is firmly in what Lepski describes as “Classical”. However, I do not fit the Lepski definition of Classical that he ties to hierarchies in his typology table. Niether Hierarchies or markets were required by pre-modern societies to overcome wicked problems of the Tragedy of the Commons.

I very much identified with the video of Michael Lissack. It reinforced my concerns over language being the tools of thinking and ambiguous language can lead to misunderstandings and incorrect analysis. No economist today can define economic value so why do we accept the social constructs like cost or price to organise society? Is it mass insanity? Or is it dysfunctional suicidal groupthink? Lissack pointed out that “understanding meaning is context depended”, “my simplification is not your “simplification”, “everyone brings a different context” and so how the same words and facts might communicate quite different conclusions.

However, Lissack unfortunately also promotes negative views about system science that I would like to encourage WOSC to counter? Lissack states: “complexity overwhelms us” and that “we keep hoping that AI is a new way to understand complexity”. This negative view of System Science that is only part of his 10minute video is reinforced in the 20 minute video by Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson states: “we understand the incomprehensibility of complex systems” (7:35), “ it like theologians trying to represent god” (8:12) “…we are never likely to get full understandings…”(18:02).

Alennard Leonard continues with some negative views in her video on “the problems of the digital age and its threats to people and systems”. Surprising she identifies one of the limitations of VSM.

The video presented by Ray Ison of his work with Ed Straw nicely complements my own video and positively promotes system thinking with its title. Ison uses System Science to describe how modern governance systems have failed. A story I have been sharing with deaf ears and closed minds of the great and the good for half a century! Ray Ison presents a framework for solving the problem but not a solution. In my view this is because his has made his framework too complicated and/or because he has neglected the work of Ostrom and the other authors cited earlier. However, I like his System Thinking in Practice (STiP) with its holistic duality of systemic and systematic. This means it could accept the duality inherent in Tensegrity.

Boris Slavin makes another positive contribution in his video on “Electric democracy and digital self-organisation”. It is broad conceptual presentation. He recognises the need for both local and bottom-up communications and control systems.

The video by Primiana Di Nauta, Alessandra Larassara and Marcello Martinez on Innovation, change creativity and organisation seems to reworks ideas presented 20 years ago by MIT Professor Eric Von Hippel on innovations arising from users and lead users. It is a puzzle to me how this relates to my limited interest in cybernetics. They use the word “Systems” in way questioned by

Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek and Matjaz Mulej present a video that starts with their experience in a command and control economy of Yugoslavia that paradoxically promoted self-management. This decentralisation led to power being centralised in overworked middle level bureaucracy. The title of their presentation is “Citizenship and democracy”. This circles us back to the Westhalian paradox and/or dilemma. The use and distribution of power becomes relevant at all levels from Global to local. Like Matjaz Mulej I was initially educated as an Electrical Engineer.

An outline that cites details of how such “Westhalian” dilemmas can be resolved are presented in my Global Keynote Webinar presented on July 15 this year to the Global Research Foundation for Corporate Governance. Refer to:

An abstract of my webinar follows:

The case for radical corporate governance reform

Laureate Ostrom identified how pre-modern societies avoided “tragedies of the commons” from self-interests by forming “polycentric republics” to promote common interests. Business examples with civic and sporting examples created by the author. A defining feature of such self-governing polycentric republics is a duality of decentralized competing contrary and/or complementary characteristics described as Tensegrity. This Yin ~ Yang characteristic of Tensegrity is inherent in ecological governance. Tensegrity is described by biologists as the “architecture of life” and quantum physicists as the architecture of the universe. Command and control hierarchies that dominate modern society and governance research inhibit DNA programmed human complementary ~ contrary behavior. Radical governance reform is required to use and amplify human Tensegrity to reliably govern complexity with ecological governance. “A new model of corporate governance” is created to provide benefits to all stakeholders as wanted by US CEOs. This would promote global common goods including countering climate change.

Key words: Climate change, Ecological governance, Polycentric republics, Self-governance, Tensegrity

The transcript of my talk is forthcoming in: Corporate Governance Insights:

Shann Turnbull PhD; Principal: International Institute for Self-governance