Act to live! Viability in times of uncertainty – metaphorum

Act to live! Viability in times of uncertainty – metaphorum

Act to live! Viability in times of uncertainty 14th Metaphorum Conference11-13 June 2021, Leuven, Belgium

A conference specifically focused around Stafford Beer and the Viable Systems Model and Team Syntegrity.

All problems, whether they are regarded as problems of recognition, or classification, or indeed decision, are problems about uncertainty. 

Stafford Beer

Welcome one and all.

In the last nine months, the COVID19 pandemic has brought dramatic changes to all our lives. In this conference, we will be exploring the many and various ways in which Stafford’s ideas can help to address the exploding uncertainty of emerging social and business landscapes. We will focus on examples of innovative action research developing Beer’s theory and tools and critically reflecting on effective practice. For the first time, we will be introducing participatory design. We will be asking your views on the most interesting talks and giving more time to those which are the most popular. Everyone who registers will be asked to vote in the spring after the abstracts have been selected. Details will follow. 


The 14th Metaphorum conference will take place in De Hoorn Conference Centre in Leuven1, Belgium. Leuven is a 15min train or drive from the Brussels Airport.

Address: Sluisstraat 79, 3000 Leuven.

The pre-conference evening on Friday, 11 June, will be at another location, to be announced soon.


Friday, 11 June

Get-together dinner and pre-conference session.

Saturday, 12 June

Morning: welcome, keynote, two parallel streams, each talk one hour (for the most popular talks), four talks in all.

Afternoon: sessions in format PechaKucha2presentation + discussion. There will be 3 parallel streams, each talk for half an hour, twelve talks in all. 

Sunday, 13 June

Singletrack interactive session. Details will follow.

A detailed program will be published in the spring of 2021.


There are plenty of accommodation options in Leuven. An excellent combination in terms of price, quality, and proximity is Novotel Leuven. Accommodation is also offered at the conference venue, De Hoorn

Call for Contributions

The theme of the conference is:

Act to live! Viability in times of uncertainty

Uncertainty requires action and learning from it.

Uncertainty implies the notion of not knowing. Knowledge in human affairs, surely those involving an uncertain future, only develops when taking the risk of action. The reflective practitioner,  involving herself into the action and the research, embodying cybernetics, the art of governance, is invited to contribute to this Metaphorum conference.

The conference will provide her with a platform to discuss and deepen her research, hence applying to this call does not require a full-fledged paper, only a description of the environment, the aims and the actual status of her research/practice.

Those contributions which exemplify the generative character of the tools that Stafford Beer crafted will be selected for the longer time slots during the Saturday morning. How has the reflective practitioner made these models and concepts her own, to help her to deal with tensions and conflicts in the social systems in which she is actively involved?

As Leuven has been named the European Capital of Innovation 2020, the contributions should exemplify novel ways of using Stafford’s tools. In a world which has changed greatly since Stafford lived and worked, the continuing and future relevance of his work should be stressed.

To submit your proposal, select “Speaker” in your registration form.


Due to the inevitable uncertainty with Covid19 and vaccines, we are asking everyone who intends to attend, to register their interest now without paying the conference fee. Payment will be asked once we have more confidence that everyone can travel and that the conference can go ahead in June. The Fee will be £125. 

If there is a problem and the conference has to be delayed, we will inform everyone as soon as we know, and reschedule the conference, probably at the same venue in Leuven, later in the year.

The £125 covers the venue for all day Saturday and Sunday. We will find another venue for Friday night. Sandwiches are provided on Saturday, but we will all need to buy the other meals and teas and coffees which will be available at the venue.


Act to live! Viability in times of uncertainty – metaphorum