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Peace from Harmony
Leo Semashko. Sociocybernetics of the Third Order for harmonious civilization

The ABC of Harmony as Sociocybernetics of the Third Order


Overview of the ABC of Harmony by Dr. Leo Semashko


Sociocybernetics, as a science of society in the cybernetic perspective, comes, in connection with the publication of a collective (76 coauthors from 26 countries) book of the Global Harmony Association (GHA) "The ABC of Harmony", to the next level, which can be defined as "Sociocybernetics of the Third Order" or "Sociocybernetics-3". But first are a few words about the book.

The ABC of Harmony for World Peace, Harmonious Civilization and Tetranet Thinking, Global Textbook (first published in English in India, New Delhi, Doosra Mat Prakashan, 2012, 334 pages, ISBN 978-81-923108-6-2), shortly: The ABC of Harmony, was prepared within GHA in 2011 and published in early February 2012 in Russian in St. Petersburg and in English in New Delhi, India. The book is submitted also in the two electronic formats: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=478 HTML and

http://www.peacefromharmony.org/file/6079/ABC_of_Harmony_eng.pdf - PDF.

The authors 27 reviews are at: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=489

The book may be ordered at: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=508.

The ABC of Harmony Contents:

Preface. Introduction

I.The ABC of Harmony

II.Applications and Prerequisites. 2.1. Applications. 2.1.1. For World Peace from Harmony, etc.

III.Harmony Stars

IV.Harmony Poetry

V.The Authors. The ABC of Harmony Meaning




IX.Harmony Painting

Among its 76 co-authors are prominent scientists, peacemakers, artists and politicians: former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam; architect of Ronald Reagans economic reform, Dr. Norman Kurland; head of the international organization of doctors (IPPNW), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, Prof. Ernesto Kahan; Chancellor of the Pedagogical IASE Deemed Gandhi University, Kanak Mal Dugar; Catholic Professor and the UN agent, Dr. François Houtart; President of World Esperanto Association, Prof. Renato Corsetti; President of International Association of Educators for World Peace, Prof. Charles Mercieca; President of International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace, Prof. Ada Aharoni; Secretary General of "World Constitution and Parliament" Association, Prof. Glen Martin; prominent Russian Professors: Vladimir Bransky, Gregory Tulchinsky, Alexander Subetto, Dimitry Ivashintsov and many others. Five co-authors have the GHA highest honorary title: World Harmony Creator as explained at http://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=513. Among its co-authors are also three members of the RC51: Dr. Maitreyee Bardhan Roy of India, Dr. Mary Luz Robayo of Colombia, and Dr. Leo Semashko of Russia, the ABC of Harmony Editor in Chief.

The ABC of Harmony is the first book of this kind in the world history and the first global textbook o­n social harmony for the all nations, governments, presidents and the United Nations. The presentation of this book at the International Seminar of Teachers in New Delhi o­n February 11, 2012, marked the beginning of a new era of humanity: the Age of Harmonious Enlightenment and Education, which aims to overcome the total ignorance of the past history in regard to social harmony (www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=511).

The ABC of Harmony, o­n the dignity, was defined as "the fundamental revolution in science and paradigm shift in human consciousness," by the outstanding American philosopher and co-author of the ABC and World Constitution, Prof. Martin: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=489. Therefore, The ABC of Harmony opens before all spectrum of social sciences the perspective of qualitative paradigm shift to a new theoretical level of their development. Such its meaning is well-unfolded by the example of Sociocybernetics.

The theoretical basis of the ABC of Harmony is Tetrasociology as a science of social and individual harmony, global harmony and harmonious civilization. The close idea ties of Tetrasociology with Sociocybernetics are disclosed in the joint work of Bernd Hornung, Bernard Scott, and Leo Semashko [1]. Bernard Scott is deeply revealed the contents of two main stages of Sociocybernetics: the first and second orders [2, and etc.].

The ABC of Harmony systematizes the 20 fundamental elements/spheres of the deep structure of social harmony from Tetrasociology in five necessary, sufficient, coherent, and tetra-dimensional clusters:

1. RESOURCES: People, Information, Organization, Things (PIOT),

2. PROCESSES: Production, Distribution, Exchange, Consumption (PDEC),

3. STRUCTURES/SPHERES: Socio, Info, Org, Techno (SIOT),

4. CLASSES: Socio, Info, Org, Techno (SIOT-classes)

5. INDIVIDUAL: Character, Consciousness, Will, Body (CCWB).

The ABC of Harmony unites and combines them in the form of the world's first social genome of society: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=486. Social genome or SOCIONOME presents a society at all it levels - global, regional, national and local - as a o­ne harmonious self-organizing sociocybernetic system of 20 fundamental societal spheres. Such an understanding of the integrity of society in Sociocybernetics was represented the first time. However, it can arise o­nly as the development and integration of the Sociocybernetics fundamental ideas of its first two orders. These are the ideas of ​​Wiener (1948, 1954), von Bertalanffy (1950, 1972), Ashby (1956), Beer (1972), Pask (1975, 1979), and especially the ideas of ​​self-organization and autopoietic at the macro-level (Maturana and Varela, 1980) and Luhmann (1989, 1995), as well as similar ideas at the micro-level of social psychology and learning of Bernard Scott (2001, 2002, etc.): http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=64.

SOCIONOME it is a macro-level of sociology and Sociocybernetics. Besides it, The ABC of Harmony creates a holistic theoretical image of society o­n the human level as its the micro-level - PSYNOME, which is also as the micro-level for sociology and Sociocybernetics: (ibidem). Both of these levels are the fractally similar, expressing a deep structural and harmonious similarity of society in its extreme levels of micro- and macro- world.

The ABC of Harmony and its SOCIONOME and PSYNOME, covering the holistic society at the macro and micro levels, raise Sociocybernetics o­n the level of its third order knowledge. This new sociological and sociocybernetic paradigm is as the subject for new fundamental research in them future development. The ABC of Harmony - this is the beginning of Sociocybernetics of the third order in which the global society at all levels seems as a o­ne perfectly and harmoniously self-organizing cybernetic machine of the 20 societal spheres. The ABC of Harmony enters into this cybernetic machine the harmonious social knowledge, thinking and consciousness of all its elements, processes and relationships. This harmonious consciousness and thinking transforms it from a spontaneous, violent and intuitive machine into self-conscious and rational, nonviolent system as the true human system. It self organizes now not violently, as in the past history, and consciously and non-violently in harmony with the ABC appearance, opening the global harmonious education in this ABC. It defines Sociocybernetics-3.



[1]. Tetrasociology and sociocybernetics: towards a comparison of the key concepts, by Bernd Hornung, Germany; Bernard Scott, UK; Leo Semashko, Russia in a book (2003): TETRASOCIOLOGY: FROM A SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION THROUGH DIALOG TO UNIVERSAL VALUES AND HARMONY, presented in English, Russian, and Esperanto:


[2]. Bernard Scott. Facilitating Organizational Change: Some Sociocybernetic Concepts And Principles, Maribor, July, 2005: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=64


Dr. Leo Semashko,

GHA President,

The ABC of Harmony Editor in Chief,

Member, RC51 Sociocybernetics, International Sociological Association



In Russian: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=ru_c&key=64

In English: http://www.peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=64




Leo Semashko


The 6th International Conference of Sociocybernetics
Maribor, Slovenia, 6-10 July 2005


Tetrasociology is a four-dimensional, holistic and interdisciplinary theory of an information (global) society of four equally productive sphere classes - partners, self-organized as a cybernetic system, aspiring to become a natural order of social harmony.

On the basis of the four social reproductive spheres, tetrasociology predicts six Sociocybernetic innovations for an information society.
1. Sphere classes of the population employed in the appropriate spheres of social reproduction: Socioclass, Infoclass, Orgclass, Technoclass, which self-identification transforms them in the conscious actors of social harmony,
2. Sphere democracy constructed o­n equal distribution of power between the sphere classes, generations, genders that makes such democracy by a state of social harmony,
3. Sphere sociological statistics that allow quantitative measurement of social harmony,
4. Sphere information-statistical technology for calculation of social harmony,
5. Sphere sociocultural technology of achievement and maintenance of social harmony,
6. Sphere strategic management ensuring governance by social harmony of spheres and sphere classes.   

These innovations can help to create a self-organizing order of social harmony, and a new culture of harmonious peace beyond wars, terrorism, poverty etc. Such order arises when a priority is placed not o­n money and property but o­n the interests of children and their caregivers. These groups, which comprise from 50% to 80% of the population, will provide the social foundation for a natural order of harmony and peace.

Keywords: tetrasociology, social harmony, sphere classes, children's suffrage, harmonious peace


I began developing a "System-Sphere approach" to the study and practice of sociology in 1975. In 1998, this approach was given the name: Tetrasociology, to emphasize that four distinctive, strategic spheres work together to create and sustain society. Since the collapse of the USSR in 1989 I have published more than 80 works, including seven books, of which the last three have been translated into English. The first of these, Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges (2002), was submitted to the ISA 15th World Sociological Congress in Australia, July, 2002.

The basic contents of a tetrasociology

Tetrasociology is a variant of post-pluralistic systems theory. It represents society as a system of naturally occurring spheres of societal reproduction, in four dimensions of social space-time. ('Tetra' is taken from the Greek word for four.) Post-pluralism, in my definition, recognizes a key number of societal dimensions/spheres, e.g.,: three - economic, political, labor or cultural (A.Giddens, 1990; L.Sklar, 1991; R.Robertson, 1992), or four - political, economic, cultural, ecology or religion or social (U.Beck, 1998; DeWitt, 2000; G. Ternborn, 2002; Semashko, 2002), or five 'spheres of the social landscape' - etno, tecno, finance, media, ideo (A.Appadurai, 1996). "Sphere" has been used by Comte, Marx, and other sociologists to designate large sectors of society. But in tetrasociology, "sphere" is used to distinguish (A) subject and product/capital of (sphere) reproduction, and (B) reproductive employment of people within each sphere.

(A) The four spheres of societal reproduction are the social, informational (cultural), organizational (political) and technical (economic). The resource/capital, reproduced within each sphere is for society as a whole, for the benefit of all of its spheres. Consequently, the spheres work together to achieve social harmony. The social sphere reproduces the resource/capital PEOPLE, the informational sphere reproduces the resource/capital INFORMATION, the organizational sphere reproduces the resource/capital of ORGANIZATIONS (political, legal, financial capital), and the technical sphere reproduces the resource/capital of THINGS (material). Each sphere includes a great number of (at times conflicting) branches and (at times competing) enterprises. And each has a large number of resource inputs and product outputs, through which they exchange the capitals that reproduce society as a self-organizing cybernetic system. The reproductive employment of people in these spheres is essential to the process of reproduction in all spheres, and unites them in o­ne self-reproductive system. The concept of reproductive employment of people covers life from birth to death, and includes all forms of social action, interaction, activity, labor, behavior, etc. This reproductive concept is fundamental in tetrasociology. Four dimensions of social space - time are identified: resource/capital (social statics), processes of reproduction (social dynamics), structures-spheres of reproduction (social structuratics) and social time: the various states of society from growth through decline (social genetics).

(B) The basic reproductive employment of the population is divided into four productive sphere classes:
1. SOCIOCLASS: employed in the sociosphere (including workers in education, healthcare, welfare, sports and entertainment, and also non-working population: pre-schoolers, students, unemployed, retired, etc).
2. INFOCLASS: employed in the infosphere (including workers in science, culture, communication, and information services).
3. ORGCLASS: employed in the orgsphere (workers in management, politics, law, finance, defense, police, security, etc).
4. TECHNOCLASS: employed in the technosphere (workers in industry and agriculture). Classes of reproductive employment are more fundamental than class distinctions based o­n property. Property ownership is temporary, partial, and inherently unequal, whereas reproductive employment is constant, universal, and equally inherent in all human activity, although qualitatively different.
Tetrasociology is an attempt to synthesize and modernize a long tradition of theories of societal reproduction: from Comte, Marx, Weber, Parsons, Buckley, Toffler, Bourdieu, Lumann, Habermas, Castells, and more. It continues in this tradition, but brings in new concepts such as: the reproductive employment of people, social harmony/disharmony, and four dimensional social space-time. A central premise of tetrasociology is that sustainable development and maintenance of society (homeostasis) is provided by a natural law of social harmony (balance) achieved among the four spheres of social reproduction. This harmony is constantly challenged by deviations (conflicts) within the spheres, among various branches, social classes and groups, enterprises and regions.
The strength and number of deviations (conflicts) create a measure of disharmony. When this exceeds a critical measure, the society either perishes or the law of spheres harmony is subordinated to branch and other forms of disharmony, for a time, until sphere harmony can be restored, or until the society eventually disintegrates. Harmony among spheres and sphere classes (of people reproductively employed in each sphere) exists in two forms: spontaneous and conscious. Spontaneous harmony is the natural, historical basis for human survival, for preservation of societal stability. Conscious harmony is expected by Semashko to begin with the self-identification of sphere classes in the coming age of an information (post-industrial) society. Thus, tetrasociology identifies social harmony as both the basis for society and as its ultimate goal of achievement, toward which it will aspire constantly but with varying degrees of success.
The idea of social harmony is prominent in eastern religions, such as Confucianism and Buddhism, and in the belief systems of Native Americans. Although it is not alien to western thinking, as formulated in the schools of Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, and also during the Renaissance, it was not a priority for the rapidly developing industrial societies of Europe and America. The idea of spheres of societal reproduction, however, has found expression in western culture and pluralistic thinking. Tetrasociology is an attempt at synthesis: of the western structural concept of spheres of reproduction and the eastern value concept of harmony. The concept of harmony of reproductive spheres of society is the central focus and core premise of tetrasociology.

In tetrasociology develops six logical 'discoveries' (predictions) from this synthesis:
1. Self-identification of sphere classes of the population will transform them into conscious actors, striving for harmonious cooperation among spheres,
2. Sphere democracy will be based o­n an equal distribution of power among sphere classes, and also among generations and between genders, transforming democracy into an instrument of social harmony,
3. Sphere statistics will provide a quantitative measure of representation prerequisites to enhance sphere generated social harmony,
4. Sphere information-statistical technology will be developed to calculate potentials for increasing social harmony,
5. Sphere sociocultural technology will be able to measure achievement and maintenance of social harmony,
6. Sphere strategic management techniques will be developed to ensure harmonious governance of spheres and sphere classes, at all levels of political, economic and financial regulation.

The logics (premises) of other sociological theories do not generate such grand predictions, so they are unique to tetrasociology, prompting some western sociologists to refer to tetrasociology as a "nugget of gold," "brilliant," having "admirable scope and ambition." (Semashko, 2002: 148, 150). However, without sufficient empirical testing, they remain hypotheses. The author recognizes this insufficiency, which is due to a lack of funding opportunities in Russia for such research. He hopes that western universities and research centers will be more attentive, and will invite him for a period of o­ne to three years, to conduct the necessary research.

This is a brief sketch of tetrasociological theory, its novelty and problems. (Semashko, 2002: 19-99). The author also lists 75 examples of practical applications of tetrasociology and its technologies (2002: 138-140). He seeks to apply tetrasociology to current problems, in search of adequate responses to aggravated challenges of the 21st century: terrorism, religious and ethnic wars, nuclear proliferation, poverty, ecological degradation, demographic dislocation and crises of democracy. He suggests socio-cultural projects in various problem areas: family, gender, education, religious belief systems, international bilingualism, innovative statistics and information technology, anti-terror strategies, ecological preservation, peace in Jerusalem, etc. He recognizes that many of his proposals seem utopian for our time, but anticipates that in the future they will be seen as practical and realistic.

The practical projects of tetrasociology

In a more recent book (2004) I develop a practical consequence of tetrasociology. This project and my book (2003) are directed toward creation of a new culture of peace, in an Information Age, as a global order of social harmony emerges to prevent wars and discourage terrorism. This order will gradually supersede the orders of branch (conflict oriented) disharmony of industrial societies, which have increasingly reproduced wars and terror. In this way, tetrasociology, as sociology for post-industrial (information) societies, is qualitatively different from the sociologies of industrial societies, and encourages the creation of harmony-enhancing, global institutes.

In second book o­n tetrasociology (2003), I propose o­ne such institute: international bilingualism, recognizing Esperanto together with English as languages of the international community. This book is written with 14 contributors, from four continents, in three languages: Russian, English, and Esperanto. It includes ten dialogs with tetrasociology by sociologists from the USA, Japan, Australia, Germany, England and Russia. These dialogs consider various aspects of tetrasociological theory, and represent a multicultural dialog of civilizations. An International Publishing Project is proposed as a way to continue this dialog among civilizations toward a culture of peace. The project would recognize Esperanto as a second international language, to encourage development of an unbiased dialog among civilizations.

Esperanto has the necessary preconditions: it is a planned, neutral language, with 115 years of international practice, and millions of esperantists world-wide, organized in associations that are already practicing a global subculture of brotherhood and peace. I believes that, most of all, it is the distinction of languages that separates people and provides the political rationales for wars, terror and violence. But, there is no current political strategy to promote an international language, so elements of linguistic inequality and discrimination are sustained. He believes this inherent injustice contributes to social, economic, political and cultural conflicts and global disasters. I propose international bilingualism, sponsored by the UN, as a linguistic strategy to reinforce the UN's general purpose for this decade: a dialog among civilizations to create a culture of peace.

Another project in this book is selection of "Faculty of social harmony; Humanitarian education for dialog and peace." I sum up the goal of this project in these words: "The young should be taught harmony and dialog, not war!" I contend that the degree of militarization of education greatly exceeds the degree of its humanitarianism, which calls attention to extensive preparation of the young for war and violence rather than for constructive dialog and a culture of peace. I suggest a faculty of social harmony in which four educational disciplines are created, corresponding to his four spheres of society, to teach the ways in which the spheres interact to achieve harmony. I offer to help create these faculties, to teach experts in the four disciplines and to teach basic courses for all students (2003: 250-252). This unique educational program, introduced at all grade levels, would have far-reaching consequences, not o­nly for individuals in their day to day social relations, but for society at every level of social organization.

The ten dialogs with tetrasociology, by 14 sociologists from six countries, are beyond the scope of this paper, but represent a wealth of ideas that expand o­n the many insights derived from tetrasociology.

My third book (2004) is devoted to an urgent need for children's suffrage executed by their parents. A resolution of the UN Special Session o­n Children (May, 2002), initiated by UNICEF and attended by 180 States, called upon "all members of society" to join in a "global movement that will help build a world fit for children." Children's suffrage, executed by parents, is considered in the book as an effective political institution for such a global movement, to promote a new political psychology and culture of peace, to modernize democracy, and as a powerful antiterrorist strategy to eradicate the origins of terrorism in childhood and create an antiterrorist immunity of the population. Children's suffrage underscores the civil responsibility of the family and the political responsibility of the state for children. The brutal terrorist act against more than o­ne thousand children in Beslan, Russia, September 1-3, 2004, of which 170 were killed, emphasizes the urgent need for such an institution. If children's suffrage replaces the state's priorities o­n military and economic spending with priorities o­n children and their reproduction of the social sphere, this will effectively promote a culture of peace. Children's suffrage executed by parents is examined as a child's inherent right in a democracy, and o­ne that is needed to respond to the UN Convention o­n the Rights of the child, which response has been unsatisfactory to date, according to UNICEF.

Children's suffrage executed by parents has a potentially powerful social base. First, children under 18 make up approximately 20-35 % of the population in any given country. Second, parents and legal guardians make up approximately 30-40 % of the population in each country. Third, grandmothers and grandfather make up about the same proportion of the population. Therefore, children's suffrage affects the interests of most of each country's population. Since children and their parents, alone, make up 50-80 % of the population, they would presumably control at least 50% of the votes. The mothers and grandmothers are the o­nes most likely to vote o­n behalf of minor children, hence, children's suffrage will (also) promote women's interests, which tend to favor harmony and peace. (One can think of notable exceptions to these generalizations, but social expectations are based o­n probabilities rather than certainties.)

The concept of children's suffrage supplements practical suggestions for its institution. First, we propose an international comparative research study to determine the likelihood of parent's acceptance of children's suffrage. Second, we propose a project to determine an appropriate law for Russia. For the research study, we state its purposes, hypotheses, and the number of respondents to be selected from each of four countries: two poor countries and two rich. In each country, o­ne large city is to be selected, in which 1000 parents and guardians are asked to respond to a set of structured questions about children's suffrage, to determine the extent of parent's favorable/unfavorable attitudes. Hypotheses are based o­n an assumption of support or nonsupport of children's suffrage o­n the basis of parent's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the well-being and quality of education of children in their country. For proposal of a Russian law: "Children's Suffrage Executed by Parents in Russia," 24 legal concepts are defined to express this right and to limit children's votes to o­ne child per parent, with voluntary division of children's votes between the parents, with conditions for granting independent voting to minor children by way of exception, and with sanctions of encouragement and restriction, for parents and guardians, under the law.

The world shudders at the incessant reports of disaster and violence against children, but there is little that protects them.

In Uganda a civil war lasting nineteen years has traumatized more than 40 thousand children but nobody can protect these children. Who is protecting these children? In Russia the past year approximately 50 children from two schools were burnt and 175 children were killed the terrorists at Beslan school but nobody was able to protected them. This year in Krasnoyarsk 5 children were burnt but nobody has protected them. In the USA a mother drove her adopted son to his death but nobody has protected him. In some Muslim countries many hundreds children turn to the alive suicide bombers but nobody has protect them from death.

Each year we see similar statistics grows, child abuse and murder is measured in the tens of thousands. If you add the facts of hunger, poverty, criminality, narcomania, and discrimination against children, from which nobody protects them, they will be measured in tens and even hundreds millions. o­n the basis of this infinite number of unprotected children  the UN Special Session o­n Children (May 2002), initiated by UNICEF, was compelled to recognize that the world community leaves children in "poverty, discrimination and neglect". The good UN Convention o­n the Rights of the Child (1989) has generally not been executed suggests UNICEF. The richest country in the world, the USA, has fallen to the level of the poorest, Somalia, in its sixteen year refusal to ratify this Convention, setting a poor example of a scornful attitude towards children for all the world.

We do not pity to throw out billions o­n the weapon and infinite wars, to give back them to the oligarchs for their socially senseless and corrupting enrichment, but we save each cent for millions of hungry, homeless and deserted children, which are deprived the good schools, teachers, medicine, sport, leisure, decent meal, friendly cities etc. Childhood becomes sick, despised and hated for children. Everything that we now do now for so-called "protection" of children more similar o­n hypocritical complacence of power, the rich and adults but o­nly not o­n real, adequate to need, protection of children from all their social threats, troubles and disasters. THE HONEST AND FAIR PROTECTION FOR ALL CHILDREN IS NOT PRESENT ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TODAY.

The honest and constant protection of children, what they really require, will begin o­nly when CHILDREN BECOME A PRIORITY in society. Dmitry Mendeleyev, Janusz Korczak, Mahatma Gandhi, Elmar Sokolov, Nobel Peace Laureates, Cardinal Gustaaf Joss and some scientists called for this. But nobody knows HOW to ensure a priority to children? It can be ensured o­nly with a universal LAW "About Children's Suffrage Executed by Parents and Guardians". 

This law creates a priority for children. It pawns a corner stone in a basis for the order of social harmony, ensuring harmonious peace and preventing the main disasters of children: war, terrorism and poverty. It is discussed o­n sole in the world website "A New Culture of Peace from Harmony" (www.peacefromharmony.spb.ru). Please look the website contents pages 2-4 (http://www.peacefromharmony.spb.ru/docs/2-4_eng.pdf), o­n which the project of the specified law is submitted.

It is a Multicultural, Multilingual and Pluralistic Website in four languages: Russian, English, Esperanto and Portuguese, to which six languages will be added in the future. More than 80 authors from 17 countries of the world have published o­n it more than 300 peace-building materials (documents, books, articles, verses, children pictures, photos etc.) for the interests and priority of children. We understand necessity of more effective practical actions in protection of children than a semi-official ritual of June 1. Children are in all countries, they are very important for each society, they require protection all over the world and they need to create a priority in all corners of the Earth. Therefore:


It will unit the best and most part of parents, grandmothers and grandfathers, teachers and doctors, all caregivers, which with children make from 50 up to 80 % of the population in the different countries of the world. Our website, as a house of goodwill, will be first, but not by last, information resource for this humanitarian movement. There will be goodwill; there will be also other resources for it.

Children's suffrage executed by parents was the subject of my presentations at the IIS World Sociological Congress in Beijing, People's Republic of China, July, 2004 and at the International Conference "Childhoods 2005" in University of  Oslo, Norway, July 2005.

International bilingualism and children's suffrage are regarded as important and necessary for a new culture of peace, but each requires extensive public discussion and research. The research requires significant funding, which is not available in Russia.

We offer tetrasociology and its derivative proposals as a way to initiate a new culture of peace, rooted from a natural (cybernetic), evolving order of social harmony. These ideas may seem utopian, and difficult to prove, but they are filled with faith in the practical applicability of sociology, and with optimism in the face of the increasingly difficult challenges of the 21st century. This style is unfamiliar to western sociologists; it bears the imprint of pre-Cold War Russian civilization, and features its intense, searching-for-answers mentality. Thus, my books and proposals may seem "old-fashioned" and "conservative," but at the same time, forward-looking and urgent. They invite western sociologists to examine them for new ideas and new strategies, while challenging our confrontational, conflict-oriented ideas about the natural order of things. Their positive contribution is to focus our attention o­n sectors/spheres of society that work together to reproduce each other, as well as themselves, and thereby provide a deep cybernetic structure of social harmony (latent, at the global level) upon which to build a culture of peace. The further development of tetrasociological theory, therefore, is in the interest of western civilization in its dialogs with other civilizations.

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June 6, 2005


Note from the editor: The study of Sociocybernetics in general, in the tetrasociological paradigm in particular, contributes to harmonious peace through an understanding of societal processes of self-organization of the spheres and spheres classes, and also through self-reproduction of their social harmony as homeostasis that can give rise to a new culture of peace that will prevent wars, terror and poverty.

Leo Semashko

Tetrasociology: Six System Sociocybernetic Innovations for an Information Society

The 6th International Conference of Sociocybernetics
Maribor, Slovenia, 6-10 July 2005


Tetrasociology is a four-dimensional, holistic and interdisciplinary theory of an information (global) society of sphere classes, self-organized as a cybernetic system of four spheres of social reproduction, aspiring to become a natural order of social harmony and harmonious peace. Tetrasociology is a system theory of feedback, communication, and reflexivity of these four sphere classes. Every reproductive sphere represents an "intersocietal system" (Giddens, 1984), "crossing any dividing line." The four reproductive spheres, as intersocietal systems, establish the dynamic integrity of a society. For both the individual and society, tetrasociology combines the western structural idea of reproductive spheres with the oriental value idea of harmony. The idea of a natural order of harmonious spheres of human society, impossible to imagine in the competitive, conflict oriented culture of industrial societies, forms the theoretical nucleus of tetrasociology as a theory of cultural synthesis, in the coming age of an information society.

This theory was developed in Russia beginning in 1975, and has been in print since 1990, after the USSR collapsed. It is presented in approximately 80 publications, including seven books, three of which are available in English. First and foremost is the book: Tetrasociology: Responses to Challenges. Polytechnic University, St-Petersburg, 2002.

The four spheres of social reproduction in tetrasociology are the social, informational (cultural), organizational (political) and technical (economic). Abbreviated, they are: the sociosphere, infosphere, orgsphere and technosphere. They differ in the kind of resource/capital that each reproduces for society as a whole. The sociosphere reproduces the resource/capital PEOPLE, the infosphere reproduces the resource/capital INFORMATION, the orgsphere reproduces the resource/capital ORGANIZATION (political, legal, financial), and the technosphere reproduces the resource/capital THINGS (material). Each sphere includes a great number of appropriate enterprises and branches. Each sphere has a great number of resource inputs provided by other spheres, and product outputs supplied to other spheres, making the society a self-organizing and self-regulating cybernetic system. These spheres are equally necessary and sufficient for any society; therefore they aspire not to dominate and destroy each other but to achieve harmony through proportionality and balance.

On the basis of this striving for harmony among the four reproductive spheres of a society, tetrasociology predicts six Sociocybernetic innovations for an information society.

Sphere classes are its first and most important innovation. o­n basic reproductive employment, the population is divided into four productive sphere classes: 1. SOCIOCLASS: employed in the sociosphere (workers in healthcare, education, social services, entertainment, and all non-working population, but employed in social reproduction itself: pre-schoolers, students, unemployed, pensioners, etc.). 2. INFOCLASS: employed in the infosphere (workers in science, arts, communication, information services, etc.). 3. ORGCLASS: employed in the orgsphere (workers in government, management, law, finance, defence, security, etc.). 4. TECHNOCLASS: employed in the technosphere (industrial workers and farmers). The allocation of classes by reproductive employment is more fundamental than by ownership of property: ownership is temporary, partial and unequal, whereas reproductive employment is constant, universal and inherent in all people, although qualitatively different. Therefore, sphere classes essentially differ from antagonistic industrial and pre-industrial social classes. Sphere classes, as well as their spheres of reproduction, are equally necessary for society and strive to achieve social harmony, avoiding antagonisms among them. They are inherent to all societies throughout history, but o­nly in an information society they will find self-identification and transformation in conscious actors of social harmony, to become main subjects of later history.

To illustrate the changing dynamic of sphere classes in an example from Russia for 1991, 1996 and 2000, with numbers in millions: Socioclass: 81.6; 89.1; 89.8. Infoclass: 4.8; 3.6; 4.3. Orgclass: 4.0; 4.6; 5.3. Technoclass: 58.1; 49.8; 45.4. The Russian population as the sum of the sphere classes for these years: 148.5; 147.1; and 144.8 million.

Sphere democracy is the second tetrasociological innovation. Sphere democracy, created within an information society, can achieve a state of social harmony and harmonious peace. Sphere democracy develops from earlier forms of democracy, but with three differences. The first difference is an equal distribution of state power among sphere classes, and also between genders and generations. An equal distribution of power based o­n sphere classes is unknown to traditional democracies. The second difference of sphere democracy consists of an essentially new understanding of people as the source of democratic power. People are understood as belonging to four different but equally necessary sphere classes, covering all of the population, including children. Traditional forms of democracy exclude direct representation of the interests of children as a political force, but sphere democracy takes these interests into account by instituting childrens suffrage, executed by parents. o­nly when this occurs can democracy really be fair. The third difference, following from the first two, based o­n the harmony of sphere classes, means that, for the first time in history, social harmony becomes the top value and priority of social development, to ensure an appropriate emphasis o­n harmony and harmonious peace. Traditional democracies did not aspire to such purpose and emphasis. Sphere democracy strives for a qualitatively higher level of civil society and Low-Based state.

The third tetrasociological innovation is the collection of sphere statistics that allow quantitative measurement of social harmony. This measurement is constructed o­n a system of sphere indices that express the sphere components of society. Sphere indices are aggregates of traditional (branchs) indices, but differ from them qualitatively.

The fourth tetrasociological innovation is a sphere informational-statistical technology for calculation of social harmony and deviations from it. This technology is constructed o­n an information base of sphere indices and statistics.

The fifth tetrasociological innovation is a sphere sociocultural technology of achievement and maintenance of social harmony among sphere classes. This technology takes many different forms, among them: international bilingualism, a multicultural dialogue of civilizations, and childrens suffrage executed by parents, etc.

The sixth tetrasociology innovation is sphere strategic management, ensuring governance by social harmony of spheres and sphere classes at all levels of social regulation, by means that are inaccessible to industrial management.

These innovations of a global, informational society can help to create a self-organizing order of social harmony, and a new culture of harmonious peace, which, together, would strive to prevent wars, terrorism, poverty and other global challenges: including ecological crises and demographic disasters. Such an order arises when a priority is placed not o­n money and property but o­n the interests of children, expressed by all those who are responsible for their care: parents, teachers, healthcare workers, etc. These population groups, which comprise from 50% to 80% of the population in various countries, have the basic motivation to be peace loving and harmonious; therefore, they will provide the social foundation for a natural order of harmony and peace. The logic of any other sociological theory does not lead to similar innovations.

However, the evidence for these six Sociocybernetic innovations will require extensive, interdisciplinary research, within the context of a global, information society, employing the tetrasociological paradigm. Until then, they remain interesting hypotheses leading to innovative possibilities for a more harmonious and peaceful world.

March 10, 2005



Matjaž Mulej


Systems theory:

methodology of humans thinking, decisions and action (1;2)


Abstract: Many observers find that humankind is in crisis due to lack of holism and due to too much reductionism in human thinking, insight, decision-making, and action caused by increasingly narrow specialization per professions and disciplines. Systems theory surfaced good five decades ago to fight this problem. But it keeps losing its battle, including in its own arena. Specialization is unavoidable, but it is frequently not enough. Good three decades of experience of this contributions author have demonstrated that his concept of the dialectical system and law of requisite holism/realism can offer a response and a way toward holism/realism as an overarching worldview, which is capable of providing room for many systems theories and specialized/traditional theories to work together, because they are interdependent, i.e. needing each other.


Key words: Bertalanffy; creative co-operation, dialectical system; requisite holism; requisite realism; systems theory; worldview




Thinking is the most important human activity, and its holism and realism is its crucial attribute, which is lacking in education (Rosi et al., 2006). It requires humans' attention, because they do not develop it automatically. If a new theory, including the o­nes about thinking, is established or dealt with, it matters: (1) what is its insight aimed at, and (2) what is it aimed against. This is true of systems theory, as well, and again after +50 years of its official existence and close to 70 years since Bertalanffy has first mentioned it. Papers to conferences etc., even the o­nes o­n systems and cybernetics, show that many leave aside Bertalanffys (1979, p. VII ff.) intention: systems theory is a worldview of holism and attacks over-specialization; it is not o­ne of many specialized disciplines of science; its methodologies and methods are supposed to support holism. But what do humans understand as holism? The overview of origins and development of systems thinking (Hammond, 2003) as well as of many currently existing systems theories (François, ed. 2004) shows that even most authors inside systems theory and cybernetics do not tend to define holism explicitly or in a unified way meeting its definition in vocabulary: holism is attained, if all (!) attributes of the topic at stake are considered (Slovar, electronic; Webster, 1978). What are the wholes boundaries considered or to be considered?


The problem results from the growth of the unavoidable contemporary narrow specialization o­n o­ne hand, and from the equally unavoidable capacity to make the least possible amount/impact of crucial oversights caused by reduction and reductionism applied by specialists unavoidably (Ackoff, Rovin, 2003; Bailey, 2005; Eriksson, 2003; Hofkirchner, Elohim, eds, 2001; Gregory, 2006; Jackson, 2003; Korn, 2003; Mulej, 1974; Mulej, Potočan, 2004; Mueller-Merbach, 1992; Pivka, Mulej, 2004; Troncale, 2002; Warfield, 2003; Wilby, 2005; Wilby, Allen, eds, 2005; etc.). Thus, holism should be added to Baileys (2005) list of the goals of the founders and contemporary challenges to the systems approach more clearly and explicitly, rather than indirectly (e.g. in his first challenge), in order to make systems theory help humanity at large to find a way out of the current blind alley. Einstein observes well: The main characteristics of our time seem to be perfection of methods and confusion of intentions (Thorpe, 2003: 35). Therefore, more seems to be ruined than created under the current un-holistic model of economy and living, making business/management innovation even more necessary than the technological o­ne (IBM, 2006; McGregor, 2006; Udovičič, 2004; Ženko, 1999). My suggestion is old: a dialectical system (Mulej, 1974, and later) should replace the o­ne-viewpoint-based system; thus the law of requisite holism (Mulej, Kajzer, 1998; Rebernik, Mulej, 2000; see: Hindle, 2004) could be met as well as humans social responsibility (Knez Riedl, Mulej, Dyck, 2006) and completed up to the law of requisite holism/realism of thinking, insight, decision making, and action. The essence of the law of requisite holism/realism is well expressed by Wilby (2005: 388), although she leaves open the question of viewpoints selected and thereby determining the boundaries of study: The goal of holistic study is not to look at everything. Instead it is to make a decision about what is relevant to the study and what is not and to know and understand why those choices were made. The biases and interests affect the choice of what is likely to be included and excluded (i.e. what is in the system as opposed to what is relegated in the environment of the system). o­n this basis, the requisite holism/realism of insight, thinking, decision-making, and action might be easier to attain, helping humans be better off. Why is this difficult?




The current growing/immense quantity of humankind's knowledge causes unavoidable narrow specialization of individuals to o­ne of many thousand professions of the modern times. Each and every profession and/or scientific discipline meets some humankinds needs. Otherwise market eliminates it. But this quantitys side effect is fragmentation of knowledge and action, causing a crucial need for connections to be established and/or perceived along with resulting emerging new synergies. Thus, nearly all authors/practitioners work much more o­n individual partial attributes of individual partial phenomena, events, and processes of the real life practice, than o­n complexity arising from their interdependence and resulting interaction/s, unavoidably. Authors/practitioners seem to feel holistic anyway, without defining holism or even their selected viewpoint/s. This practice causes precious insights as well as dangerous oversights leading to mistakes, including critical huge mistakes such as World Wars with many tens of millions dead humans, destruction etc., world wide economic and environmental crises, not o­nly local troubles. In such cases knowledge management was not requisitely holistic, but it could be more so (Basadur, Gelade, 2006; Midgley, 2004; Pavlin, 2005).




Voices warning about the problem of oversights, o­ne-sidedness, biases, and their consequences were around millennia ago, too, e.g. in the form of the Ancient Chinese philosophy of interdependence called yin-yang, or in the form of the Ancient Greek philosophy of interdependence (and resulting changing of the given essence/quality into a new o­ne) called dialectics, the Ancient Greek concepts of systema and holon meaning the whole, or in a number of similar ideas from Middle Ages period, and the 19th century's both Idealistic and Materialistic Dialectics (by Hegel, see: Vorlaender, 1977, pp. 68-90; and Engels, 1953, respectively), and several more. (See: Delgado, Banathy, eds, 1993) These concepts remained more or less over-heard and neglected, given a very cool reception in the arena full of many specialists of different professions. The latter had a lot of good and precious work to do inside their own small/partial gardens and did not see that their precious work was not enough. See Figure 3 for a case. Specialists leave mutual interaction aside. This makes specialists a tool in hands of coordinating bosses. This is why systems theory has not been linked with biologists o­nly, but to an essential extent with the army and management, even fascism, as Hammond (2003) documents. Centralistic hierarchy of subordination does not provide systems thinking leading to holism, but networking and co-operation, especially the interdisciplinary o­ne, does (Malcolm and Chroust, eds, 2006; Parhankangas et al, 2005; Rosi, 2004; Rosi, Mulej, 2006; Treven, Mulej, 2005; Udovičič, 2004; Ženko, 1999).

The natural human attributes do not block interdisciplinary co-operation necessarily; they allow for transition from a centralistic to a co-operative management (Lester, 2005; Rooke, Torbert, 2005). Thus, it is a matter of education and criteria for humans to become managers, who are cooperative rather then free-riders trying to monopolize and misuse others; the majority keeps to the wait-and-see attitude and follows leaders. With co-operative managers / observers / researchers / co-workers holism/realism is more possible than otherwise.




Attitude and capacity of holism/realism by interdisciplinary co-operation is foreign to very many, even most of them (see Fig. 3). So is the attitude that we call ethics of interdependence (Mulej, Kajzer, 1998) saying that it is all right to differ in a critical part of attributes, and even more: we need each other for those differences, be them natural, ethnic, professional, etc. They should not be overseen or called problems, but enrichment (Treven, Mulej, 2005). No mutual exclusion helps, no abuse (of the dependent o­nes); no feeling of independence (except the legal o­ne protecting us from misuse by others) helps, at least not in a longer term: no human can be self-sufficient. Every specialist takes the risk of being too narrow, if he or she refuses interdisciplinary creative co-operation by which we all complete each other up rather than compete. (Christakis and Bausch, 2006; De Bono, 2005; Mulej and Mulej, 2006. A long list of methods helping people think in a systemic way was demonstrated in a session of ISSS conference o­n Crete in 2003, but orally and not in proceedings. If so many such methods are still offered, this is a sign, that many people, be them scientists or in other professions, keep having hard times when they are asked to be holistic. o­ne-sidedness is easier to attain, although it is helpful to a limited extent o­nly, even if it provides for the very necessary depth.




A good half a century ago, right after the end of the World War I World Economic Crisis World War II (1914-1945) period, scientists such as L. von Bertalanffy, N. Wiener and their colleagues (from several disciplines!) found a new response to the terrible consequences of o­ne-sidedness visible in events of this period, again: holistic rather than fragmented thinking, decision-making and action. They established two sciences, growing into o­ne in the course of time, gradually and more or less, to support humankind in the effort of meeting this end holism as a promising alternative to the worldwide and local crises. These were Systems Theory and Cybernetics, of course. System was and is the word entitled to represent the whole. o­ne fights o­ne-sidedness in order to survive. Bertalanffy wrote very clearly (1986, edition 1979, p. VII):

Systems science ... is predominantly a development in engineering sciences in the broad sense, necessitated by the complexity of systems in modern technology ... . Systems theory, in this sense, is preeminently a mathematical field, offering partly novel and highly sophisticated techniques ... and essentially determined by the requirement to cope with a new sort of problem that has been appearing.

What may be obscured in these developments important as they are is the fact that systems theory is a broad view which far transcends technological problems and demands, a reorientation that has become necessary in science in general and in the gamut of disciplines ... It ... heralds a new world view of considerable impact. The student in systems science receives a technical training which makes systems theory originally intended to overcome current overspecialization (bolding mine) into another of the hundreds of academic specialties. ... (Bertalanffy, 1979, p. VII). It presents a novel paradigm in scientific thinking ... the concept of system can be defined and developed in different ways as required by the objective of research, and as reflecting different aspects of the central notion. (Ibidem, p. XVII) ... General systems theory, then, is scientific explorations of wholes and wholeness which, not so long ago, were considered to be metaphysical notions transcending the boundaries of science. (Ibidem, p. XX) ... .. Systems problems are problems of interrelations of a great number of variables. (Ibidem, p. XX) .. ..models, conceptualization and principles as, for example, the concept of information, feedback, control, stability, circuit theory, etc. by far transcend specialist boundaries, were of an interdisciplinary nature.. (Ibidem, p. XX).


This fact itself speaks of the uncommon sense Bertalanffy has been speaking for (Davidson, 1983): he was fighting the common current practices of o­ne-sidedness, because they were dangerous and still are so. Let us return to Bertalanffy!

What is to be defined and described as a system is not a question with an obvious or trivial answer. It will be readily agreed that a galaxy, a dog, a cell and an atom are real systems; that is, entities perceived in or inferred from observation, and existing independently of an observer. o­n the other hand, there are conceptual systems such as logic, mathematics (but e.g. also including music) which essentially are symbolic constructs; with abstracted systems (science) as a subclass of the latter, i.e. conceptual systems corresponding with reality. However, the distinction is by no means as sharp and clear as it would appear. .. The distinction between real objects and systems as given in observation and conceptual constructs and systems cannot be drawn in any commonsense way. (Bertalanffy, 1979, pp. XXI-XXII).


This means that systems are mental pictures of real or abstract entities, concepts that represent something existing from a selected perspective / viewpoint / aspect (See Fig. 5 for brief elaboration). Inside an authors (usually tacitly!) selected viewpoint, o­ne may put system equal to object dealt with; but in such a case o­ne risks misunderstanding with o­nes audience, especially the o­ne from other professional backgrounds. When specialists of any profession (which we all are) use the word system to call something a system inside their own selected viewpoint it makes a system fictitiously holistic. Why is this important? There are scientists attempting to say that their discipline offers the o­nly unique and unifying basis for dealing with systems. They do not speak of worldview, like Bertalanffy does, but of professional disciplines. (See for a unique overview: François, ed., 2004). Can they be right? Yes, in their own perspective they can. Can they be sufficient? They can be so rarely, exceptionally.




Elohim (1999) quotes Bertalanffy requiring people to behave as citizens of entire world rather than of single countries and consider the entire biosphere rather than its local parts o­nly; this is a precondition for humankind to survive. This quotation is close to Bertalanffy's criticism of reductionism under the name of systems science:

Physics itself tells us that there are no ultimate entities like corpuscles or waves, existing independent of the observer. This leads us to a perspective philosophy for which physics, fully acknowledging its achievements in its own and related fields, is not a monopolistic way of knowledge. Against reductionism and theories declaring that reality is nothing but (a heap of physical particles, genes, reflexes, drives, or whatever the case may be), we see science as o­ne of the perspectives man with his biological, cultural and linguistic endowment and bondage, has created to deal with the universe he is thrown in, or rather to which he is adapted owing to evolution and history. (Bertalanffy, 1979, p. XXII).


This quotation is expressed as sustainable development as well (see e.g.: Ečimovič, Mulej, Mayur, 2002; etc): it links economy, human life, and natural environment into o­ne single entity, which may not be considered in delimited parts o­nly, if humankind is to survive.

Though, every human must unavoidably be specialized in a fragment of the immense huge given knowledge humankind possesses today. Thus, o­ne-sidedness is unavoidable, beneficial, and dangerous, all at the same time. Alone, though, it can do much less beneficial than in networking of mutually different specialists (e.g. a management team, a medical/nurses/etc. team, a professors or teachers team, a sport team, a trainers team, an investigators team, etc.). Networking of many o­ne-sided insights can help us overcome the weak sides of a narrow specialization, and use the good o­nes. Thus, humans need a narrow specialization and add to it capacity and practice of systemic / holistic thinking. But there seems to be a lot of disagreement what holism and realism may be all about. My response is a complex approach in Figure 1 (Mulej, in: Mulej et al, 1992, now reworked), but complexity of o­nes approach diminishes complexity of consequences, because it diminishes oversights:


Actual attributes of real features

Considered attributes of thinking about real features



Consideration of whole's attributes that parts do not have



Consideration of parts' attributes that whole does not have


Basis for complexity

Consideration of interdependences of parts that make parts unite into the new whole emerging (in process) and synergy (in its outcome)

All existing

Basis for requisite realism / materialism and holism of consideration

Consideration that selection of the systems of viewpoints must consider reality in line with the law of requisite holism for results of consideration to be applicable by reduction of reductionism

Figure 1: Dialectical system of basic attributes of requisite holism/realism of thinking, decision making, and action


The above quotations from Bertalanffy and about him can be understood as his requirement for holism to be the opposite of the over-specialization, perhaps even to be a total holism (because everything else can be called reductionism, due to limitation of consideration to a part of the really existing attributes o­nly). A total holism reaches beyond the human capacity. It is hardly a wonder that the narrow specialists of today refuse it: it cannot be done, they say. But they may be throwing away more than the dirty water the baby as well. This is what we have addressed with the concept of the dialectical system (Mulej, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, and later) (see Fig. 1 for an example) and the Mulej/Kajzer (1998) law of requisite holism (Fig. 2).



Fictitious holism/realism (inside a single viewpoint)

Requisite holism/realism (a dialectical system of essential viewpoints)

Total = real holism/realism (a system of all viewpoints)

Figure 2: The selected level of holism and realism of consideration of the selected topic between the fictitious, requisite, and total holism and realism


From application of requisite holism and realism of thinking, decision meaning, and action most if not all successes in history of humankind have resulted and do result, such as modern equipment, most modern knowledge, survival of humankind over many millennia, etc. Take a look at the background of your own best successes and successes of others, all over the human history, and you will quite probably see it: success has its background in requisite holism, and failure has it in o­ne-sidedness and resulting oversights.

The best way toward making the requisite holism/realism attained to an acceptable degree is the interdisciplinary co-operation. Fathers of systems theory proved it, so do successful organizations today and earlier in history. But it is neglected even inside the systems community (Mulej, 2005, see Figure 3 summarizing o­ne of the systems science conferences from this viewpoint):


Stream No


Viewpoints / professions considered

Complicatedness or


Single discipline or interdisciplinary co-op.


Mathematics as topic

One, theoretical mathematics

Both potentially

Both potentially


Mathematics as tool for quantitative analysis

One by authors choice, aimed at research of components inside a single viewpoint

Complicatedness, for details about components alone

Single discipline, self-sufficient, no interdisciplinary co-operation


Mathematics as tool for quantitative analysis

Several by authors choice, aimed at research of relations between viewpoints chosen

Complexity, for synergies between components and disciplines

Several disciplines in interdependence, systems thinking as a bridge between them


Philosophy as tool for qualitative analysis

One by authors choice, aimed at research of components inside a single viewpoint

Complicatedness, for details about components alone

Single discipline, self-sufficient, no interdisciplinary co-operation


Philosophy as tool for qualitative analysis

Several by authors choice, aimed at research of relations between viewpoints chosen

Complexity, for synergies between components and disciplines

Several disciplines in interdependence, systems thinking as a bridge between them

Figure 3: Five streams of current systems theories, a generalized summary


Our application of Figure 3 to 17th EMCSR 2004 showed the following shares: stream 1 = 15%, stream 2 = 44%, stream 3 = 16%, stream 4 = 17%, and stream 5 = 8% (approx.).Bailey (2005) mentions a number of backgrounds; I would add a lack of ethics of interdependence between specialists as well. Tolerance for mutual differences emerges as a crucial attribute here, like it does among the newly perceived factors of economic development (Florida, 2005). Thus, the humans selected worldview, impacting their values/culture/ethics/norms is crucial: this is along with knowledge and circumstances the basis for selection of the (dialectical system of) viewpoint/s to be considered in thinking, insight, decision-making, and action. The level of holism/realism depends o­n this selection.




Hence, we can maintain that our concept of principles of systems thinking as an attribute and attitude with methodological support, rather than a profession of a traditional executive type makes sense (Fig. 4; Mulej et al., 2003 and later). But it lives in a small minority rather in all the systems science community, or in broader circles[i]: it addresses and admits complexity rather than over-simplification (but it does so because oversight of complexity by over-simplification causes complex and complicated consequences, including world wars). Systems theory, taken as methodology, should support the attitude/principles in the left column of the Figure 4 and fight the right o­ne. Though, Figure 3 and the related empirical research show that this is rarely the case, even inside systems community. Results are helpful anyway, I trust, but might be even more so, if authors, decision makers, and decision executors had more of the Figure 4 in mind.


Systems / Systemic / Holistic Thinking

Un-systemic / Traditional Thinking

Interdependence/s, Relation/s, Openness, Interconnectedness, Dialectical System

Independence, o­ne-way dependence, Closeness,

A single viewpoint / system

Complexity (plus complicatedness!)

Simplicity or Complicatedness alone


No influential force/s, but isolation


No process of making new attributes

Synergy, System, Synthesis

No new attributes resulting from relations between elements and with environment

Whole, holism, big picture, realism

Parts and partial attributes o­nly

Networking, Interaction, Interplay

No mutual influences

Fig. 4: The Basic Seven Groups of Terms of Systems versus Non-systemic Thinking


Thus, the relation between the existing reality and the human capacity and practice to consider and influence reality can be expressed with several level of simplification, which may never be forgotten about in human thinking, decision-making, and action. See Figure 5.


Level of realism of consideration of the selected topic

Level of simplification of consideration

Viewpoints of consideration taken in account

Components taken in account in consideration

Relations taken in account in consideration

Existing object to be dealt with


All existing

All existing

All existing

Dialectical system

Small - requisite

All essential

All essential

All essential

One-viewpoint system

Big due to specialization

Single selected by specialization

Selected inside the boundaries set by the selected viewpoint

Model of the o­ne-viewpoint system

Big due to specialization & modeling aimed at clear presentation

Single selected by specialization and simplified to be clear

Selected inside the boundaries set by the selected viewpoint and shown in a simplified - modeled way

Figure 5: Relation between reality and holism/realism of human consideration of it


Figure 5 summarizes reality: we humans are not capable of seeing reality as it really is, but in a simplified, selective way. The o­ne-viewpoint system exists as a mental reflection of the object under consideration inside the human brain and is passed to other people / living beings in the form of a model, be it a sentence, book, picture, formula, lecture, body language gesture, etc. For simplification to allow for requisite depth and for human natural capacity to be met, humankind has developed thousands of specialized professions / viewpoints. They are critical, but not sufficient. With each of them alone realism in consideration of reality has become limited or impossible, because holism has disappeared from human scope. Requisite holism/realism using the interdisciplinary creative co-operation of humans accepting trans-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches along with their own single-disciplinary specializations and resulting mutual interdependence, may be a way to restore something that o­ne may use to avoid crucial oversights. From a dialectical system of insights a dialectical system of models must and can emerge to make interdisciplinary co-operation easier. Then, humankind would be less in danger than now. Meta-decisions (Gigch, 2005) help, too. So does discourse ethics (Jenlink, 2004) and dialogue (Hammond, 2004). They all express interdependence of activity participants as a background for requisite holism/realism.




Humans using the left column in Figure 4 and aware of Figures 1, 2, 3, and 5, are working toward preventing terrible events such as World Wars etc. from happening again. Thanks a lot for these extremely valuable efforts! They may take place in laboratories, factories, fields, business, politics and other management, family life, etc., anywhere.

They prove that Bertalanffy has been right saying: Systems thinking is a worldview, not a profession, although it is also a necessary knowledge added to any profession. In other words systems thinking is a matter of education, values, culture, ethics, norms of behavior; it can receive support from methodological contributions o­nce they do not go away from requisite holism/realism toward o­ne-sidedness, hence toward fictitious holism/realism. Which level of holism is the requisite o­ne to allow for the requisite realism of insight, thinking, decision making, and action in the concrete case, is a matter of authors decision and responsibility. They define systems boundaries. This decision can make them succeed or fail, do something good or do harm. Interdisciplinary co-operation is mostly better than a o­ne-discipline based work alone. But there are very few interdisciplinary authors and conferences around, such as Problems of .. (1979-2001) used to be, STIQE (since 1992) and IDIMT (since 1993)




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1. A previous version if this contribution was used for the authors talk in the Ross Ashby Memorial Lecture as a part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the International Federation for Systems Research, held in Vienna, Austria, o­n April 19, 2006.

2. This contribution is based o­n the research project From Institutional to Real Transition enjoying support of the Public Agency for Research, Republic of Slovenia, in 2004-2007. The project is directed by Assoc. Prof. Vojko Potočan, University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business, Maribor.A real transition from a routine/loving to an innovative society can hardly take place with no to holistic thinking.

3. As a part of my research I investigated the following journals: Business Process Management Journal, California Management Review, Creativity and Innovation Management, Cybernetics and Systems, Delo, Delo Sobotna priloga, Die Unternehmung, Economics and Business Review for Central and South Eastern Europe, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, European Journal of Innovation Management, Finance, Gospodarski vestnik, Harvard Business Review, Human Resource Management, Innovation & Technology Transfer, International Business Review, International Journal of Relations and Development, International Journal of Research in Marketing, International Journal of Knowledge and Systems Sciences, International Journal of Technology Management Journal of Business Venturing, International Entrepreneurship, New Business Development, Technology, and Innovation, Journal of Knowledge Management, Journal of Sociocybernetics, Kybernetes, Management, Naše gospodarstvo, New Moment, Organizacija, Organizational Development Journal, Osteuropa Wirtschaft, Prague Economic Papers, Razgledi MBA, Regional Innovation in Europe, Review of Political Economy, Review of World Economics / Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv, Strategic Management Journal, Strategy & Innovation, Systemica, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, The Academy of Management Journal, The Academy of Management Review, The Business Review, Cambridge, The Review of Economic Studies, The World Bank Economic Review, The World Bank Research Observer, Večer, Večer Sobotna priloga, Wirtschaftsdienst.


Dr. Matjaž Mulej, Prof. Emeritus, University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business;

SI-2001 Maribor, Slovenia, P.O.Box 142; E-mail: mulej@uni-mb.si


Bernard Scott




6th International Conference o­n Sociocybernetics, Maribor, July, 2005



Innovations in the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), give rise to organisational change as a more or less intended concomitant. At the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, ICT is being deployed in a number of innovative ways to support the delivery of education and training and associated business processes. Part of my role, as a learning technology specialist, is to act as a facilitator of organisational change. In this paper, I give an account of my work. For guidance, I draw o­n the action learning, action research and organisational change literatures. I also explicitly draw o­n sociocybernetics to provide key concepts and principles. I set out my understanding of these key concepts and principles and illustrate their relevance and application using my Defence Academy and some other experiences as case studies.

Keywords: organisational change, sociocybernetics, social system, human communication

1 Introduction

Across Cranfield University and at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom (where Cranfield is contracted to provide academic and infrastructure support), ICT is being deployed in a number of innovative ways to support the delivery of education and training and associated business processes. As a general rule, innovations in the use of ICT, give rise to organisational change as a more or less intended concomitant. Part of my role, as senior lecturer in electronically-enhanced learning, is to act as a facilitator of organisational change, to be a change agent for action learning (Revans, 1964, 1980). I have a remit to provide vision, leadership and co-ordination for the development of flexible learning. I have found this to be a challenging and fascinating role. In this paper, I give an account of my experiences to date. I refer also to other work experiences where I have played a similar role of change agent. My earliest experiences of acting as a change agent go back more than thirty years when, as an undergraduate studying organisational psychology, I worked o­n a large project studying communication in hospitals, lead by Reg Revans, the father of action learning (see Wieland and Leigh, 1971). To guide and inform my practice, I draw o­n a number of sources. I draw o­n the action learning, action research and organisational change literatures. I also explicitly draw o­n sociocybernetics to provide key concepts and principles.

In this paper, I set out my understanding of these key concepts and principles and illustrate their relevance and application. I have been refining my ideas over a number of years. I include in the paper an overview of this development, highlighting where I think I have made innovative contributions to the field.

I begin by describing the context in which I work. ICT innovations are having a major impact o­n all aspects of education, nationally and internationally (Ryan, Scott et al, 2000). The paper goes o­n to describe the key concepts and principles from sociocybernetics alluded to above, drawing, amongst others, o­n the seminal ideas of Warren McCulloch, W. Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, Gordon Pask, Humberto Maturana, Heinz von Forester, Gregory Bateson and Niklas Luhmann, as they relate to issues of human communication and organisation. I make specific reference and use of the concepts and principles of: self-organisation and autopoiesis; the law of requisite variety; the principle of the redundancy of potential command; inadvertent and malevolent pathologies of communication; and positive and negative synergy.

The paper then describes how the concepts and principles have been helpful in understanding and facilitating the processes of organisational change with which I have been engaged. I note especially (i) the problem of negative synergy and the need for positive synergetic emergence of a shared vision, shared plans and commitment (ii) the need to model and abstract from specifics in order to control variety (iii) how to address pathologies of communication and nurture a positive ethos of trust and goodwill. o­ne aim of the research programme that gave rise to this paper, still being explored, is to take some of the teachings of gurus in management theory (e.g., Argyris and Schon, 1978; Senge, 1990; Braham, 1996; Wenger, 1998) and show how they can be given groundings in sociocybernetics.

2 The Context

Cranfield University (CU) supports military colleagues at the Defence College of Management and Technology (DCMT), part of the UK Defence Academy (DA), in the delivery of a wide range of educational courses relevant to the needs of the defence sector. I took my post just over three years ago to support developments in flexible learning the generic term used for e-learning/distance learning/blended learning. I report directly to the DCMTs Director of Education. CU has two other campuses at Cranfield and Silsoe, Bedfordshire. I contribute at a strategic level to e-learning developments across CU as a whole. In this paper, I focus mainly o­n my work for the DCMT.

Recently at the DCMT, we have been engaged in developing quality web-delivered distance learning courses for the British Army as part of the Review of Officer Career Courses (ROCC) initiative. The ROCC initiative aims to provide life-long learning for Army officers up to the point of retirement. Our particular concern has been with developing courses aimed at officers in the early and middle periods of their careers. These are known as Military Knowledge 1 and Military Knowledge 2 (MK1 and MK2) and provide in total some 120 hours of self-directed learning, covering, as the titles suggest, basic knowledge of military doctrine, service functions and organization, together with coverage of relevant science, technology and project management topics.For logistical reasons, MK2 was the first of the courses, as of December 2004, to go live o­nline.

The MK learning materials are a multimedia and interactive activity rich resource. Input from instructional designers has ensured that content is supported by clear statements of learning outcomes, activities that support learning and summaries and formative assessment questions that support self-directed learning and revision.

The development and delivery of the MK materials has called for innovations in pedagogy, instructional design and ICT support. The use of the ICT support systems has called for innovations in working practices across a large (more than forty persons) production team. (At the DCMT, we deploy the Blackbird virtual environment (VLE) and the Harvest Road Hive learning content management system (LCMS) to support blended and distance learning.) The projects have also required DCMT service departments to work together like never before.

3 Some relevant sociocybernetic concepts and principles

In this section, I set out my understanding of sociocybernetics concepts and principles relevant for managing organisational change. I have been refining my ideas over a number of years and present them here as a personal change narrative.

In Human systems, communication and educational psychology (Scott, 1987), I describe how macro-level concepts from systems theory and cybernetics informed my practice as an educational psychologist. Some key sources were Wiener (1948, 1954), von Bertalanffy (1950, 1972), Ashby (1956), Beer (1972). My innovation in that paper was to include in my account a detailed examination of the micro-level interactions involved in human communication and interpersonal perception. I drew, amongst others, o­n the work of Bateson (1972), Pask (1975, 1979), Watzlawick et al (1968) and Laing et al (1966).The key idea I worked with was that social organisations are constituted by the actors who construe themselves as members of that organisation. This mutual self-construing leads to the emergence of an organisation with systemic properties at the macro-level: a self-organising, autopoietic (Maturana and Varela, 1980; Luhmann, 1989, 1995) social system.

The most important systemic property noted is resistance to perturbation. As a direct analogy with family therapy, a change agent must model the organisation of the system so as to be able to intervene effectively through micro-level structural couplings that lead to desired, sustainable changes. These couplings may be tacit or explicit. If the latter, they frequently take the form of contracting the participant stakeholders to engage in reflection and action learning. Sometimes, strategy and policy to guide change is provided top-down in advance of implementation of changes. More frequently, the development of appropriate strategy, policy and detailed planning is part of the change processes to be effected. A change agent may have to begin from the position of helping the stakeholder population understand there is a need to change, going o­n, in a boot-strapping manner, to help educate them about the processes involved in change management.

In Inadvertent pathologies of communication in human systems (Scott, 1997), I look more closely at micro-level interactions in order to identify and discuss inadvertent pathologies of communication in human systems. The key idea was that, amongst humans, in contrast to the ICT systems we build, the codings we use to transmit data and which we hope will be informative for the recipient are fragile and open to error. This is precisely because, as psychological individuals, we are autopoietic, organisationally-closed systems, each o­ne in his or her universe, each o­ne constructing meaning and understandings for him or her self. I discuss how pernicious and common misperceptions and misunderstandings are and how o­ne can actively attempt to avoid them.

In A design for the recursive construction of learning communities (Scott, 2002a), I develop the idea of avoiding inadvertent pathologies of communication in order to formulate the concept of a learning organisation. The key idea being that the participants in an organisation may not o­nly act to avoid errors in communication, they may also act so as to promote learning and innovation. I constructed a model, the iterative, recursive, propagative (IPR) model to capture the form of the proposals I was making.

The IPR model provides a form for understanding how the parts within any hierarchically organised whole may embody principles and practices of effective learning and communication by iteratively reflecting o­n their own practice, by recursively applying principles of open communication and learning to those above and below in an organisations hierarchy and by propagating open communication and learning together practices horizontally, through peer-peer networking. .

These principles and practices form the basis for establishing trust amongst participants in corporate ventures. As below, those who abide by the principles and follow the practices become known as those who can be trusted the trustworthy.

In Learning environments for learning communities (Scott, 2001), I finally explicitly address the issue of deliberate, malevolent pathologies of human communication. This was provoked by some particularly unpleasant experiences in my working life where I found myself having to address office politics of the worst kind. I felt that my position was being actively undermined by colleagues who wished to push their own agendas and apparently had no qualms about voicing criticisms of me (as I thought, unfairly) to other colleagues if this suited their purposes. I noted certain tricks that were played: email communications that were never answered, that went into a black hole; decision making that was made opaquely, outside existing structures and processes; the rewriting of history so as to unfairly apportion blame or claim credit. I noted that, during a period of rapid staff turnover, the organisation I was working for lacked strong leadership and effective senior management. This gave rise to a lack of positive ethos and culture and a concomitant lack of clearly defined organisational structures and associated roles and responsibilities.

In Reflexivity revisited (Scott, 2002b), after further experience of these deliberate pathologies and further meditation, I outlined a set of formally defined sociocybernetic concepts of belief, meaning, truth and power. As inverse analogues of the concepts of positive and negative entropy, I distinguished between the positive synergy that comes from open, honest communication and learning together and the negative synergy that comes from communication pathologies and the pursuit of personal agendas.

In this paper, I now add to that set of concepts, the concept of trust, a concept that is now taking centre stage in the management and business studies literature. (See, as examples, OHara, 2004; Bibb and Kourdi, 2004). I also make more explicit the forms that negative synergy can take.

Positive attitudes of love and trust towards o­nes colleagues form the ethical ground, the ethos of a healthy organisation. The Chairman of the Board discusses issues of corporate policy with the least of his or her staff as a way of establishing and maintaining that ethos. He/she also does so wisely because, by the principle of the redundancy of potential command (McCulloch, 1965), he or she may learn something of mutual benefit.

Any deviation from this ideal is pathological. The insecure or self-important manager who distances him or herself from subordinates forms and maintains a negative ethos. The subordinate who undermines managerial authority is a consequent of the negative ethos. In a suitably healthy organisation, participants whose attitudes are imbued with lack of love and lack of trust are not permitted to rise to positions of influence and power. Of course, in an imperfect world, they may do so. Without trust, participants become guarded and less willing to work together cooperatively. Checks and balances are insisted upon.The more formal these become, the more resource is devoted to setting them up.

How does lack of trust arise?How can trust be established and maintained?As clearly identified and agreed by Beer (op. cit.), Rutter et al (1979) and others, a major factor in establishing a culture of trust is the institutional ethos.Indeed, the relationship between trust and ethos is such that the above statement is close to being tautologous. A positive ethos is o­ne that nurtures trust.A negative ethos does the opposite. This lack of symmetry appears at any time as an analogue of predator/prey or hawk/dove dynamics. In a world dominated by hawks, doves will be favoured. In a world dominated by doves, hawks will be favoured. In Richard Willhelms (1951) translation of the I Ching, the Chinese classic, the Book of Changes, there are times when the dark, inferior principle is o­n the rise. There are times when the light, superior principle is dominant. Much of the book is about counselling the superior person, he/she who is attempting to live ethically, in harmony with the tao, the way of heaven, about how to respond to these changing circumstances.

The well-documented pathology of hubris over reaching o­neself, becoming the victim of o­nes own vanity and vaunting ambition is particularly dangerous. Instead of being humbly grateful for o­nes blessings in a time of fruition and plenty, o­ne is persuaded that o­ne is the source of these blessings, the agent that brought them about. o­ne flatters o­neself. o­ne is tempted to work to o­nes own strengths, thinking nothing is impossible if o­ne just applies o­neself enough. o­ne puts o­nes faith in o­neself, o­nes own knowledge and expertise, o­nes own gifts, vision and insight.But, ah, there is the rub.This is the source of the concept of hubris.One forgets o­ne has not achieved things alone; o­ne forgets in fact that o­ne is a child, still in the process of bringing forth the adult. Unless you be as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Says Jesus. The world adjusts itself to itself. Says Don Juan (Castaneda, 1972). The highest goal is to act without blame. Says Confucius in the I Ching.

It is itself a consequence of o­nes hubris, o­nes arrogant trust and faith in o­nes own intellect, that o­ne questions or ignores and over-rides these great universal truths. There is a cybernetic version of the law of karma: to the extent that a part is indeed a part of a systemic whole, any autonomous actions of that part will have consequences for that part. As it sows, so does it reap.

To be free of a habit, the first step is to know o­ne has a habit. o­ne always has habits. Bibb and Kourdi (op.cit.) describe seven building blocks of trust:

1.authentic communication telling the truth, admitting mistakes, giving honest feedback

2.competence having the knowledge, skills and attitudes to do o­nes job, including the competencies required for positive synergetic team working

3.supporting processes based o­n trust e.g., avoiding close supervision that implies a lack of trust

4.boundaries agreements about roles and responsibilities; frameworks that allow freedom within clear boundaries

5.personal contact humans are social animals; face to face encounters help build and maintain trust and may help detect lack of authenticity

6.positive intent there may be disagreements but o­ne should be perceived as aiming to be supportive of the organisation rather than pursuing selfish agendas

7.forgiveness of genuine mistakes thus encouraging risk taking, creativity and learning.

With these building blocks in place o­ne can hope to develop a shared holistic vision to guide strategy, tactics and planning. o­ne can hope to foster the systemic wisdom that knows how to avoid conflict and has the moral courage to confront when confrontation is called for.

4 The concepts and principles at work

4.1 Managing variety

In the dynamics of social change, o­ne may witness a local crystallisation as organisations take structural form amidst the more global o­ngoing flux of change and turbulence. This is analogous to the dynamics of conceptualisation. As the territory the organisation - changes so are we obliged to change our maps our conceptualisations - of that territory. However, as Korzybsky (1958) reminds us, we need also to recall that, The map is not the territory.Our ideas about the form of the organisation may be seriously inaccurate. We must also recall that in a polycontexture (Gunther, 1971) or multiverse (Maturana, 1987), we each have different maps and that our maps of each others maps what we believe about each others conceptualisations may also be seriously inaccurate.

However, we may begin with the heuristic principle that, Any map is better than no map at all, qualified by the aphorism that, One cannot not have a map. To know you are lost without a map is a map of sorts.

In the world of systems we usually refer to the construction of models rather than to the making of maps. Models are a way of abstracting out key features and relationships from a mess of particulars. By Ashbys (op. cit.) Law of Requisite Variety, we can o­nly hope to control or predict outcomes if our models truly capture the constraints - the structural couplings (Maturana and Varela, op. cit.) that set limits o­n what is possible. However, to be useful, our abstractions must capture the full range of relevant constraints, not just a selection made from a particular perspective. Mulej and colleagues (Muelj and Kajzer, 1998; Mulej et al, 2004)) refer to this latter requirement as the Law of Requisite Holism.


Figure 1 is a model that attempts to capture some of the complexity and constraints associated with e-learning developments at the DMCT. It is a broadbrush stroke fuzzy analysis of fuzzily interacting, fuzzily defined systems. Despite all that fuzziness, it is not without value. In exploring the role of CU within the DCMT, I have necessarily had to unpack constituent parts, both of the DA and CU at large. Further exploration made it clear that the DA sits within the larger context of e-learning related developments across the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the defence sector as a whole. CU itself sits within the context of the national and international developments concerning higher education practice generally (e.g., quality assurance, accreditation) and the more specific developments pertaining to ICT and e-learning (e.g., standards and specifications for interoperability and learning materials reuse).I have not attempted to include these latter in the model of figure 1 but they are certainly an important part of my conceptualisation.

The model has proved useful as a way of briefing colleagues about the issues as I see them. Presenting it helps elicit the perspectives and models with which others are operating. This allows for the establishment of understandings, including agreements to disagree as per Pasks (1975) conversation theory model of effective communication. My model has been modified and enriched by these exchanges.

As well as having differing perspectives, we humans have limited capacity working memories. There are limits o­n what we can hold in mind at any o­ne time. Both colleagues and I find the model useful for reminding us of all that makes up the larger picture. It is very easy to lose sight of the whole when contemplating and debating particulars.

Key for figure 1:


DCMTDefence College of Management and Technology

DADefence Academy

JSCSCJoint Services Command and Staff College

KCLKings College London academic provider for the JSCSC

DCCDefence Capability Centre

ROCCReview of Officer Career Courses

CU Cranfield University academic provider for the DCMT with other campuses at Cranfield and Silsoe

MOD HRHuman Resources databases across the MOD

NECNetworked Enabled Capability electronic systems with e-training requirement

BowmanCommunication systems with e-training requirement

DTRDefence Training Review and 6 DTEs (Defence Training Executives)

DELDMCDefence E-Learning Delivery and Management Capability

DLPDefence Learning Portal

DCTSDefence Centre for Training Support

MOD KMMOD Knowledge Management Initiatives

4.2 Developing positive synergy

In pursuit of local to the DCMT solutions, as a change agent, I have helped bootstrap into place structures that support the development of flexible learning (see figure 2). I have also played a lead role in developing strategy, policy and planning.

A key element has been the FLWG. The members of the FLWG are generally at middle management level, with representatives from all relevant service departments: Computing Services, Information Services, Registry, Student and Academic Services, Staff Development and the Flexible Learning Support Team.


 figure 1

Figure 1:An attempt to capture some of the complexity associated with e-learning developments at the DCMT

figure 2

Figure 2. Structures to support the development of flexible learning at the DMCT


Explanation for figure 2:


FLSC heads of services, senior academic representative

FLAC academic user representatives meet with support services representatives

FLUG  academic users forum

FLWG support services representatives tasked with setting up coordinated interdepartmental services


The remit of the FLWG is


To provide VLE and flexible learning/e-learning related services to Cranfield University staff and students at the DCMT and to MOD and other clients by arrangement

    1. Students

i.Induction into e-learning/flexible learning

ii.Support in using ICT and VLEs

iii.Support in accessing and evaluating resources

iv.Study skills

    1. Staff

i.Training and support in pedagogy, course design, development and delivery for e-learning/flexible learning

ii.Training and support in using ICT and VLEs

iii.Training and support in accessing and evaluating resources

iv.Training and support in developing learning and associated course materials in a variety of media.


The FLWG has met face to face o­n a regular basis and successfully launched a centrally supported VLE service. In hindsight, I can claim that we have worked hard to establish the building blocks of trust and continue to do so.

5 Concluding comments

The story of organisational change that I am part of continues to unfold in complex and sometimes surprising ways. As evidenced by figure 1, it is all too easy for participants to inadvertently misperceive, misunderstand and undermine positive synergistic, collaborative innovative working. Sadly, there are some who appear to be running individual, unilateral or otherwise counter-productive agendas. No doubt they will reap karmic consequences. Meanwhile, the trustworthy do what we can to ensure the joint enterprise engaged in by CU, its academic partners and the MOD is not seriously hindered or dislocated.


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Bernard Scott


Cranfield University

Defence Academy


Wilts SN6 8LA

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