Structured Viable Systems with Human Development: the case of STIMEVIS -- Nikitas A. Assimakopoulos

ISSS Meeting at Asilomar, June 28-July 2, 1999 
  • Paper Session, June 29, 1999, 1:20 p.m., chaired by Arne Collen 
These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing ( at the IBM AdvancedBusiness Institute ( ).

Nikitas Assimakopoulos, Department of Informatics, U. Piraeus, (Port of Athens) Greece 

  • Systemic Analysis Group 
Skeleton of the paper: 
  • How the ideas came about. 
  • Brief Viable Systems Model. 
  • Then Problem Structuring Methodology 
  • Van Gigch Meta-systems and meta-decisions. 
  • Total Systems Intervention, Flood & Jackson. 
  • Will then present a multi-methodology -- STIMEVIS 
  • Application of the multi-methodology for the largest Internet Service Provider in Greece. 
Viable system 
  • Want an effective systems approach that will adapted to new known or unknown environments. 
  • If the adaptation is successful, then have viable development. 
  • First, need to assign the viable system 
  • Then cognitive level of system 
  • Adjust to location and time 
  • Role of control structure stages 
  • The necessity for complex systems 
  • Validation of viable system. 
Organizational cybernetics: 
  • Beer 1979, 5 main subsystems of VSM. 
  • Ideas of control. 
Problem structure methodology: 
  • Started working on this in 1985 
  • Article published on blood transfusion centers 
  • Systems as squares, individuals as circles. 
  • 6 types of communications by Bowen (1983) in J. Op Res of England 
  • Topology (of subsystems within systems) 
  • Latest development of coding forms: building a CASE tool. 
Organization designed in three levels 
  • Easy to teach, richer than VSM, and has the same ideas of control as VSM. 
  • Communication between individuals. 
  • Decision-support system, where the procedure can follow the path. 
    • Follow the best path for the procedure you want. 
Meta-methodology of van Gigch (using the above Problem-Solving Structure).

Using Total Systems Intervention 

  • Start with problem context. 
    • Through creativity, choice and implementation -- to check if the design is good. 
  • First, use TSI 
    • May adopt soft methodologies at the first stage. 
  • Then add VSM to TSI 
    • For control 
  • Thirdly, add PSM + 
  • Fourthly, add Meta + 
    • Meta is pronounced me-TA, which is a control level above 
Applied STIMEVIS to FORTHnet 
  • Routing e-mail over the Internet may go to many countries, to get next door. 
  • Two sides to approach: managerial and technical. 
First TSI + VSM (looks like a Beer style chart).

Add PSM: adds subsystems to chart.

Technical presentation: geographies of Europe (in PSM coding form) 

  • One geographic region 
    • Easier to view queuing problems. 
  • VSM is still strong, and in use. 
  • Based on PSM methodology and coding forms. 
  • Expect to have case tool to market in a few years. 
  • New methodology based on total structuring at levels of the organization. 
  • Can be used in e-commerce. 
  • Can be used in re-engineering. 
  • Can be used to validate services provided by Internet Service Providers in multi-criteria decision models. 
Personal aspects for Total Viable Development. 
  • How productive is my work? 
  • If have an old information system and a new information system: 
    • The old one works well, the new one doesn't. 
    • The problem is the humans working in the old system. 
  • Need to do human development. 
  • Consultants 
    • should be meek with their customers. 
    • should show respect 
    • should be honest 
    • should be sincere 
    • should love each other -- the wisdom on this pyramid scale. 
  • How do we improve love among people? 
    • Apply methods such as these. 


Problems in implementing the methodology: 
  • Blood transfusion center article published in European J. of OR. 
  • Application in bank has been published in Action Research. 
  • Biggest challenge has been meekness, need to be soft with customers, as you leave them and they live with the result. 
  • Need to get the customers to self-organize. 
What are the criteria to know if the system is working well? 
  • Have experts write down methodology in Greek / English. 
  • Then apply methodology. 
  • Steps of management intervention -- when they agree on one step, then go to the next. 
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This page was last modified by David Ing on October 6, 2002.