Using the Viable System Model as a basis for an Enterprise Architecture Framework

18 March 2009

I sometimes describe Enterprise Architecture as a realisation of the System 4 (focusing on strategy/future/intelligence) in Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM).  Or as a combination of System 4 and System 3 (focusing on Audit/control/governance).  This reference to VSM doesn’t work so well as unfortunately as most people are not familiar with Stafford Beer’s work and will just give you a blank pitying look… but I think it is a good approach to consider.

For more info on VSM look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viable_System_Model.  

I created an EA framework based on the VSM a while ago, but have not yet found a client that was interested in using it. If anyone is interested then you can see this at  http://iea.wikidot.com/vsm and download a spreadsheet version.

Tom Graves has also done some intersting work in this area, linking Services to VSM (http://www.tetradian.com/download/tet-vsm.pdf).

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3 Responses to “Using the Viable System Model as a basis for an Enterprise Architecture Framework”

  1. John Douglas Says:

    I have been using VSM as an approach to EA for a few years. However, rather than fit it into a Zachman frameworks (using Zachman or its derivatives: TOGAF, DODAF. MODAF … ), I have used it to limit the definition of the scope of an enterprise – so making an agile approach to EA. Essentially, by using the iterative refinement approach inherent in VSM, it is possible to make the “enterprise” as small as necessary to home in on a problem area. Therefore we have the basis for incremental development. More recently I have merged the VSM concept with the Deming (PDCA) and Six Sigma Models (DMAIC) to construct a model which uses the frameworks as a guide within kaisan-based improvement programmes.

  2. TPH Says:

    how have you applied kaizen techniques to your EA framework? does your model measure complexity?


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