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Manifold Subsystem Model

"The lethal variety attenuator is sheer ignorance."

  • Stafford Beer

Variety grows exponentially with the size of organizations and major systems, creating vast amounts of complexity in regard to its interactions. Some real-world systems have levels of variety that are effectively infinite. However, our perceptions attenuate (“filter-out”) any variety which is irrelevant to what we are trying to observe.

  • Operations - elements that do things. (Infrastructure & Software)
  • Management - elements that control operations. (Protocol) & Governance)
  • Environment - the surroundings within which the other elements function. (Price and Ethereum Main Network)

The VBSM is an implementation of the Viable Systems Model for decentralized blockchain networks with an emphasis on autonomy, viability, and stability

In reaching a viable state, defined terms and sub-systems must be formalized and specified. This section of the documentation is an effort in trying to formalize such goals, objectives and key results that can be achieved when a systems-based approach is combined with formal design and mechanisms to achieve said goals.

Sub Systems

"Complexity is less the issue than inconsistency in an environment."

A hierarchy is a system of nested groups. A standard organizational chart is a hierarchy, with employees grouped into business units and departments reporting to a centralized authority. Other kinds of hierarchies include government bureaucracies, biological taxonomies, and a system of menus in a software program. Hierarchies are inherently “top-down,” in that they are designed to enable centralized control from a single, privileged position.

A network, by contrast, has no “correct” orientation, and thus no bottom and no top. Each individual, or “node,” in a network functions autonomously, negotiating its own relationships and coalescing into groups. Examples of networks include a flock of birds, the World Wide Web, and the social ties in a neighborhood. Networks are inherently “bottom-up,” in that the structure emerges organically from small interactions without direction from a central authority.

System 1

Concerned with all the basic, primary operations of the organization, which justify the existence of the system as a whole, and the management of these operations.

System 2

Deals with the inevitable problems which emerge as several autonomous, self-organizing operational parts interact. There will be conflicts of interest that must be resolved. System 2 is there to harmonize the interactions, keep the peace, to deal with the problems. Without System 2, the system would shake itself to pieces.

System 3

Concerned with synergy. It looks at the entire interacting cluster of operational units from its meta-systemic perspective and considers ways to maximize its effectiveness through collaboration. System 3 ensures the whole system works better than the operational parts working in isolation. It represents all the structures that are put in place by senior leadership to dictate rules, rights, resources and responsibilities within System 1, and also to provide an interface for interaction with Systems 4 and 5. This system represents the broad view of all the operations activities within the first system. In simple terms, it is the everyday control of the organization which is exerted by senior leaders. There is little variety in the activities which occur within the third system.

System 4

Ensures the whole system can adapt to a rapidly changing and sometimes hostile environment. It scans the outside world in which it operates, looks for threats and opportunities, undertakes research and simulations, and proposes plans to guide the system through the various possible pathways it could follow. Without System 4, the system would be unable to cope with the complexity of the external environment in which it operates. In essence, it is responsible for looking externally from the organization or overall system, at the environment in which it operates, and establishing which factors may impact operations, and how it needs to adapt to remain viable and sustainable. There are also channels leading each way between System 4 and System 3, as any necessary changes must be implemented through flow down towards the Control systems, but also System 3 must provide information regarding the organization in its current form. This allows System 4 to formulate a clear model containing both the organization and the environment, which forms the basis of adaptive strategies.

System 5

Provides closure to the whole system. It defines and develops the vision and values of the system through policies. System 5 creates the identity, the ethos, and the ground rules under which everyone operates. It aligns with the tasks of everyone in the organization. This is the system that holds the overall control, though not necessarily directly, as it forms the culture and values of the organization, and thus dictates policy decisions that control all the below systems. This system should always be maintained as separate from the control exerted by System 3.

System 5 monitors the interaction between S3 and S4 to ensure all plans are within policy guidelines. If not, it steps in and applies its ultimate authority.

Systems 1, 2 and 3 between them make up the internal environment of the viable system — the Inside and Now. The autonomous parts function in a harmonizing internal environment which maximizes its effectiveness through creating mutually supportive relationships.