The VSM Guide

An introduction to the
Viable System Model
as a diagnostic & design tool
for co-operatives & federations

Jon Walker

Version 3.2 (2020)

Section 0: Cybernetic Eyes
Section 1: The Quick Guide to the VSM
Section 2: Case Studies
        Hebden Water Milling 1985
        Triangle Wholefoods 1986
        One Mondragon Co-operative 1991
Section 3: Preliminary Diagnosis
Janus interlude
Section 4: Designing Autonomy
Section 5: The Internal Balance
Section 6: Information Systems
Section 7: Balance with the Environment
Section 8: Policy Systems
Section 9: The Whole System
Section 10: Application to Federations

Appendix 1: Levels of Recursion
Appendix 2: Variety

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Viable System Model

How to design a healthy business: The use of the Viable System Model in the diagnosis and design of organisational structures in co-operatives and other social economy enterprises

A manual for the diagnosis and design of organisational structures to enable social economy enterprises and function with increased efficiency without compromising democratic principles

Based on The Viable Systems Model Pack, originally published as part of the SMSE Strategic Management in the Social Economy training programme
carried out by ICOM, CRU, CAG and Jon Walker with the financial assistance of Directorate General XXIII of the Commission of the European Communities.

The original version was completed October 1991. This 3rd revised version incorporates new material.

This HTML version was constructed by , who also prepared the diagrams and the bibliography.

Copyright © 1991 by ICOM, CRU, CAG and Jon Walker. Copyright © 1998, 2020 by Jon Walker.

Version 3.2 - Last modified 21st August 2020 to add a Creative Commons non-commercial licence since it has been brought to our attention that this copyrighted material has not only been cloned by others (which is not a problem) but also charged for on a commercial basis (which is completely unacceptable). A more completely revised version will be released in due course.