An International Conference connecting Systems Theory, Health and Organisation


“Healing Organisations” is the
topic of the 2017 Metaphorum
conference.  The conference is being held in conjunction with key representatives from the international Healthcare sector, and represents an opportunity to connect the theoretical concepts of Management Cybernetics and other Systemic Approaches with the practical realities of Healthcare organisation. Equally, the conference will explore the wider connotations of organisational health and viability in institutions, businesses and government.

Against the backdrop of continued austerity in VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environments, many businesses, and most national institutions of health, welfare and education are struggling to cope with limited resources and increasing complexity. Is the hope for viability naive? Are institutions condemned to muddle through every year, threatened by increasing environmental complexity, lack of resource, political interference, and managerial pathology? Where will it lead? How might cybernetics, as the science of “effective organisation” help?

The Metaphorum Group researches cybernetic approaches to organisation, including those of Stafford Beer, Enid Mumford, Frederic Vester, amongst others. Stafford Beer’s contributions to cybernetics and effective organisation included modelling a generic “Viable System” which he systematically applied to businesses, institutions and government. The model was based on the human body.

The human body has the capacity to heal itself, to remain resilient in the face of extreme adversity and to reshape its environment. Our institutions – particularly those of health and welfare – appear also to display many of these qualities, yet the dynamic mechanisms of healing are poorly understood.

The question which this conference addresses is how systems theoretical insights into healing can help institutions to reconfigure their organisation and reshape their environment so that organisational pathologies might be mitigated.