Variety, innovation and readiness for change in organizations

Christine Welch, Tammi Sinha, Chris Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper considers organizations as dynamic open systems, seeking to maintain viable relationships with their environments. It recognizes the endemic nature of change and how modern organizations must respond by innovating in order to remain sustainable and progress, and must promote a culture of readiness. The possible tension between continuous improvement for efficiency in processes and a holistic perspective for innovation is noted, taking into account a need to capture contextual knowledge from all levels in the business. The authors suggest that the Viable Systems Model (Beer, 1985) may be a useful tool for reflection on design of effective management in a balanced and flexible organization. This model attempts to balance variety between organizations and their environments, and between operational units and management, through recursive levels of autonomy.
Keywords: Viable Systems; Requisite Variety; Innovation; Business Process Improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number41 (1)
Pages (from-to)133-156
Number of pages23
JournalThe Systemist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


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