AiC’s Entry

A new Cybernetic Organization for the American Society of Cybernetics

Cybernetics of Cybernetics Competition

A new Cybernetic Organization for the American Society of Cybernetics

The paper proposes a transition of the organization of the (American Society of Cybernetics (ASC) to a continually learning cybernetic organization. The transition consists of five phases:

1.An initiation phase to form a reorganization committee to carry out phases (2) to (4).
2.An evaluation phase to determine what has been achieved by the ASC so far.
3.A conceptualization phase to seek new inputs for further improving these achievements.
4.A reorganization phase to give the organization new objectives and a new organizational structure.
5.A business phase to realize the new objectives and the organizational structure with executive organs and task committees elected for certain election periods.
This phase lasts a few election periods, before a new initiation phase is started.

In the following for each phase the main points are elaborated, i.e. what has to be addressed and how it can be organized.

1.Initiation Phase

For the phases (2) to (4) a reorganization committee has to be formed. It should include the directors and board members and a number of volunteers from the society, in total about 15 to 20 persons.
Ideally it should invite non-members interested in cybernetics (particularly form other scientific organizations related to cybernetics and systems science) to give inputs and / or it should prepare a web portal to enable the input of the opinion of all ASC members.
Objective is to get the widest view possible on the previous achievements of the society and what it should aim at in the future.

2.Evaluation Phase

First activity of this reorganization committee (and invited non-members and / or all members) is a close look at the objectives and achievements of the society. Currently the committee would have to start with the evaluation of what has been achieved in relation to article 2 of the by-laws (the ‘Constitution’) of the ASC, particularly concerning

(1)the advancement of cybernetics and
(2)the promotion of cybernetics and

all the related sub-points named in article 2.
Result of this first step is a profile of the previous achievements the ASC.
This phase closes a feedback loop on the previous long-term performance of the society.

3.Conceptualization Phase

Second activity of the reorganization committee is to forward the results of this evaluation to all members of the society and ideally to non-members interested in cybernetics, too, via internet networks.
Additionally structured questionnaire should be prepared to provide a base for comments on these achievements. Based on that members and non-members can be invited to comment

(1)how far the achieved results are to be considered as successes or deficits;
(2)which activities might be appropriate to overcome deficits;
(3)which activities might be additionally necessary for an up-to-date cybernetics society;
(4)and finally which new objectives should be derived form that for the ASC.

Results of the second step are inputs for the reformulation of the objectives of the society and the reorganization of its activities.
This phase opens a feedforward loop on the long-term performance of the society.

4.Reorganization Phase

Third activity of this reorganization committee (and invited non-members and / or all members) is to order and prioritize the inputs of phase 3 to propose a new organization of the society. This has to include:

(1)A new formulation of the general objectives of the society;
(2)A formulation of particular objectives for its activities in a long-term period (e.g. 4 to 8 years) to continuously ensure previous successes and to cover previous deficits as well as new fields;
(3)A plan for the reorganization of the society with executive organs to pursue the general objectives and task committees to realize the particular objectives;
(4)A commitment for future executives and committee members to provide short-term planning for their election periods (e.g. 2 years) as outlined below;
(5)An internal evaluation of the achievements of executives and committee members before the end of their election periods (e.g. after 2 years).
(6)When a next initiation phase (e.g. after 2 to 4 election periods, i.e. 4 to 8 years) should be started.

Finally these proposals have to be accepted in a procedure according to the current by-laws of the Society (e.g. via electronic voting or in a General Business Meeting).
Forth and last activity of the reorganization committee is to initiate the realization of these proposals by preparing the elections of the members of the executive organs and committees (e.g. via internet or in a General Business Meeting).

5.Business Phase

The business phase consists of a few election periods (e.g. 2 to 4 periods, each lasting e.g. 2 years) to realize the new objectives and the new organization, before a new initiation phase starts a new long-term cycle.
In every election period the following activities have to be carried out:

(1)Executive members have to be elected; they have to form the executive organs to pursue the general objectives.
(2)Accordingly members of task committees have to be elected, to form committees for realizing all the particular objectives, i.e. to maintain previous achievements, to cover previous deficits and to address new fields;
(3)Executives and committee members are committed to provide brief, but crisp and clear cut short-term plans what they want to achieve in their respective fields within their election period.
These short-term plans have to include a brief consideration of the status quo, a review of means to move something (persons actively involved, financial means, etc.), a plan for activities to be carried out and realistic objectives for feasible achievement within the election period.
This opens a feedforward loop on the short-term performance of the society.
(4)Before the end of each election period an internal evaluation determines the achievements of executives and committee members in relation to their respective objectives (e.g. via electronic surveys).
This provides the base to evaluate the results of all elected persons as well as their overall achievements.
So this closes a feedback loop on the short-term performance of the society. And this evaluation determines the starting conditions for the next election period and is the base to set new priorities.

These short-term election periods may be repeated till a new initiation phase starts a new long-term cycle as planned before. Only in case of severe unexpected changes a new initiation phase may be started earlier, on request of executives or members.

6.Summary

The proposed cybernetic organization model works with:

(1)A few short-term control loops working with internal planning and internal evaluation of achievements.
Each short-term loop lasts for one election period of executives and committee members. A duration of 2 years might be a good time scale for a period.
(2)These short-term loops are contained in long-term control loops working with the widest possible scope of internal and external planning as well as internal and external evaluation of achievements.
Each long-term loop lasts for 2 to 4 election periods. So an overall duration of 4 to 8 years might be a good time scale for them.

The overall concept ensures:

(1)The Society opens and adjusts its long-term objectives to demands of the interested scientific community;
(2)The Society adapts its long-term performance to these objectives;
(3)The Society pursues only short-term activities focused on a long-term horizon;
(4)The Society evaluates and adjusts these activities within reasonable periods.
(5)The whole process remains open to future change and to the integration of newly emerging fields and demands.

Author is elegible for HvF Prize (aged under 35): NO

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