Cybernetics and Systems Science regard society, organisms and ecologies as complex systems, having multi-dimensional networks of information systems known as ‘cybernetic systems’. Norbert Wiener’s work on cybernetics which he initially conceived as ‘communication and control’ has become relevant in this vastly expanded complexity, as an approach to meet the challenges developed by perennially occurring perturbations in the ecosystem.
The need is to understand the complex interconnectedness and wiring between social issues, management technology and aspects of the ecosystem. Cybernetics has therefore become highly relevant to our work in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). TCS has found relevance in Norbert Wiener’s theory of cybernetics for business organizations.
TCS’ approach to problem solving and providing sustainable solutions to its clients is based on finding holistic solutions. We use the various qualities that systems exhibit. Research has built numerous methods and models. The approaches are guided by principles of holistic systems such as:
- In any system, the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
- A system acts as a whole.
- Only variety can deal with variety and in holistic solutions the variety of the interacting systems is matched.
- Problems are always holistic but solutions are as holistic as they are defined to be.
When one understands things holistically, the future of humanity depends on the sustainability of a complex system involving three interdependent, highly fragile sub-systems: the natural environment, the social/political system, and the global economy.
Any ‘Responsible Business’ should be equipped to think of these aspects and work towards sustainability. The very survival of a business organization hinges on this way of thinking; it can bring the needed efficiency and effectiveness to a firm’s operations.
This is easier said than done. The bed rock for all these actions are values that the firm internalizes and that shape its attitude, behavior, and thinking into the daily routines of people. “Thus ingraining values that promote overall excellence and well-being ensure that an organization is able to sustain the creation and delivery of value”.
By adopting Values to Value® as a working framework and philosophy to design the offerings that interest the clients, organizations stand to gain in excellence. The second term in the above working philosophy, value’, refers to the stakeholder value that should result holistically.
A key component in problem solving is to understand the problem from different perspectives. Learning takes place by designing the solution with this understanding and performing as per the design.
Excerpted from the author’s blog for IEEE conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century