an international consultant in the sciences of management (operational research
and social systems) and effective organization (cybernetics). Developmental
planning is central to his activities. He has worked so far in twenty-five countries,
and for various international agencies such as the UN, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNDP and
OECD. From 1986 to 1999 he was Chairman of Syncho, Ltd., based in the United
Kingdom, and ws the founding Chairman of Team Syntegrity International from
1992 to 1999. He is currently Managing Partner of the Complementary Set and
a Partner in Cwarel Isaf Institute.
is qualified as MBA, DSc.
is President of the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics, an international
federation of national societies, the Secretariat of which is in Paris, France.
He was named Honorary Professor of Organizational Transformation at Liverpool
John Moores University in 1990 and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1996. He currently
holds Chairs as Visiting Professor of Cybernetics in the University of Sunderland
since 1997, the Business School of the University of Northumbria since 1998
and the University of Stockholm since 1999.
in London, England, on 25th September 1926, Stafford Beer was educated at Whitgift
School and the University of London (University College), where he studied philosophy
and psychology, 1943-4. Joining the Army in the second world war, he was a gunner
in the Royal Artillery before receiving his infantry commission in
the Royal Fusiliers. He became a company commander on
transfer to the gth Gurkha Rifles, 1945, and was later Staff Captain Intelligence
in the Punjab. Returning from India on the transfer of power, in 1947, he was
appointed an Army Psychologist, again with the rank of Captain. He was Personnel
Selection Officer for the Royal Engineers, and later commanded an education
centre where he undertook operational research into psychopathology and illiteracy.
Industry and Government
Samuel Fox, alloy and stainless steel makers within United
Steel: he created and ran the Operational Research Group (first civil vintage).
He simultaneously held the management role of Production Controller. First known
European application of linear programming (to wire drawing) circa 1950. Innovation
of cybernetic models of the firm, of large scale homographic calculation, of
massed batteries of statistical quality control charts, and of manual simulation
techniques. Invention of the Stochastic Analogue Machine.
Appointed Head of Operational Research and Cybernetics
at the parent company, United Steel, he founded Cybor House in Sheffield. This
became under his leadership the world's then largest civil OR Group (with multidisciplinary
scientific staff of more than 70) operating throughout the member companies,
and deploying mobile operational research offices from five specially equipped
caravans. United Steel then included four major steelworks, and a number of
subsidiary engineering companies.
Using probably the first computer (Ferranti's Pegasus)
ever installed (1 956) uniquely for management science, the Cybor House group
was responsible for the solution of many complex problems involving production,
marketing, finance, personnel, energy, and for the unprecedented development
of simulation techniques applicable to all steelworks production. Advances were
made in the automation of control both for individual processes and for complete
plant. There was also extensive activity in applying science to policy making.
research in neurocybernetics and mathematical models of the nervous system led
to the first formulation of the Viable System Model (VSM) now in use world-wide,
and the subject of four books (qv). Several cybernetic research machines were
invented to study adaptation processes, organic homeostasis, and human learning.
These included experimental machines in which light-sensitive microorganisms
were 'trained' to solve equations. 1961-66 On behalf of Metra International
(Paris) he launched SIGMA (Science in General Management) Ltd., the first operational
research consultancy in the UK, which specialized in the application of scientific
management techniques to the problems of high-level policy formulation, strategy,
developmental planning, and the cybernetics of organization - including radical
his five year Managing Directorship, Sigma was built into a very large organization
working not only for many leading companies in the UK and for six government
departments, but also having major activities abroad (ranging from the newly
developing countries to the United States). Innovative models were created dealing
with energy (for the Gas Council), transportation (for British Rail and the
Port of London Authority), shipbuilding (for the Geddes Committee), education
(for Yugoslavia), tourism (for Israel), nationalized industry (in South America)
and distribution (for many industrial firms). Cybernetic models for organization
and corporate planning were a specially, and his personal responsibility.
As a director of Metra International, which had subsidiaries
in six countries, he fostered the amalgamation of its British interests (Sigma,
Martech, and Proplan) to form what afterwards became the Metra Consulting Group
in the United Kingdom.
Beer became Development Director of the International Publishing Corporation
client) at the personal request of the Managing Director,
and the Chairman, Cecil King.
At that time IPC was the largest publishing company in
the world, with five divisions: Newspapers (Daily Mirror, Sunday People, e.g.),
Magazines (Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Realm, e.g.), Technical (Wireless World,
Electronics Weekly and over a hundred specialist magazines), Books (the Paul
Hamlyn imprint outstandingly), Printing (again, the world's largest such enterprise).
He created the Development Division, assuming responsibility
for Research and Development into paper, ink, presses and facsimile transmission,
together with computers and market research. He inaugurated a fresh approach
to automatic typesetting (which led to the first demonstration of automated
page composition), and fostered basic research into alphabets, logic, and laser-driven
holography. Meanwhile, he carried direct responsibility for central management
services, including all computer installations around the corporation.
sixth operating division was soon created. Called New Enterprises, it housed
the emergent research
products.and company acquisitions of the electronic age
of publishing. Stafford Beer was a divisional director, Chairman of Computaprint
Ltd., and a board member of the company he created to develop tele-publishing
and tele-messaging - which he named International Data Highways. This established
in particular the Stockbroker Computer Answering Network (SCAN) which provided
perhaps the first viably commercial service offered(1966)to remote terminals.
It fed over a hundred stock broking offices around the country.
Beer withdrew from executive responsibility at IPC and reverted to consultancy
in 1970, following a boardroom disagreement about development policy. This concerned
in particular the electronic future for newspapers and the treatment of the
Unions. The New Scientist (1 5.1.70) wrote:
" It is said that he managed to deflect the course of
International Publishing Corporation - the world's largest publishing empire
- by some 90 degrees, but that even he could not shift it any further ".
Throughout these twenty years, Stafford Beer maintained
a portfolio of contracts with industry and governments on a selective international
basis. In particular, he was retained by Ernst & Whinney (now Peat Marwick
Thorne) in Canada from 1970 to 1987, on whose behalf he consulted in management
science to many of the major corprations and three provincial governments across
Canada. He was also a founding director of the British software house, Metapraxis
Ltd., from 1984 to 1987.
outstanding commission during those years came in July 1971, on the personal
invitation of the late President Salvador Allende of Chile, to develop a new
cybernetic approach to the organization and regulation of the social economy.
This project, of which Stafford Beer was Scientific Director, occupied most
of his time until the coup of 1 1 September 1973, and resulted in linking together
most of Chilean industry in a real-time computerized system, using microwave
links, automatic statistical filtration of information, and operations rooms
as ergonomically designed environments for decision. Seventy-five per cent of
nationalized industry was brought into the system in two short years; economic
information was not more than a day late, and central computers were used to
decentralize authority. The full story is told in the last five chapters of
the Second Edition (pub. John Wiley, 1981) of Brain of the Firm.
work attracted international attention, particularly in Canada and India as
well as in other LatinAmerican countries. Subsequently, therefore, Stafford
Beer undertook cognate consultancy in the Privy Council Office and several other
ministries in Ottawa, various ministries in New Delhi, and in the Presidential
Offices of Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela - answering to the president directly
in the latter two cases.
period was dominated by the research and.development that led to the invention
and marketing of the technique named Team Syntegrity. This complements the Viable
System Model with a means of harnessing the verve and creativity of the leading
spirits in a management group, according to a model based on the structure of
an icosahedron : a twenty-sided regular polyhedron. The scientific bases lie
in behavioural group theory and mathematical graph theory, and protocols for
develomental planning using the technique have been computerized and licensed
under franchise in a steadily growing number of countries. The book Beyond Dispute,
Wiley in 1994, articulates the theory and practice of the approach. Both international
consulting, for instance in Colombia, and teaching (see next section), continued,
and are continuing.
Scientific and Academic Contexts
is currently (1997-) Visiting Professor of Cybernetics at the University of
Sunderland, (1998-) in the Business School of the University of Northumbria,
(1999-) the University of Stockholm and Life Professor of Organisational Transformation
at Liverpool John Moores University where he is also an Honorary Fellow.
Societies up to 1975
of the Royal Statistical Society (industrial Relations Committee 1953-59 and
Regional Chairman); Fellow of the Royal Economic Society; Member of the Operational
Research Society (Council 1958-62, 1969-72, President 1970-71); Member of the
Operations Research Society of America and the Societe Francaise de la Recherche
Operationelle; Member of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, the Society for
Psychical Research, the Institute of Management Sciences, the New York Academy
of Sciences, the Society for General Systems Research (Governor and President
1971-72); Founder Member of the International Association for Cybernetics (1956)
and Board Member for Great Britain at various times; Council Member of the Teilhard
Centre for the Future of Man (1 975).
- recent and current
of the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics- Past President of the
Society for 1
General Systems Research (now the International Society
for the Systems Sciences) - Past President of the Operational Research Society;
quondam Trustee of the American Society for Cybernetics;
Governor of the International Council for Computer Communication
(1 973 - 1993) -, Honorary Fellow of the International Institute for Social
Invention; Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science; Fellow of the Royal
Society for Arts and Science.
of the Operational Research Advisory Panels for the British Iron and Steel Research
Association (1 956-61; Chairman of Computer Committee) and for the OECD in Paris;
Member of the British Conference on Automation and Computation (1957-60) and
of the United Kingdom Automation Council (Executive 1967-69);
of the Northern Advisory Council of the BBC (1960-61) and of the BBC General
Advisory Council (1961-69); Member of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee
(1 970-71), and several other government committees.
Beer’s major academic base was at Manchester University in the Business School,
where he was Visiting Professor of Cybernetics for twenty-four years(1969-1993).
He was also recently(199097) Research Professor of Managerial Cybernetics at
the European Business Management School in University College Swansea, and Visiting
Professor of management science at the University of Durham in the Business
School (1 990 - 1995). He is currently [1 997 - ] Visiting Professor of Cybernetics
at the University of Sunderland, and life Professor of Organizational Transformation
at Liverpool John Moores University where he is also an Honorary Fellow.
He was the first Professor of General Systems at the inception
of the Open University in Britain,
At the University of Pennsylvania in the Wharton School,
he was Adjunct Professor of Statistics and Operations Research from 1972 to
1981, and of Social Systems Sciences from 1981 to 1987. He has held visiting
professorial appointments in many other universities, including a dozen in the
United States. In 1982 he was Visiting Professor at Concordia University in
Montreal and also at the University of British Columbia. He was Distinguished
Cybernetician in Residence at the University of Toronto in the McLuhan Program
In 1990, he was Visiting Professor at the Institute of
Management at the St. Gallen Graduate School of Economics, Law, Business and
Silver Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy for Engineering Sciences
for his advancement of operational research and cybernetics
Invited Membership of the New York Academy of Sciences
for his pioneering work in science
The Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society of America for the outstanding
contribution to the literature of management science in the world (Decision
and Control, Wiley, 1966)
Resolution of the United States House of Representatives for wise and objective
counsel regarding the future of information systems
Freedom of the City of London
The McCulloch Plaque of the American Society for Cybernetics for outstanding
achievements in the field of cybernetics and management science
Life Membership Plaque of the Austrian Society for cybernetics
Norbert Weiner Gold Medal of the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics
for his services to the science of cybernetics over more than thirty years,
his contribution to its epistemology, and in particular for his pioneering development
of managerial cybernetics and its applications world-wide
Doctor of Laws honoris causa, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
Honorary Fellow of St. David's University College, University of Wales
Honorary Professor of Organizational Transformation in the School of Information
Technology at the Liverpool Polytechnic, now the Business
School of Liverpool John Moores University
Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University
Lifetime Achievement Award of the United Kingdom Systems Society For Outstanding
Contribution to Systems Thinking
Dr. oec hc (Doctor of Economic Sciences honoris causa) University of St. Gallen,
For his pioneering work in Management Cybernetics which
has stimulated thought on management in
many ways and had a decisive influence on the St. Gallen
systems approach to management.
many published addresses, the following 'name'lectures are recorded: the Bray
Memorial Lecture in 1956 for the Institute of Production Engineers; the Inaugural
Lectures for the Systems Research Centre in Cleveland in 1960, and for the Danish
Automation Year in Copenhagen in 1966; in 1964 the Stephenson lecture for Newcastle
University; the Eighth United Kingdom Automation Lecture in London, also
Distinguished Lectures for the Institute of Management Science at New York in
1969; in 1970, an address to the US House of Representatives, the Keynote Address
to the Washington Conference on
Ecological Systems, and the Frank Newsome Memorial Lecture
for the Home Office UK; in 1972 the International Computers Ltd. Lecture for
the University of Wales- in 1973 the Richard Goodman Memorial Lecture at Brighton
Polytechnic, and the Massey Lectur@s Designing Freedom for the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation; in 1974 the Keynote address to the European Conference on Cybernetics
in Vienna Recursions of Power, the Keynote Address to the National Conference
of the Canadian OR Society, and the Zaheer Lecture for the government of India,
in Delhi; in 1975 the lrvine Memorial Lecture for the University of St. Andrews,
Scotland Laws of Anarchy in
1980 Said You Are Gods, the Third Annual Teilhard Lecture; in 1981 the Eighth
von Bertalanffy Memorial Lecture Death is Equirinal; in 1982, the Lindsey Sutcliffe
Lecture for Middlesex Polytechnic The Will of the People, and an address for
Mankind 2000 in lsreal; in 1983 the Keynote Address for the American Society
for Cybernetics in California-, in 1984 the Keynote Address for the European
Cybernetics Congress; in 1986 the Inaugural Address for Toronto 2000, the Inaugural
Speech for the Stafford Beer Foundation, the Keynote Address for the World Futures
Conference in New York, and another for the Canadian Couchiching Conference
on The Future of Work; in 1987, Organizees Introduction to the Premier's Conference
on the Future of Ontario, Keynote speeches on the Future of Wales for the Joint
Meeting of the Welsh Development Agency and the Government of Ontario, to the
Canadian Institute of Planners, and to the Triennial Congress
of the World Organization for Systems and
Cybernetics Holism and the Frou-Frou Slander; in 1988,
Keynote Speeches for the American Association for Quality Assurance in Health,
for the Canadian response to the Brundtiand Report, and the Convocation Address
at Concordia University; in 1989, keynote addresses to the Conference on Peace
Initiatives in Toronto, and the International Conference on Operations Research
and the Social Sciences in Cambridge England; in 1990, the Keynote addresses
for the Canadian Industrial Innovation Centre, and the International Symposium
on Systems in Mexico, also the Lecture in Peace Studies at University College
Toronto; in 1990 On Suicidal Rabbits, Plenary Address to conference at the Wharton
School, Pennsylvania; in 1993 the Presidential Address in New Delhi to the Triennial
Congress of the World Organization for Systems and Cybernetics The World in
Torment; in 1994 the Falcondale Lectures for Liverpool John Moores University
(videotape); in 1995 two plenary addresses for the Conference on Circular Causality
of the American Society for Cybernetics in Chicago; in 1996 an inaugural address
for a new government initiative in Colombia, and an allocution to mark his Seventieth
Anniversary The Culpabliss Error, delivered at Liverpool John Moores University,
England, and at the University of Lulea, Sweden.
of more than two hundred publications. including the books:
- Cybernetics and Management; English Universities Press, London. John Wiley,
New York. Reprinted
1965, New Edition (with new Chapter) 1967, reprinted 1970,1971,1973 etc. Translated
into Spanish, Russian, German, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, French,
- Decision and Control: The meaning of Operational Research and Management
Cybernetics. John Wiley, reprinted 1967, 70,71, 74, 78,
79, 88. (Awarded Lanchester Prize).
Translated into Spanish. 1994 - paperback.
- Management Science: The Business Use of Operational Research, Aidous Books
USA, hardcover and paperback. Translated into German,
French, Swedish, Japanese, Finish, Dutch and
- Brain of the Firm: Allan Lane the Penguin Press, London; Herder and Herder,
into German, Italian, Swedish and French.
- Designing Freedom: CBC Learning Systems, Toronto, 1974, and John Wiley, London
York 1975. Translated into Spanish and Japanese.
- Platform for Change: John Wiley, London and New York. Reprinted 1978, etc.
- Transit: Poems, CWRW Press, Wales.
- The Heart of Enterprize: John Wiley, London and New York. Reprinted with corrections
- Brain of the Firm: 2nd Edition (much extended). John Wiley, London and New
Reprinted 1986, 1988. Translated into Russian. 1994 -
- Transit: poems, Second Edition (much extended). With two audio cassettes
Transit - Selected Readings and One Person Metagame ;
Mitchell Communications, Canada
- Diagnosing the System for Organizations: John Wiley, London and New York.
Translated into Italian and Japanese. 1994 - paperback
- Pebbles to Computers: the Thread (with Hans Blohm) Oxford University Press,Toronto.
- Beyond Dispute : The Invention of Team Syntegrity, John Wiley, Chichester
and New York.
- How Many Grapes Went Into The Wine : Stafford Beer on the Art and Science
Management : Eds Roger Harnden and Allenna Leonard
- The Viable System Model: Interpretations and Applications of Stafford Beer's
Espejo and Roger Harndon, Eds. John Wiley, Chichester,
New York, Toronto. There are chapters in more than twenty other books, audio
and televisual products, and some two hundred papers
and articles, notably the preface to Autopoesis and Cognition:
by Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela. Riedel Publishing, 1980.
Beer was twice married, and has eight children. His partner is Allenna Leonard.
Lifetime interests beyond the fields of philosophy, science
and management include the classical languages Latin, Greek and Sanskrit, and
the practice and teaching of Yoga (not hathayoga or trancendental meditation).
His poetry has been published in book form, and a few exhibitions of his paintings
have been held. In particular, his Requiem meditation, consisting of nine large
interactive oil paintings, was installed in an apse of the Metropolitan Cathedral
of Christ the King in Liverpool, and exhibited there in 1992 and 1993. In the
fifties and sixties he broadcast frequently on radio and television, but rarely
does so now uniess'live'.
1974, having renounced material possessions, Stafford Beer moved his base to
a small stone cottage
in the remote hills of Ceredigion in mid-Wales. He lived
there alone in simple style for the next ten years
- despite some inevitable foreign travel (his Who's Who
recreation is given as'staying put'). Now he also
has a base in Toronto where much of his work is located.
He divides his time between the two places.
Página Web Personal del Dr. Stafford Beer
Lianbedr Pont Steffan
Ceredigion SA48 8PG
34 Paimerston Square
Ontario M6G 2S7
Telephone and FAX: 416-535-0396
Monday, 10 July 2000