Creating living strategies in a complex world: Implementing cybernetics to create the social capital needed for sustainable success.

Stephen J Brewis
Steve Cassidy
23 January 2017

In a fast-moving and complex world we need to make speedy decisions involving a large number of business perspectives. We need to co-ordinate a large number of activities to deliver on those decisions. We need all these elements to be bound by a common purpose, to ensure the buy-in of all those involved. Rather than, as in the past, sticking rigidly to “strategic” plans defined at the start of a programme, we need the plan to flex continuously in the light of evolving circumstances – under a more stable held purpose. This requires us to combine concepts of human and social capital with cybernetic principles to co-evolve the organisation.
We present work on a massive and complex change programme, where we have co-evolved the team and complex decision tools to create a smart and sustainable balance between costs, customer service, employee engagement, and corporate & social responsibility (CSR).

Stephen Brewis is a Chartered Engineer and a Chief Research Scientist in the ‘Future Organisation’ research practice where he is currently leading on the closure plans for BT’s TDM Network. He has authored many publications and reviewed several books within his field of Management Cybernetics. He is a Research Fellow at the Manchester Business School and a member of the Computer Science Industry Steering Board at Herriot Watt University, Scotland. Stephen is also a conference organiser and regularly gets asked to speak at conferences as well as giving many talks on his subject at top universities including the Judge Business School at Cambridge University and the Sloane Business School at MIT. He provides thought leadership on Management Problems supporting senior operations managers within BT. His current research interest is the organisational move from human capital to social equity using ideas from brain science and biological Stigmergy.

Stephen Cassidy MA MInstP CEng FIET, Chief Researcher, Systems Science, BT Group is leading a strategic research programme on how organisations will transform in the future, taking account the impacts of technology on industry structure and working practices. This combines computer-based modelling and decision support with the human aspects of culture and organisational structure to optimise key behaviours of the organisation as a whole. Having started his career in optical communications, he has published around 60 papers and 4 book chapters on optical technology and organisational modelling, and holds nearly 60 patents. He is an Advisory Board Member of the Cambridge University Arts and Humanities Doctoral Training Partnership.