The Future Vision of IFSR

IFSR Newsletter 2005 Vol. 23 No. 1 December
The International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR) is a shared/umbrella organization of several organizations devoted to systems theory and cybernetics, which have decided to be its members from around the world. The IFSR is expected to continue to refine its resole and mission in relation the systems societies of the world.
On this basis, IFSR is expected to do what its member organizations could hardly do in separate actions. These expectations include:

  1. An unbiased co-ordination among IFSR’s member organizations concerning topics of their choice and agreement. This implies the increased connection and integration of the societies, to reduce unnecessary conflicts and duplication of efforts (for instance, in the scheduling of conferences.)
  2. Dissemination of systems ideas, both through research and publications, and through supporting the growth and development of systems organizations wherever there is a desire for the development and collaboration of systems professionals.
  3. Talking the world-level / worldwide political and NGO (Non-governmental organizations) bodies into application and promotion of systems thinking and cybernetics, be it explicit / formal or implicit /informal. IFSR is a NGO, too.
  4. Finding common denominators of systems thinking, such as:
    • Systems thinking is a way / style of thinking, decision making, and action, which is aimed at achieving the requisite holism of insight, decision, tools, and action, meaning that nothing essential may be left aside and/or forgotten; the requisite holism is made possible by a requisitely broad and creative interdisciplinary co-operation, mostly.
    • Systems theories are scientific and applied efforts concerning bases, backgrounds, methodologies, methods, and techniques of systems thinking. They have both a common ground and a number of specific features.
    • Cybernetics is an equal effort concerning making impact over life events and processes by application of systems thinking.
    • Systems thinking is applicable to every profession and every complex rather than simple topic / issue / problem, and especially to their interdisciplinary, shared work and co-operation. It tends to combine dealing with complexity and complicatedness.
  5. Promotion and research on how to increase the productivity / efficiency and effectiveness of research on and by application of systems thinking.
  6. Promotion of values expressed by ethics of interdependence of the mutually different specialists / professionals / nationals / nations / humans / components of the entire nature.
  7. Preservation of memories of past roots and developments in the area of systems theories and cybernetics.
  8. Acting as a platform / negotiator for agreement on a common terminology of systems thinking / theories and cybernetics.
  9. Honouring the outstanding scientists and practitioners in the area of systems theories and cybernetics, e.g. by establishment of the IFSR Academy of Systems Science and Cybernetics.
  10. Continuing the work by Charles François on Encyclopaedia of Systems and Cybernetics.
  11. Continuing the work on L. von Bertalanffy’s legacy.
  12. When pursuing all these activities, the role of the IFSR, however, should never be to compete with individual systems societies or organizations, but to foster the growth and mutual support between them.

The rationales for such an orientation include:

    1. The millennia of experience with a requisitely holistic thinking, decision making, and action have demonstrated that it has been leading to much more success than the one-sided one, once one deals with complex and complicated issues.
    2. The United Nations documents frequently, mostly implicitly, require humankind to use systems thinking; this is especially true of UN’s Rio Declaration on Sustainable Development, UN’s documents concerning the use of nuclear weapons, UN’s Kyoto document on climate change, UNESCO and other activities, spanning all humankind, etc.
    3. The European Union’s and other Europe-wide or even world-wide organizations’ documents frequently, even explicitly, such as the ones on promotion of innovation, entrepreneurship, total quality, and care for the humans’ natural environment, require systems thinking. Requirements include more systems thinking in education on all levels.
    4. In United Nations General Assembly, USA, through the president of USA at that time, required consideration of the fact that we all are interdependent, which is very much in line with systems thinking, as written about by L. v. Bertalanffy, and practiced in the circles of establishers of both Systems Theory and Cybernetics, decades ago and later on. They were practicing interdisciplinary creative co-operation to a large extend. They established the General Systems Theory as a new world-view to fight the current overspecialization, because it is dangerous.
    5. The same kind of practice seems to show up a lot in the foundations of the work done by the practitioners of systems thinking, although their methods have different names and specific details.
    6. The work done by application of systems thinking and cybernetics inside single traditional and new disciplines of science and practices is less based on interdisciplinarity, of course, but it still may provide a specific level of the requisite holism. By more interdisciplinary and other co-operation their achievement may become even more fruitful, as proven by he cases of the medical cybernetics, computer and other hardware and software development, etc. prove.
    7. The work done on the development of systems theories and cybernetics theories has also shown considerable interdisciplinary creative co-operation as its background, not only in the case of the General Systems Theory and First Order Cybernetics, but also in the cases of the newer concepts.
    8. Since its establishment and especially since emergence of a theory about it, the common denominator of systems thinking has always, been the fight against an exaggerated narrow specialization, because the latter tends to cause crucial oversights rather than insights, or along with them, in a best-case scenario. Holism is a precondition of survival of humankind, and specialization is unavoidable, as well. Thus, in their thinking, decision making and action, humans and their organizations have an essential need to combine / network specialization of their skills and ethics of interdependence along with their capacity of interdisciplinary creative co-operation, for their specialties to be best applied.

Matjaz MULEJ,
Vice-president of the IFSR

IFSR Newsletter 2005 Vol. 23 No. 1 December

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