The law of requisite variety (R. Dilts)
In order to successfully adapt, achieve or survive, a member of a system requires a minimum amount of flexibility. That amount of flexibility has to be proportional to the variety that member must content with the rest of the system.
How to deal with VARIETY:
1 attenuate it (reduce) 2 absorbe it (regulate) Ex. A shoe store opens and becomes successfull, too successfull…and the owner has to decide 1- specialize, thus reducing the cutomers’ variety 2- increase salespeople, thus absorbing customers’ variety
-Variety increase equals growth and growth means more costs…
-Variety decrease equals reduction of customers and of potential sales…
Downsizing and requisite variety
Requisite variety is the limiting condition of downsizing…the degree of variety necessary to perfom all the functions and handle the conditions that are necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
Optimum use of resources (present) + fitness for the future (remember the Irish famine and the optimization of short-term results – growing only most productive potatos)
System variety and Regulatory variety (internal) need to keep pace
ex. cancer kills us not because its cells are stronger, but because we lack the requisite variability needed to regulate it. Cancer has a degree of variation and adaptability our cells are incapable of “absorbing” . Thus therapy might be more effective if worked on increase of regulatory variety instead than strength of treatment (which might simply kill our good cells) —> we often attack the problem, rather than encourage the natural predators
Implication of the Law of Requisite Variety: increase the number of options
If you want to consistently get to a particular goal state, you have to increase the number of options available for reaching that goal in proportion to potential variability of the system –> explore new possibilities and don’t stick to what you have always done. Corollary corollary: if you keep doing what you have always done you will not always get whay you have always got because everybody is affected by a system changes
Aligning flexibility and consistency: heading towards a paradox?
Systems require stability and homeostasis to survive, and consistency is an important property of all successfull organisms.
How can we both flexible and consistent at the same time? The answer has to do with where we require the flexibility in a system: not every interaction in a system occurs on the same level.
Where you need to be flexible is determined by where you are committed to be inflexible –> if the goal is consistent (unchanged) you need to change your behaviour (the how must be flexible) to achieve your output.
Requisite variety is also needed to resist change (es cells and cancer)
The more diversity is included, the more regulatory variety is required to achive positive outcomes. The more different opionions and backgrounds that the memebr of a team bring to the group, the more skills, vision, creativity, flexibility will be required from the team leader–> to stay vital and maintain a sense of identity, social and cultural richness need to be offset by regulatory richness and stability.
Social variety can never be attenuated (ex totalitarisms); attenuating pushes variety somewhere else or causes it to remain latent in the population.
Freedom and power
The law of requisite variety is linked to the truisms that “having the choice is always better than not having it”
Freedom relates to system variety, while Power relates to regulatory variety. The most powerful organization or the freest individual is the one who has the more alternative responses and the intelligence and wisdom to utilize those choices.
In many dynamic systems all of the parts carry their own source of energy. This makes the system much more complex because energy doesn’t flow thru the system in a fixed mechanical way- (Bateson) If you kick a ball you can predict with a fair degree of accuracy where it will end up. If you kick a dog, any other characteristics being unchanged, it will be much more difficult because of its collateral energy