Email: [email protected]

Jon Li (born Jon Lippencot) ran for a seat at the Davis City Council in 2010, but was defeated in the June 8, 2010 Election after coming in fourth place. He has been involved in Davis life since 1966 when he came to UC Davis as a freshman with his bicycle. He is a "public policy analyst," focusing on California state and local governance and economics . His Campaign Statement is available on the wiki.

Jon's campaign is to bring the concepts of "policy governance" and the "viable system model" into the local political debate. To find out more about policy governance, go to the designer's site,

The driving force of Jon's campaign has been to develop a paper called "A System That Works:Building a decentralized Global Political Economy using the Viable System Model." The idea is to build a dynamic bio-social model of Davis, in the present future, for fact-defining, public debate, policy decision making and regulation.

The information focuses on applying the Viable System Model to the current world of Davis. Below is a report of the city of St. Veit in Austria that did the exact same process last December: How VSM might play out in Davis (part 1), a capsule on how to apply VSM to a business, and a game plan for applying the VSM to the City of Davis (part 2). Then there is a group of references about VSM.

Davis sustainability: applying the Viable Systems Model to:
economic, fiscal & carbon footprint challenges

The Viable System Model is a method of analysis, specifically suited to diagnose and improve communication and decision making. The big picture is to balance current activity with future potential in a changing environment. The VSM provides a graphic to custom describe how you see an organization functioning, which you can then debate, and correct. In the dialogue about improving the graphic, you learn how other people perceive the current problems, and the options available at this time and perhaps in the future.

How VSM might play out in Davis (part 1)

As reported in the General Systems Bulletin, Volume 39, 2010: “On December 2nd to 5th, 2009, Malik Management conducted a Syntegration for the future of the city of St. Veit, Carinthia, Austria. Without exception, all the city’s influential people participated. The Syntegration was combined with a VSM diagnosis, a Sensitivity Model for each of the twelve subtopics, a kick-off to a local Ecopolicyade to educate the city’s young, and launch an Academy for Entrepreneurs – all of which was done simultaneously. The Syntegration resulted in 120 daily measures for the sustainable, successful and, in energy matters, self-sustaining development of the city. It also resulted in the conviction of all the participants to have found the key to the future. Implementation started immediately and is ongoing”.

Applying VSM to a business

VSM was designed to improve a business. William Christopher, in Holistic Management: “How can all company actions be coordinated and motivated to achieve success in creating and keeping customers? VSM can help. To achieve the company’s targeted goals requires excellence in all of Peter Drucker’s key performance areas: creating and keeping customers, quality and productivity, innovation, organization capability, physical and financial resources, public and environmental responsibility, and profitability. Plus, excellence in using VSM communication channels internally for managing operations, and externally for customer service, and for dealing with constraints and threats, and discovering opportunities in environmental change. VSM doesn’t so much change the company as change the way people think about the company”.

How VSM might play out in Davis (part 2)

1. City Manager designs a process for council and staff management of a staff VSM process, 7/10 2. The Davis City Council decides to implement the VSM, 7/10 3. City staff reads Jon Walker’s “Guide to VSM,” Allenna Leonard’s “Personal VSM,” and Stafford Beer’s “How to Run a Country” (most of which is in this paper) 4. Structured discussion within each city department about what VSM might look like in their department, within preliminary City model initially presented by the City Manager, 8/10 5. City Manager presents staff findings 9/10 6. Public reaction for three months 7. in January, Jon Walker and Angela Espinosa come to Davis for a week of public workshops in the evenings and city staff workshops in the afternoons. Angela and Jon arrive on a Monday, address the City Council on Tuesday for a half hour of question and answer, lead a scheduled workshop for the Planning Commission on Wednesday, and then focused public workshops at the Veteran’s Memorial Center Multi-Purpose Room, Thursday evening, Saturday afternoon, and Monday evening, with the material evolving with each workshop. On Tuesday, present the results to the Davis City Council 8. which are recommendations for inquiry and potential reorganization of the city government, and potential changes to the city’s economy. 9. These changes might well include a policy governance alternative to the current state mandated general plan, a 3-5 page document of specific performance standards to replace the hundreds of pages of city general plan regulations. 10. And, becoming a charter city with its own, limited governing document to replace most state regulations.

Global Transformation: Other jurisdictions, at all levels of government up to and including the United Nations need to shift into the 21st century. Replace useless regulations with 8-12 key daily statistics, and eliminate the need for half the bureaucracy. VSM can help you do it. This is from ISSS President-elect Allenna Leonard’s incoming speech, “Advancing Viable Governance”: “I would suggest that the Viable System Model could again be applied to monitor and report on the management of critical variables in the social economy and the natural environment. We might ask what measures would be analogous to temperature and blood pressure in the human body that would provide requisite variety? Such a VSM would not arrive full-blown, but it could be outlined and made widely available even at an early stage of development. A Syntegration – in other words, a planning process that’s designed to bring requisite variety to bear on a question – or other group process – could set the stage.

“It might well be possible to put up qualitative if not quantitative flow charts to identify indices to populate a basic Viable System Model for each community at several levels of recursion. People or groups could be invited to fill in the blanks describing the current state of affairs as they know them. Members of the public could contribute their local knowledge, ask questions, identify anomalies – or simply add their perspectives.

“Since the VSM typically identifies around ten indices per recursion, the design requires hard thinking but running it is easier. A key is to think in real time”.

Viable System Model

2010 Election

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2013-07-31 11:05:39   I'd really appreciate a way to contact Jon Li, the e-mail shown above is not working... —GracePrincen