The need for variety!

Expanding the diversity of response

The Law of Requisite Variety (formulated by Ross Ashby, a pioneer British cyberneticist and psychiatrist in the 1950s) states that in order to deal properly with the diversity of problems the world throws at you, you need to have a repertoire of responses which is (at least) as varied as the problems you face.

One could say that this is what 21st century skills are about, having a wider range of responses to handle the greater diversity of problems that an uncertain future throws up.

In the past, control was exercised by reducing diversity through an industrial model of education – teaching over learning, compliance over creativity, competition over collaboration.

Now we need education systems that encourage lifelong learning, creativity and collaboration. The problems that this shift will throw up – within education itself - will need responses that are at least as varied. Adults need 21st century skills just as much as our children do and need the organisational flexibility to be able to respond in the nuanced ways required.

Arthur STREETON - Butterflies and blossoms -1889.jpg

What does this mean in practical terms?  What we are seeing:

  • the belief that educator practice is never static but always evolving continues to grow and be put into practice

  • students are having a greater voice and their need to grow fully and healthily is receiving ever more attention

  • leadership is gradually becoming more empowering and less directive whilst becoming more strategic - assuring the quality of the work that is being done; attracting, developing and retaining the right staff; and, maintaining the alignment with society’s immediate and longer-term needs

A different sector but no different really from any other collective profession wanting to thrive and grow.



John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.  Earlier blogs can be found here.

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John Corrigan