Which world do you live in?

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readMay 24, 2021

There are ‘five worlds’ in any service, especially #publicservices, or #systemschange

A simplification that can help understanding, from a small service to a whole place-based system

In citizen (customer) world, we live our lives, trying to achieve our purposes. We prefer to get on with things ourselves; sometimes we need help, sometimes we even create demand for a service.

In #service world, we have to adapt and respond to all the #complexity coming from citizen world; pragmatism is needed

In #management world, we have to help service world work more-or-less logically as an #organisation

In #leadership world, we set the overall culture and purpose

And, sometimes, we’re all in the world of learning and change; learning from now, anticipating the future, learning either way.

Each world speaks a very different language, experiences ‘their part of the elephant’ very differently.

Understanding this, and linking the worlds better, is the first insight.

The second is that we are all citizens or customers; all these worlds are part of citizen world. It’s Asset-Based Community Development, it’s democracy.

The third is that we are all learning all the time, in all the worlds.

What do you see about your service using the lens of the ‘five worlds’?

This formulation is inspired by the viable systems model, though it grew from a ‘three worlds’ model I developed back in about 2003, partly inspired by the standard Vanguard Consulting speech. It was then informed by Barry Oshry’s power+systems model and the Viable Systems Model itself, and came together in a prototype form in early slides for the Cabinet Office Commissioning Academy, and was significantly advanced by collaboration with these good folks on a RedQuadrant bid in 2016: Jane Searles, Rob Worth, Arthur Battram, Philip Hellyer, Pauline Roberts, and Russell Gundry.