Stability, equilibrium or homeostasis are dynamic processes which form the basis of sustainability. This stability cannot be compared with the stability of a chair or table, for example. The stability of a living system is a continuous process of balancing between order and entropy (disorder) using all the available information by interaction between all the parts of a system. Natural systems like humans, animals, flowers or plants and the organisations we create should always be maintained in a state of equilibrium with the environment in order to keep functioning. This is an ongoing process of communication.

Life or living systems (Capra, Bateson) depend on the criteria needed for survival; for example health, a non-polluted environment, social safety, or biological and ecological balance. According to Maturana and Varela’s Santiago’s Theory of Cognition, life is autopoietic, which means that it creates, maintains and sustains itself through communication (cognition) with the environment. The maintenance of life therefore depends on the availability of creative conditions.

StabilityLet’s look at feedback loops. There are information carriers of amplifying nature, which we call ‘positive feedback loops’ and information carriers of dampening nature or corrective information which we call ‘negative feedback loops’. We can say that living is a continued learning and adaptation process.

Let’s fast forward this to organisations, businesses, industrial production or political processes. Organisations often seem to ignore information which contradicts purpose, while only accepting the information that confirms it. When we see organisations as living, social systems of communication (Luhmann), we intuitively understand that stability and sustainability can only be achieved by using positive – and negative feedback in a balanced order. Communication or the constant gathering and sharing of (new) information creates the very basis for steering, maximum control and predictability. A continuous learning process is the basis for long term continuity. This fact confirms value-driven business ethics and corporate social responsibility as unavoidable feedback which, along with all other information, needs to be considered to maintain stability.

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