Well-functioning organizations are truly fascinating. When everything is running smoothly, they resemble living organisms. However, a lot of large companies, SMEs, public and private institutions, as well as national and international organizations are a long way from achieving this ideal. They plod along, wasting valuable management capacities to compensate for organizational shortcomings, thus squandering resources and energy, and risking their very existence.

The Neurology of Business places the key to effective organizational solutions and outcomes in your hands

The Neurology of Business

Our work at the Fondation Oroborus is based on cybernetics, the science of functioning. The scientific foundation was laid in the 1950s by a group of researchers led by Professor Norbert Wiener. The basic rules of cybernetics draw on and combine the insights of different fields such as mathematics, engineering, architecture, physics or biology. Recognized in all of these fields, these rules control the function of every viable organism.

Norbert Wiener

Professor Stafford Beer harnessed cybernetic principles to serve management purposes – whether for the benefit of family business and large corporations, or state and not-for-profit institutions, in short: for all types of purpose-oriented organizations. Beer defined it as the “Viable System Model,” “Syntegration,” and the “Operations Room.” The Fondation Oroborus has developed Beer’s methods further to establish the neurology of business.

Stafford Beer

For Success

Nowadays, companies and organizations must be able to master increasingly complex challenges, for example:

  • (Re)establish controllability
  • Company mergers
  • Open up new markets
  • Increase productivity and lower costs
  • Create and implement innovations
  • Develop effective strategies

The Fondation Oroboros has the methods and resources needed to enable today’s organizations to address and meet the challenges of the 21st century. We provide robust action plans based on 30 years of experience.

Our methods and instruments are based on science and practical experience. In addition, we benefit from the support of the Fondation Oroborus , a highly recognized organization with an excellent infrastructure.

Over the last thirty years, we have analyzed hundreds of companies and organizations, large and small, national and international, in Europe, America, and Asia — and have made them fit for the future. Our track record can be measured by the success of these organizations.

Martin Pfiffner

Martin Pfiffner *1965 and lives in Pfäffikon (ZH). He is married and has a daughter. In the 1990s, he studied economics at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and earned his doctorate. At the time, he served as an assistant to professors Peter Gross (sociology, multi-option society) and Fredmund Malik (systems-oriented management theory). Later he studied in Canada and in Wales with Professor Stafford Beer, the pioneer of management-cybernetics.

Pfiffner is one of the world’s leading experts on the practical implementation of the Viable System Model and Syntegration. Over the last thirty years, he has advised numerous economic, public, and private entities across the world, helping them get back on track and achieve success. His work centers on “The third dimension of organization,” which he defines as the neurology of an organization. His most recent book is The Neurology of Business: Implementing the Viable System Model (2022). Pfiffner argues that this neurology, rather than organization charts or business processes, determines whether a company is viable.

Martin Pfiffner

Until recently, Pfiffner managed Team Syntegrity Europe AG. He was head of the innovation group “Management Cybernetics & Bionics Division” at the Management Center St. Gallen and also responsible for developing management bionics. He is a founding member and curator of the International Bionic Center IBZ in Munich. He also initiated the Cwarel-Isaf-Conferences for management cyberneticists from all over the world.

For many years, he lectured at the University of St.Gallen (HSG), sharing his knowledge of applied management cybernetics. Between 2011 and 2016, he served on the board of the Swiss Society for Organization and Management. He is a Fellow of the Cybernetic Society England (CybSoc), a member of the International Society for System Sciences (ISSS), and an active member of Metaphorum, a society dedicated to studying the life and work of Stafford Beer. In 2017, together with several friends, he launched the Fondation Oroborus to promote management cybernetics.

Book Order

Click here to order The Neurology of Business (2022)

The Book
This groundbreaking study describes the neurology of a business as a new dimension of organization and as a basis for success in a complex world. Comparing organizations with living organisms, it places an organization’s neurology (control and communication) as a third dimension beside its anatomy (structure) and physiology (process). Overlooked by classical organizational theory, this third dimension offsets its typical drawbacks.

The Neurology of Business introduces Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model (VSM) and shows how this systematic approach helps managers to diagnose, discover, and unleash the potential and performance lying dormant in today’s enterprises.

The book is based on numerous consulting projects and management seminars conducted in Europe, America, and Asia. It guides the reader through the diagnosis and design process and illustrates application issues with practical examples. In this way, it provides managers with the language needed to have meaningful conversations about how their organizations are functioning. As such, it will benefit managers in business and nonbusiness organizations, as well as readers interested in general management.

  • Provides compact knowledge about how best to diagnose and design the organization 4.0
  • Illustrates the application of the Viable System Model with many practical examples
  • Solves practical, yet hitherto unaddressed application issues

Dr. oec. HSG Martin Pfiffner is an expert in the fields of organization and structures. For over 30 years, he has worked as a lecturer, trainer, and advisor for organizations in the business and nonbusiness sectors. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Fondation Oroborus, which promotes the application of the Viable System Model to ensure companies’ success.


    *Mandatory fields