President’s Series: The Church, Organisational Development and Cybernetics


Hosted by our President, Dr. John Beckford FCybS, the CybSights President's Series is a new programme that will bring interesting people together to explore the relevance and contribution of cybernetics to addressing important challenges.

Each event will consist of contributions by two different speakers. Each will be followed by individual Q&A. These are then brought together by the President in a lively and engaging plenary discussion. Each will seek areas of convergence and divergence between the ideas explored. Speakers present their own views, without formal endorsement.

Events will be held via Zoom on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 1700 to 1900.

Meetings are open to members of the Cybernetics Society and also the general public. Non-members are invited to join or give a donation. Booking is required.

The Cybernetics Society has been hosting conversations and lectures since the late 1960s.

#PS8 : May 12th 2021: Cybernetics and The Church of England and Organisational Development

This event continues the exploration of the relevance of cybernetics to the contemporary world with contributions both theoretically practical and practically theoretical. The purpose of this series is not just to provide answers but to test whether the right questions are being asked.


Cybernetics and the Church


No institution has done more to shape our society than the Church of England. Yet, along with most churches, the Church of England has experienced significant decline by most available measures over the last sixty years. The national church has recently responded with a national programme for “church growth”. At the local level ministers are increasingly required to take on “leadership” roles that do not sit easily with traditional notions of priesthood – and do it with fewer resources. Might a cybernetic approach help make sense of this and create a more integrated – and effective – approach?

Rev. Keith Elford MA (Cantab) FRSA

Keith Elford is, in no particular order, a consultant working with organisations and individuals in private, public and 3rd sector organisatons, a PhD student exploring whether the Church of England is an organisation and, if it is, how it might be managed, a priest in the Church of England, an author and an itinerant rocker.

Followed by brief Q & A

SECOND SPEAKER: Matthew Beckford, BA, MSc, ACC

Cybernetics and Organisational Development


Two forgotten and maligned fields? The 'REAL' answers to organisational problems? Academic snobbery with no real world application? Badly marketed genius?

Cybernetics and Organizational Development are both fields with fierce, evangelical practitioners who frequently can't even agree on what their 'thing' is, let alone explain it to those who might find it useful.

In the age of instant gratification, management fads, snake oil consultants, and Agile working. What can these fields learn from each other to contribute to the success of organizational life in 2021?

Matthew Beckford

Matthew Beckford is a facilitator, consultant and coach. Currently working in the Diversity and Inclusion team of Bloomberg LP following roles inside and outside organizations that could largely be branded as Organizational Development.

Followed by brief Q & A

Plenary Discussion

The aim of this session, moderated by John Beckford, is to draw out the complementary and competing ideas emerging from the two sessions.

Dr. John Beckford, FCybS, President of the Cybernetics Society

John Beckford is a board member of WOSC, a partner in Beckford Consulting, Non-Executive Chair of the Board of Rise Mutual CIC, a Non-Executive Director of both Fusion21 and CoreHaus (social enterprises) and Visiting Professor in both the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London and the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. John holds a PhD in cybernetics from the University of Hull, is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and of the Royal Society for the Arts and a Member of the Institute of Management Services.

Cybernetics Society – a learned society

The Cybernetics Society promotes and offers education and research opportunities in the rich field of cybernetics. In the CybSights series, including the President's Series, we offer isghts conversations, lectures, case studies, analysis, education, and thoughtful entertainment.,

The Cybernetics Society – – is a specially authorised learned society regulated by the FSA and established by a 1974 Act of Parliament. To join visit our membership system or pick the Join ticket.

Cybernetics plays into and strongly influences many scientific and practice fields including design, epistemology, ecology, biology, psychology and living behaviour, technology and engineering, social policy, and business practice. Many feature in the wonderfully aware and successful designers and thinkers of this series.

Cybernetics offers a distinct "go" — techniques — to address local and global challenges of the 21st century.