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Alpha societies and requisite variety: a projected framework for governance, education, and work in the 21st century

George H. Kubik (President and Chief Researcher, Anticipatory Futures Group, LLC, Eagan, MN, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this article is to define a framework for projecting future leading-edge alpha societies based on the principle of requisite variety. Alpha societies are advanced as a platform for creating future forms of work and workforce preparation premised on continuous creativity, invention, design and innovation.


The principle of requisite variety is presented as the basis for a structured schema that incorporates trends and developments in anticipatory behaviors, systems thinking, creativity, design and innovation to produce a strategy for continuous leading-edge learning and performance.


Growing global hypercompetition requires real-time ability to create and deliver world-class ideas and value-adding products and services in the shortest possible timeframes. This challenge requires societies, enterprises and individuals that are capable of continuously expanding and expressing their internal variety and complexity while rapidly decreasing the gaps between learning and doing.

Research limitations/implications

The principle of requisite variety has been well known to cybernetics and systems communities since 1956. However, literature linking the principle of requisite variety to the future of learning and work is not well developed.

Practical implications

This article establishes requisite variety generation as a valuable resource for twenty-first century societies and economies engaged in producing leading-edge outcomes.

Social implications

The requisite variety framework developed in this article is intended to enhance the ability of leading-edge societies to continuously leapfrog existing educational, social and economic trajectories.


The author defines the future of education and work in terms of enhancing individual, enterprise and societal abilities to absorb, generate and exploit variety, complexity and ambiguity.



Kubik, G.H. (2015), "Alpha societies and requisite variety: a projected framework for governance, education, and work in the 21st century", On the Horizon, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 16-24.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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