Originating in psychological practice, the regulative cycle (Towards a Methodology of Psychological Practice (van Strien, 1997)) has been extensively applied as a methodology of (clinical) practice, geared towards the "interested" regulation of the behaviour of groups or organizations in the desired direction.

The work system (real site work system in the figure1) under consideration typically consists of the activities of a delineated group of ''actors,'' mutually related in a household, an organisation, a territory, a sector, a supply chain, and interacting with others having mandates at various levels of scope.

Positioning the regulative cycle with respect to the three realms:

  • For the worksystem, one typically aims at improving the operations2
  • Monitoring & Evaluation yields the problems and gaps. For the selected real site work system, the Monitoring/Evaluation compares performance and properties with a site specfic reference model that has been derived (via Translation) from a reference model. See the Driver goal gap pattern (Check and plan) for concepts related to monitoring and evaluation.
  • Change (Intervention/Implementation in the figure) is the focus of the regulative cycle as such (improvement initiative). See the Change pattern (Adjust or act) for concepts related to Change.

Whereas the intervention intention of the regulative cycle makes it a regulative interaction, the cycle also includes a number of semiotic interactions:

The activities evaluation, problem identification, and diagnosis are part of the Monitoring & Evaluation realm.

Plan of action, and intervention (therapy (treatment)) are part of the Change realm.

As part of any improvement or development initiative, for a person (health, knowledge, skills), an organisation, or a social group (society).

Operations have constraints (the laws of the natural, social, or technical order3) and causal dependencies, which affect intervention options and the incentives for producing or providing certain assets. In theory, these constraints should be least stringent in the social and technical order.

The lean (low-cost) performance of regulative cycles is a key outcome that this interaction dictionary should achieve, by introducing collaborative approaches in the Monitoring & Evaluation and the Change Realm.


Name4 Regulative Cycle
Target Outcome Successful intervention in the work system.
Social actors and roles Clinician, stakeholders of the work system
Trigger or preceding interaction The sensing of a problem or undesired condition in the work system of interest. The one sensing the problem or experiencing the condition is often part of the work system.
Interfaces and services Information services and communication enablers.
Inputs and outputs I: Problem Statement; O: Problem Solved
Stores and tools Evidence-provision for clinical practitioners, such as what the Cochrane Collaboration is doing for health care.
Other characteristics
Part of Collective regulative bundle
Parts evaluation (of work system operations with respect to an instrument or via benchmarking), problem identification (selection from a problem mess), diagnosis (of the problem situation – analysis), plan of action (design), and therapy (treatment) (intervention, implementation).
Succeeding Interactions Monitoring or evaluation: after the cycle has been concluded, either the intervention could be evaluated, or the condition of the system can be further monitored.
Alternatives Comparable methods for change management in an entity such as an organisation, or a person.
Action Realm All three realms: Operations Monitoring & Evaluation Change
Risks Addressing the wrong problem (a symptom, rather than a root-cause); Bypassing diagnosis; jumping to solutions.
Further reading Towards a Methodology of Psychological Practice (van Strien, 1997)

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