Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life

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Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Aug 20, 2007 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
When breakdowns occur in organizational life, the tendency is to blame them on the personalities, motivations, and abilities of the individuals involved or on the specific characteristics of one’s organization. Barry Oshry demonstrates how everyday breakdowns stem from our failure to see how human systems shape our feelings about ourselves and our relationships with other individuals and groups. He shows how we can transform “system blindness” into system sight, enabling us to live and work together in productive partnership. Based on Oshry’s 30+ years of studying human interaction in social system life, Seeing Systems is profound in its implications while being easily accessible. In addition to illustrative cases and solid systems theory, the book is populated with pinballs; talking body parts; mysterious “swimmers”; amebocytes, slugs, and earthworms; dances of blind reflex; and tunnels of limited options. The result is a unique foundation for revolutionizing our understanding of system life. This new edition is revised throughout and features an extensive new section on having the wisdom and courage to face and work with the reality of uncertainty, a hopeful antidote to today’s righteous battles of certainty versus certainty. The new epilogue describes how Oshry is currently using theater, blogs, and podcasts to extend his multipronged revolution aimed at transforming system blindness into system sight.
 

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Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Overcoming System Blindness
SEEING THE BIG PICTURE Act I
Scene 1 When We Dont See the Big Picture
Scene 2 From Spatial Blindness to Spatial Sight
Scene 3 From Temporal Blindness to Temporal Sight
SEEING PATTERNS OF RELATIONSHIPS Act II
Scene 1 Relational Blindness
Scene 4 The Challenge of Robust Systems
SEEING UNCERTAINTY ACT IV
Scene 1 Individuals in Uncertainty
Scene 2 Groups in Uncertainty
Scene 3 Facing and Escaping the Uncertainties of Existence
The Next ActSeeing More
A Continuing Revolution
Notes

Scene 2 From Relational Blindness to Relational Sight
SEEING PATTERNS OF PROCESS Act III
Scene 1 Process Blindness
Scene 2 From Process Blindness to Process Sight
Scene 3 The Politics of System Processes
About the Author
About BerrettKoehler Publishers
Be Connected
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About the author (2007)

Barry Oshry is the founder of Power + Systems, Inc., developer of the Power Lab and the Organization Workshop on Creating Partnership, and the author of Leading Systems.

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