Barry Oshry: Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life (2007)

Picture: my own

“When we don’t see systems,
we fall out of the possibility of partnership with one another;
we don’t understand one another;
we make up stories about one another;
we have our myths and prejudices about one another;
we hurt and destroy one another;
we become antagonists when we could be collaborators;
we separate when we could remain together happily;
we become strangers when we could be friends;
we oppress one another when we could live in peace;
and our systems — organizations, families, task forces, faith groups — squander much of their potential.
All of this happens without awareness or choice-
dances of blind reflex.”

This book provides a lucid, systemic and compassionate perspective on the pitfalls and potentialities of organizational life. As a ‘systems’ thinker, Barry Oshry sees organizations as patterns of relationships rather than as collection of individuals. But, and this is an important twist, these are relationships between ‘contexts’ as much as between individuals.

“Sorry. No list. With these challenges, we end where we began: uncertainty. There are no clear-cut road maps for how we carry out any of these. They will draw on us to grow, to develop new resources, to create new partnerships, and to resist the unyielding lure of the Dance of Blind Reflex. If we are committed to the stands — and that is the key — we will find our hows.”



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Philippe Vandenbroeck

Philippe Vandenbroeck

Facilitator @ shiftN ⎹ Post-disciplinary researcher @ Newrope, ETH Zürich ⎹ How to create spaces were life is able to unfold, and is experienced as life?