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Seeing Systems, 2nd Edition

Book Description

In this extensively revised and updated edition of his classic book, Barry Oshry shows how we can transform “system blindness” into “system sight,” enabling us to live and work together in productive partnership. Based on more than thirty years of research and packed with illustrative cases and solid systems theory on human interaction, Seeing Systems provides a penetrating look at the dynamics of systems and a unique foundation for revolutionizing our understanding of system life. This new edition features an extensive new section on having the wisdom and courage to face and work with the reality of uncertainty, and a new epilogue describing how Oshry is currently using theater, blogs, and podcasts to extend his multi-pronged revolution aimed at transforming system blindness into system sight.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Preface to the Second Edition
  6. Prologue: Overcoming System Blindness
  7. Act I. Seeing the Big Picture
    1. Scene 1. When We don’t See the Big Picture
      1. 1. Pinball
      2. 2. The Manager of the Heart
      3. 3. The Mystery of the Swim
      4. 4. Seeing the Local Picture
      5. 5. “Stuff” Happens
    2. Scene 2. From Spatial Blindness to Spatial Sight
      1. 6. Seeing Context
      2. 7. The “Truth” about Jack
      3. 8. Charlotte is a Problem
      4. 9. Center Ring or Side Show?
      5. 10. Times Out of Time: Seeing the Whole
      6. 11. The TOOT Dilemma
    3. Scene 3. From Temporal Blindness to Temporal Sight
      1. 12. The Invisible Histories of the Swims We are in
      2. 13. History’s Burst of Illumination
      3. 14. Bart and Barb: A System Evolves . . . Perfectly
      4. 15. “Anthropology” or Mick Gets Wiped out
      5. 16. Applied Anthropology: Unraveling System History
      6. Summary
  8. Act II. Seeing Patterns of Relationship
    1. Scene 1. Relational Blindness
      1. 17. What about all the Drama?
      2. 18. The Dance of Blind Reflex
    2. Scene 2. From Relational Blindness to Relational Sight
      1. 19. Three Patterns of Relationship
      2. 20. One Wakes, the other Sleeps
      3. 21. The Top/Bottom Dance of Blind Reflex
      4. 22. It Takes Two to Tango . . . or does it?
      5. 23. Let’s Declare Bankruptcy: Transforming the Top/Bottom Dance
      6. 24. The Universal Civics Course
      7. 25. The End/Middle/End Dance of Blind Reflex
      8. 26. Daniel: Mutant in the Middle Space
      9. 27. Organizations in the Middle
      10. 28. The Provider/Customer Dance of Blind Reflex
      11. 29. Overcontrol or Transformation: The Mutant Customer
      12. 30. The Unfairly Judged Professor (And the Righteously Done-to Students)
      13. 31. Abused and Misused in the Space of Service
      14. 32. The Web of Relationships
      15. 33. How to Clean Sidewalks: It’s a Matter of being
      16. 34. Resistance or the Sound of the Old Dance Shaking
      17. 35. How We Can See the Dance
      18. Summary
  9. Act III. Seeing Patterns of Process
    1. Scene 1. Process Blindness
      1. 36. Are You Sure You have it all?
      2. 37. Turf Warfare, Alienation, and GroupThink: The Dance of Blind Reflex Continued
      3. 38. Relationship Breakdowns in a Nutshell
    2. Scene 2. From Process Blindness to Process Sight
      1. 39. Territorial Tops: Stuck on Differentiation
      2. 40. The Success of a Business, the Failure of its Partners
      3. 41. Learning from Experience: A Good Second Marriage
      4. 42. Help! No Recovering Top Groups Sighted
      5. 43. Advice for the Top Team
      6. 44. Alienated Middles: Stuck on Individuation
      7. 45. Alienation among the Middles
      8. 46. Can Alienated Middles Become a Powerful System?
      9. 47. Mutant Middle Groups
      10. 48. How to Create Powerful Middle Teams
      11. 49. Bottom GroupThink: Stuck on Integration
      12. 50. Immigrant Martha has a Breakdown
      13. 51. Where is Everyone? A Mutant Bottom Group
      14. 52. Power is Managing Differentiation
      15. 53. Creating Powerful Bottom Groups
    3. Scene 3. The Politics of System Processes
      1. 54. Huddlers and Humanists . . . Enough with Consensus!
      2. 55. Amebocytes and Slugs: The Politics of Individuation and Integration
      3. 56. The Politics of Gender
      4. 57. Or Would You Rather be an Earthworm? Societal Implications of Differentiation and Homogenization
      5. 58. Differentiation: Inquiry or Warfare?
      6. 59. An Ode to Homogenization
    4. Scene 4. The Challenge of Robust Systems
      1. 60. The Dominants and the others
      2. 61. Robust System Processes
      3. 62. The Dance of the Robust System: Ballet Notes
      4. 63. A Remarkable, If Somewhat Premature Epiphany
      5. Summary
  10. Act IV. Seeing Uncertainty
    1. 64. The Emergence of Organizational Positions
    2. Scene 1. Individuals in Uncertainty
      1. 65. Individuals Facing and Escaping from Organizational Uncertainty
      2. 66. A Mutant Moment in the Middle
      3. 67. Dancing in and out of the Tunnel of Limited Options
      4. 68. His Magic Consultant Card #2
    3. Scene 2. Groups in Uncertainty
      1. 69. Groups Facing and Escaping from Uncertainty
      2. 70. How to Transform Oppositional Struggles into Multifaceted Flexible Teams
    4. Scene 3. Facing and Escaping the Uncertainties of Existence
      1. 71. Not all Possibilities are Possible
      2. 72. Coping with Uncertainty through Mythos and Logos
      3. Summary
  11. The Next Act—Seeing more
  12. Epilogue: A Continuing Revolution
  13. Notes
  14. About the Author