Leading Systems

Lessons from the Power Lab

Barry Oshry (Author)

Publication date: 02/12/2004

Leading Systems

For over thirty years, Barry Oshry has uncovered core truths about how we operate in large organizations through the Power Lab, an experiential program that has been called "The World Series of Leadership Development Activities." In Leading Systems, Oshry reveals the lessons he has derived from his Power Lab experiences-experiences that have been central to his innovative insights about human systems and system leadership.

Oshry maintains that the next evolutionary challenge for human beings is to recognize ourselves as system creatures, see how system processes shape our experiences, and develop the knowledge and skills to master these processes rather than be victims of them. Drawing on his Power Lab experiences, he reveals the possibilities of systems leadership and how effective leadership can provide the basis for creating sane, healthy, effective social systems.

Challenging conventional thinking, Oshry shows the limitations of consensus, the importance of unilateral action, and the restrictions that our values-such as egalitarianism, liberalism, conservatism-can place on power. He reveals how the problems we often believe are personal or peculiar to our system or circumstances are in fact systemic, limiting the possibilities of both individuals and the system as a whole-and he demonstrates what it takes to break out and elevate ourselves and our systems to higher levels of possibility.

Perhaps most importantly, Oshry shares his experience in discovering what he calls "exhilarating concepts," and shows how these concepts offer unusual insights into the nature of systems, shedding light on everything from organizational dysfunction to the conflicts that occur along lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. It is only through this deep knowledge, Oshry says, that system leaders can elevate their systems to those higher levels of possibility to which we aspire.

Offering new directions, Leading Systems is essential reading for anyone who wants a deep understanding of how systems work and how to exert enlightened leadership.

  • Accessible, full of real-life examples, and beautifully written by a pioneer in systems thinking
  • A systems framework based not on hopes and dreams but on thirty years of research on what systems really are
  • Speaks to leadership in the family, community, organization, and nation

Read more and meet author below



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Overview

For over thirty years, Barry Oshry has uncovered core truths about how we operate in large organizations through the Power Lab, an experiential program that has been called "The World Series of Leadership Development Activities." In Leading Systems, Oshry reveals the lessons he has derived from his Power Lab experiences-experiences that have been central to his innovative insights about human systems and system leadership.

Oshry maintains that the next evolutionary challenge for human beings is to recognize ourselves as system creatures, see how system processes shape our experiences, and develop the knowledge and skills to master these processes rather than be victims of them. Drawing on his Power Lab experiences, he reveals the possibilities of systems leadership and how effective leadership can provide the basis for creating sane, healthy, effective social systems.

Challenging conventional thinking, Oshry shows the limitations of consensus, the importance of unilateral action, and the restrictions that our values-such as egalitarianism, liberalism, conservatism-can place on power. He reveals how the problems we often believe are personal or peculiar to our system or circumstances are in fact systemic, limiting the possibilities of both individuals and the system as a whole-and he demonstrates what it takes to break out and elevate ourselves and our systems to higher levels of possibility.

Perhaps most importantly, Oshry shares his experience in discovering what he calls "exhilarating concepts," and shows how these concepts offer unusual insights into the nature of systems, shedding light on everything from organizational dysfunction to the conflicts that occur along lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. It is only through this deep knowledge, Oshry says, that system leaders can elevate their systems to those higher levels of possibility to which we aspire.

Offering new directions, Leading Systems is essential reading for anyone who wants a deep understanding of how systems work and how to exert enlightened leadership.

  • Accessible, full of real-life examples, and beautifully written by a pioneer in systems thinking
  • A systems framework based not on hopes and dreams but on thirty years of research on what systems really are
  • Speaks to leadership in the family, community, organization, and nation

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Barry Oshry

Barry Oshry, a pioneer in systems thinking, is the creator of Power Lab, the When Cultures Meet Workshop, and the Organization Workshop on Creating Partnership, which he and his associates have conducted in hundreds of organizations in the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife and partner, Karen Ellis Oshry, are cofounders of Power + Systems, Inc. an educational institute dedicated to providing programs and publications that deepen people's understanding of social system phenomena. A former Chairman of the Department of Human Relations at Boston University, Oshry has presented keynote addresses and workshops for the Association of Quality and Participation, the American Management Association, the Organizational Development Network, and GOAL/QPC. He is the author of Leading Systems: Lessons from the Power Lab and Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizaitonal Life.

To visit Barry's website, please click HERE

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Ants, Bees, Termites and Us
Introduction: The Power Lab and the Search for System Leadership

Part I: Lessons from the Inside
1. The First Encounter
2. You Bet a Bus, I'll Raise You an Airplane
3. One That Got Away
4. Begging With Barry
5. Leadership Lessons from the Inside

Part II: Lessons from the Outside
6. System Story I: Tops, Middles, and Bottoms
7. Last Hope, Lost Hope: Part I
8. Last Hope, Lost Hope: Part II

Part III: Seeing and Leading Whole Systems
9. Exhilarating Concepts
10. Processes of the Whole: What Does IT Do?
11. Politics and Preferences
12. Systemic Imbalance
13. High Octane System Processes and the Challenge of Robust Systems

Part IV: Lessons from the Cosmos
14. System Story II: Culture and Counterculture
15. System Story III: the Terrible Dance of Power
16. Dominance: A Special Case of Differentiation
17. "I" and "Us"
Epilogue: An Experiment that Did Not Fail

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Endorsements

"Leading Systems is the best book on systems living and action I have ever read. The writing is powerful and compelling. It offers a way for us to experience our power, our freedom, our anxiety, and still stay deeply engaged in serving the systems of which we are a part. I highly recommend this book."

-Peter Block, author of Stewardship and The Empowered Manager

"Leading Systems gets to the dynamics of leadership and power relations more effectively than the usual jargon and rhetoric. People who read this book will see that they can avoid the pitfalls of system life and create healthy societies."

-Betty Friedan, Author and Lecturer

"One of the truly great management educators of the era. . . . Every manager, executive, and leader benefits from the insights which jump out of his provocative writings. His ideas will still be sparkling decades from now."

-Kenwyn K. Smith, Professor, University of Pennsylvania

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