Corporate society: dancers and other species

(text version 3)

Oshry, B., 1996. Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Have you ever had a conflict and ended up thinking that it was your fault or were absolutely convinced it was fault of your opponent? Yes or yes?

If it is the case, then you should go through the book “Seeing systems” by Barry Oshry. You may surprisingly discover that what you considered to be your unique personal feelings were merely symptoms of the role you play without realizing it. Symptoms of the dance you dance unconsciously. The Dance of a blind reflex.

Through numerous abstract stories, roles in relationships are being revealed

  • top-bottom

  • end-middle-end

  • provider-customer

  • dominant-dominated

And you really have a déjà vu sensation while reading it– this has just happened in your office…

To make a long story short – relations have their own dynamics which persists if relating parties are not aware of it.

The natural dynamics is that one party feels more responsible and ends up overwhelmed with complexity, guilt and frustration, while the other one ends up feeling oppressed and unsupported.

“Partnership … it’s such an unnatural act.” /p.101/

The thing is that a relation has a capacity that is in any given short term constant. And if one party sucks more out of that capacity, the equilibrium is disrupted and the system becomes dysfunctional.

The organizational life, no matter if it is happening in a company or family or country, is a drama but doesn’t have to end up as a tragedy.

To create partnership – the equilibrium – you have to diagnose the dance. And then stop it and start another one, because to get different results you have to act differently. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” /Mahatma Gandhi/

Are you wondering now why it is always you who has to make the step? It is simple - you cannot change others, but you may change yourself. And others may eventually follow.

Sounds complicated? Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy – you will face resistance from the moment you try to change the “old comfortably uncomfortable dance” because an unpredictable chaos will be created and no one’s interests will be protected. And all that happens not in the name of certainty, but only in the name of mere opportunity.

So, even if you diagnose what is happening you may choose to continue the dance. But from that point on your problem will no longer be­ that your personality and other personalities don’t fit. “The problem is choice.” /Architect, Matrix Reloaded/

And I prefer this as “having choice” sounds like “being free” to me.

In that moment of “seeing”, we were fully conscious and free. /p.171/

P.S. I shall comment more on ... Differentiation and dedifferentiation

Version 3 - Posted on Saturday 24 October 2009