In Blog Articles, Monday Memo

Monday Memo | 23 July 2018


Last week we discussed Barry Oshry’s book, “Seeing Systems” and I undertook to give you the antidote this week to the 5 types of system blindness:

  1. Spatial blindness
  2. Temporal blindness
  3. Relational blindness
  4. Process blindness
  5. Uncertainty blindness

Although Oshry has antidotes for each of these types of blindness, it struck me that there was a constant in each of his remedies – namely, the concept of “partnership” which he defines as a relationship in which we are jointly committed to the success of whatever endeavour, process or project we are engaged in. After all, isn’t it in our mutual interest to be in partnership about the life of the system we are living in? This organisation? This project? This meeting?

The question then is one of how do we partner with:

  1. Fellow team members and / or stakeholders to fill in the missing pieces of the whole system of which we are only seeing a part? (Thereby overcoming Spatial blindness)
  2. Fellow team members and / or stakeholders to fill in the history / the full story of how we got to the present? (Overcoming Temporal blindness)
  3. The people within the system with whom our relationship is less than optimal to better understand them? (Overcoming Relational blindness)
  4. The people involved in our processes with whom our relationship is deteriorating to enable us to see the whole process and their perspective? (Overcoming Process blindness)
  5. The people we are in a righteous battle trying to make ourselves right and them wrong, to be able to more clearly see the uncertainty underpinning both of our fixed positions? (Overcoming Uncertainty blindness)

Put simply, isn’t full partnership with the stakeholders involved the single most effective way to overcome any problem, systemic or otherwise? (Of course, Oshry argues that it is all systemic – and I think he has convinced me that he is right!J). And it is the most effective way because it doesn’t simply look at the parts of the system, but focuses on the connections between the parts. More on that next week!

I hope that this series of Monday Memos is creating not only greater understanding for my readers, but that it perhaps raises more questions than answers. I’d love to discuss these with you. Please feel free to raise your views or questions with me at

(I am indebted to the work of Peter Hawkins, of Renewal Associates, especially his book, Leadership Team Coaching, as well as the methodology of Integral Coaching Canada, which I have integrated for purposes of this series and in developing my Systemic Leadership Team Coaching process.

Some of the other books that form a foundation for this series are:

Systemic Team Coaching by John Leary-Joyce and Hilary Lines

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Team of Teams by S McChrystal et al

Seeing Systems by Barry Oshry

Flawless Consulting by Peter Block

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge et al)  

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