I’m Barry Oshry, I am 75 years old and a long time student of social systems. In my adult years I have been a bartender in Boston's Combat Zone, a waiter in a Greek restaurant, a cartoonist, novelist, playwright, husband, father, and grandfather. In my day job, I am President (also Chief Theoretical Officer) of Power + Systems, Inc., an organization my wife and partner, Karen Ellis Oshry (Chief Connector), established in 1975. I am the developer of the Power Lab, a total immersion leadership development program that, since 1972, has attracted adventurous learners and leaders from across the globe. Power Lab: Living in New Hope is a multiple prize-winning documentary based on that program. I am also the developer of The Organization Workshop on Creating Partnership. This program has become an essential component in the leadership development curricula of organizations throughout the world with a network of over 250 trainers conducting it in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, Portugal, the U.K., South Africa, India, and Israel.
I am also a playwright. “What a Way to Make a Living: The Search for Partnership in Organizational Life,” is a hilarious and insightful romp through the real-life tribulations at the top, on the bottom, and in the middle of organizational life. “What a Way” has been performed for both organizations and the public. “Peace,” a 10-minute play deals with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the prism of a father/daughter conflict. "Peace" has been included in several festivals. “Hierarchy”, a dramatic piece focusing on the clash of organizational cultures is in development. In addition, two of my writings have been given dramatic performances: “The Terrible Dance of Power” by the Seattle Public Theatre and “The Waltz of the Lemmings” by the Seattle Mime Company.” No one has yet taken me up on “The Dance of the Robust System.”
I’ll be using this blog is to bring a human systems perspective to a wide range of issues and events in the news. The following gives some sense of the range of issues I’ll be working on:
• Even Tops Know what it is to be Bottom
• The Iraq War as Power Move
• Social Security: Ideology versus Knowledge
• Is God a Choice?
• The Skill to Deceive, the Will to Believe
• Morality versus Morality: or Morality is Not the Answer
• Choice + Awareness
• Self as System
• Barry's Marvelous Adventure (hint: I’m a Boston Red Sox fan.)
• The Breakup at Disney
• President Khatami of Iran: Just another “Man in the Middle”
• Why I Read Noam Chomsky
• White Privilege
As you follow these blogs, the human systems perspective will become increasingly clear. My intention is to provide a unique lens that will stimulate new thinking about important issues.
"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes."
If you are interested in going deeper into this human systems perspective, I recommend the following books:
• The Possibilities of Organization (Power + Systems)
• In the Middle (Power + Systems)
• Space Work (Power + Systems)
• Seeing Systems: Unlocking the Mysteries of Organizational Life (Berrett-Koehler)
• Leading Systems: Lessons from the Power Lab (Berrett-Koehler)
Everything I do - skip bartending and waitering - is aimed at helping first myself, then others, see more clearly the systems in which we live and work. The goal is to provide greater awareness, and, with awareness, more enlightened choice.