Seeing Systems LO5716

Tobin Quereau (
Sun, 18 Feb 1996 19:43:37 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO5663 --

A broad-ranging and potent post!! Your conection of the system to the
language in use and the notions of employing visual tools comes through
well. I'll be interested to "see" what this stirs up.

I'm afraid I am unable to give full response online to your considerable
collection of queries regarding systems changing before people do. In
general, however, I have found that the system operates independently of
the people in it in many ways, and that the pressures and tensions we feel
in a "system" are often brought about by our inability to "see" how things
have changed around us--new demands on our unit or workgroup, loss of
resources we have been used to, new imput from unexpected directions,
etc.--and how those changes require us to adapt to new conditions. I would
think that the series of questions you brought up would be excellent ones
to address in whatever specific situation one is a part of in order to
detect such changes more quickly and in greater depth.

The other thing that comes up for me as I reread your post is a reminder
that systems are where we "perceive" them to be. The boundaries,
interrelationships, influences, and breadth of "systems" are more a
statement of our perception, perspective, and belief--our position and
language , as you suggest--than they are about anything else. The fluidity
and interdependence of "reality" is, in my humble opinion, part of the
Mystery that makes learning a continuous delight and shifts of
perspective, such as you are suggesting, so valuable.

Although I haven't tried it yet, you might want to supplement this posting
with some of your visual tools on the World Wide Web site that Rick has
created for the list. I'll bet he would be delighted to have some images
to drop into our pool of interaction...

[Host's Note: I'll be delighted to add a 1/4 page or 1/2 page graphic to
any msg on the list. It will be viewable by readers from the web but,
sorry, not by email subscribers. Fax the graphic to me on fine mode at

I also appreciated your very concrete example of "systems" work from years
ago in alcohol and drug prevention programs. Having done some of that in
the field of counseling myself, I can underscore the power of such a
perspective in bringing about change at personal, family, and community
levels alike. And it helps me to understand how folks who have walked that
path and returned to sanity and health are some of the wisest people I

Tobin Quereau
Austin Community College

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