Sunday, March 09, 2014

No Quick Fix

During Lent the rector has been leading discussions on Edwin H. Friedman's A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix after morning services.

Rabbi Friedman (1932-1996) was an expert on family systems theory, which analyzes dysfunctions from the point of view of relationships among members of the family system, not just the individual who is viewed as the "problem." Friedman's book, Generation to Generation, was well-received in 1985, and we're beginning with concepts from that book before tackling Failure of Nerve, which was completed by scholars after Friedman's death.

OK, that's enough heaviness for a short blog post. Quick comments:

1) Family systems theory is a new term to your humble observer but appears to be a branch of general systems theory, with which I am a little familiar.

2) Systems theory and analysis, with its terminology and concepts, provides useful insights to many fields of endeavor.

3) One must be wary, however, about the over-reliance on any single perspective. For example, disciples of such varied topics as original sin, Hegelian dialectic, evolution, efficient capital markets, or global warming often cannot see the world except through their respective lenses.

4) Because of the complexity of analyzing multiple actors and their relationships, a systems approach won't usually produce a "quick fix." When I was younger, I would have resisted the notion that the answers were complicated. Now, I accept it.

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