Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bullet points from Edwin Friedman | A failure of Nerve

As I read through Friedman's book, I'll offer bullet points from the book. Then, after all the posts, hopefully write a bit of analysis.

In the introduction, he says these are the four major similarities in the thinking of American families and institutions that are at the heart of the problem of contemporary America's orientation toward leadership:

1) A regressive, counter-evolutionary trend in which the most dependent members of any organization set the agendas and where adaptation is constantly toward weakness rather than strength, thus leveraging power to the recalcitrant, the passive-agressive, and the most anxious members of an institution rather than toward the energetic, the visionary, the imaginative, and the motivated.

2) A devaluation of the process of individuation so that leaders tend to rely more on expertise than on their own capacity to be decisive. Consultants contribute further to this denial of individuation by offering solutions instead of promoting their clients' capacity to define themselves more clearly.

3) An obsession with data and technique that has become a form of addiction and turns professionals into data-junkies and their information into data junkyards. As a result, decision-makers avoid or deny the very emotional processes within their families, their institutions, and within society itself that might contribute to their institutions "persistence of form."

4) A widespread misunderstanding about the relational nature of destructive processes in families and institutions that leads leaders to assume that toxic forces can be regulated through reasonableness, love, insight, role-modeling, inculcation of values, and striving for consensus. It prevents them from taking the kind of stand that set limits to the invasiveness of those who lack self-regulation.

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