Systemic change often involves multiple feedback loops and drivers of change. As such, focusing on a single causal variable is often not helpful. For example, I often hear executives argue that “it is all about the right reward systems—get your rewards right and everything falls into place.” While reward systems are very important and a key part of organizational change capability, they are a subsystem within a larger system that has many complex and interacting parts.
Barry Oshry writes insightfully about “spatial” and “temporal” blindness within an organizational system. Spatial blindness is about seeing the part without seeing the whole. Temporal blindness is about seeing the present without the past. Both forms of blindness need to be overcome in order to better understand cause and effect within a system. Oshry recommends that people from various parts of the system need to periodically take time out to reflect collectively so as to transcend their blind spots. 1