Systems that produce chronic problems

Timothy Johnson is a keen observer of workplace hostilities. His latest book, GUST The "Tale" Wind of Office Politics, chronicles a toxic level of obstructionism, antagonistic purposes and deceitful communications inside a corporate setting. He introduces several overt and covert strategies that disrupt the cruel games being played out. His wonderful use of analogies and metaphors turns the onslaught of intimidating tactics into manageable situations. His book provides useful ammunition and insightful outlooks for the battles that breakout between power-trippers in every kind of organization.

In the ongoing comments on Michele Martin's: When We're Faced with Change, We Can Either Fence Ourselves in or Make Ourselves More Resilient, we're exploring another "office politics problem": the neglect of people's hidden talents, under-utilized strengths and potential to handle new challenges. The emphasis on fixing people's shortcomings and correcting their mistakes precludes a developmental approach.

All mismanagement of people is systemic. It does not make sense to blame individuals once the whole system is accounted for and recognized as the source of the drama. The system that produces chronic problems uses people as pawns to perpetuate it's existence. The interpersonal problems persist because the underlying dynamics are robust and resilient. There's no end to the obvious dysfunctions until this epistemological system is revised.

This system remains hidden below the drama. It goes unquestioned because their is so much pain and fuss erupting on the surface. The system lurks behind "this is a cost of doing business", "it's always been this way", or "we're already facing the facts of the situation here". This system defines all the problems, frames every incident, assigns blame or causality and maintains the same experiences for all participants.

Changing an epistemological system simply changes the unquestioned facts of life. Everything gets different meanings. Problems are redefined and seen in a different light. The obvious symptoms reveal underlying issues. The established facts become obsolete interpretations and opportunities to reconsider the basis for making sense.

to be continued ....


  1. Tom - thanks for the great review. It's been an honor and a pleasure to get to know you better.

  2. Your very welcome Tim. Congratulations on the increasing sales of your book and your growing "shelf esteem".