Summary of Leading Systems: Lessons from the Power Lab

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Leading Systems: Lessons from the Power Lab book summary
Lessons on power and leadership from the New Hope Society.


5 Overall

2 Applicability

10 Innovation

4 Style


Barry Oshry maintains that we all live in systems that inevitably shape our understanding of the world and our relationship to it. If you haven’t noticed a system encircling you, look again at your socioeconomic group, which governs you in far more ways than you suspect. To teach power, leadership, and systems, Oshry runs an experiential program in which participants totally immerse themselves in an "assigned" system, usually by living and working in a particular socioeconomic realm (as in "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or a pauper). He has taught this "Power Lab" for thirty years. In this book, Oshry looks at human systems and at lessons from the Power Lab experiences. His insights are casually written, but well crafted. getAbstract recommends this fascinating, insightful book to anyone interested in power, leadership, human systems, and sociology.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How an intricate network of systems structures how people act and function;
  • Why it’s easier to fix yourself than the systems in which you live; and
  • How to recognize the vulnerabilities and responsibilities associated with each socioeconomic class.


Life: A Web of Systems
Ethnic wars, failed relationships, bloody coup d’etats and gang shootings. Such destructive events are replayed every night, over and over again on the nightly news. With each separate story is a unique set of circumstances built upon histories, personalities and...
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About the Author

Barry Oshry is the creator of Power Lab and The Organization Workshop on Creating Partnership. His programs have been conducted in hundreds of organizations in the U.S. and around the world. He is the co-founder of Power & Systems, Inc., an educational institute dedicated to deepening people’s understanding of social system phenomena. He is also the author of Seeing Systems.

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