The Holistic View

Consider the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant (Saxe, 1873). Several blind men touch different sections of an elephant, and they are all “seeing” different things. One man is holding the leg and believes it is like a tree; another man is holding the trunk and tells another it is like a snake. Each man is “seeing” individual parts but not the whole. What implications does this parable have for how leaders and managers view their organizations if they only look at the parts individually instead of as a whole?

To prepare for this Discussion, select an organization with which you are familiar. Consider the various parts of the organization and how looking at these parts as a whole might inform your understanding of the organization.

an explanation of the primary parts of your selected organization. Then, explain how the parts of this organization relate to the whole organization. Finally, explain how understanding the whole and its parts informs an organization’s leadership and management. How would this understanding inform your leadership or management style?

Consider how the parts interrelate and how they aggregate to make up the whole organization.

Oshry, B. (2007). Seeing systems: Unlocking the mysteries of organizational life. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Act 1, “Seeing the Big Picture” (pp. 1–60) Act 2, “Seeing Patterns of Relationships” (pp. 61–128)

Uhl-Bien, M. (2006). Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 654–676. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


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