Healing Vicious / Stubborn Problems Discussion Points


  1. Did Uncle solve the problem?  Is the structure likely to reverse by as much in the future? What meaning, in this instance, had the uncle carried when he says “solved”?
  2. Had he made any effort to present specific physical interventions for the two (such as arbitration, physical separations, ultimatums and so on)?
  3. If he had not (‘turned up at the scene of the crime’), how had you ‘managed’ to do this (remotely)? What did he say? Not say?   What did he do?  Not do?
    List ten things that had happened in the story to illustrate the four questions here. Those steps that had allowed the uncle resolve the systemic nature of the structure and help participants within the structure learn to turn it around from its vicious to virtuous nature by themselves?
  4. How long would it have taken the MIL & DIL, had they known what systemic structures are and had learned to work with them, to uncover the systemic structure and the time they would have taken to deal with it? Who can make the difference faster for them? Clients or the consultants? In which scenario would the work be more believable? What would this mean now in terms of the ways we manage change (in our change management efforts going forward)? For teams? For organizations? For the nation?
  5. Personal work: Notice what you had liked about the story. Notice also what you had struggled with it?
  6. Personal work: Think of scenarios in your own realities that you may consider testing these principles with.  Record your thought, feelings, reactions and results as they happen.  Learn to become a keen observer of your realities. See and understand patterns.



What he did not do:

  • He chose not to “break” the cycle, i.e. to say “MIL is banished to this house and DIL go to another house.”  The “solution” applied here would not have worked in the same way, had the cycle stayed broken.
  • He chose not to exercise judgment on the situation or the person.  That since the DIL is the younger one, and so therefore she should be the one to give in to her MIL. He did not suggest to her what is the right or what is the wrong action to do.
  • He did not lay out a direction, or setup a list of dos and don’ts or tap into their fears of retribution of punishment so as to monitor and change their behaviours.  He did not choose to take the easy way out. He chose to ‘bite the bullet’ and ride it out.
  • He did not treat the problem (the MIL).  He chose instead to treat its persistence.
  • He did not pay attention to the events.  He did not ask, what did she do?  What the other person did?  And so on.  He learned about the trees but did not choose to focus on it. He instead chose to search for the structure controlling the events.

What he did:

  • He sought out and chose to pay attention to treating the structure causing the persistence of the problem.  He learned to step back to see and understand the forest or “the big picture” that is driving and controlling the events.
  • He used the strength of the forces that are already within itself to create and bring about positive forces of strength (much like Aikido except in slow, consistent and determined motions). He did not attempt to redraw the structure nor break it instead.

Honored Traditions and High Ideals of Aikido:

The basic movements of Aikido are circular in nature; most attacks are linear.

The Aikidoist harmonizes with, rather than confronts, an aggressive line and converts it into a circular motion that renders attackers helpless.  Instead of using potentially crippling locks or punches, the Aikidoist trains to apply various wristlocks, arm pins, or unbalancing throws to neutralize aggressors without serious injury.

Aikido is not a sport.  There are no competitive tournaments.  Aikidoists train to better themselves without belittling others, and as Aikido seeks not to cause harm, techniques can be practiced eventually at full power without fear of injury.

Aikido is the newest of the traditional Japanese martial arts, holds the most modern outlook, and is proud of its high ideals.)

  • He determined the actions taken by the DIL needed to remain consistent as well as persistent.
  • He determined the change needed time to run its course out so that events and therefore views (mental models) may begin to shift and become ‘permanent’ with the chance for a relapse.  Our realities shape our perspectives.  This needs time to form and cannot be contrived or directed for the changes to become deep-seated enough so that the change persists with time. The longer the structure has been running viciously, the longer the time it would need to reverse it. Budget the time for it or in the first place prevent the structure from becoming entrenched negatively for too long in one way, before efforts are made at reversing it.
  • He determined that the start-up action should be nothing too big or too obvious but small changes played out consistently and so better responds naturally to reactions over time.  Otherwise the ‘frog may jump out’. Learn to boil the frog.