Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The balcony view for Dummies

Written by: on October 27, 2023

Strange title huh.  I want to start by saying, as I have heard by some of you say and I quote “this is hard”.  Yep, it is!  I have to be honest, I am struggling trying to find interest in the topics this semester.  I’m struggling hard, and I am also struggling with my NPO so “ugh, this is hard”!  The last few books are the first time I have needed to do hardcore research on the book instead of trying to glean understanding from any of the reading.  I know Prof. Clark has talked about this, but it’s the first time I’ve needed it and it brings mind the bookstore with all the topics “for Dummies”.  I’m not calling myself a dummy, but sometimes I wonder…just kidding.

I bought my book from a used books store in good condition, and here is how it arrived:  full of marks and notes.  I was hoping so much that it was going to help me glean more information from the inspectory reading, but alas it just confused me more.  Almost every page is written on and underlined and all the ways How to take smart notes by Sonke Ahrens, and from whomever I bought this book from might have read that book.  It does not make for an easy access for a first time reader.  So that was barrier #2, #1 being Economics and #2 this book.  Ahh, but such is the life of a doctoral student.

I found online a short, concise essay called “The Summary of the Great Transformation by Polanyi”, on WEA Pedagogy website by Asad Zaman  Clever name isn’t it, but either way it helped me understand Karls work and in case any of you need it I thought I’d give you the six point summary in case you need it. Unfortunately I am having trouble telling you where in the book I found it as this article did not cite it’s sources!  Here is a quick summary; 1. All Societies face the economic task of producing and providing for all members of society. 2. Market mechanisms for providing goods to members conflict with other social mechanisms and are harmful to society. 3.Unregulated markets are so deadly to human society and environment that creation of markets automatically sets into play movements to protect society and environment from the harm that they cause. 4. Certain ideologies, which relate to land, abour and money, and the profit motive are required for efficient functioning of markets. 5. Markets have been fragile and crisis-prone and have lurched from disater to disaster, as amply  illustrated by  GFC 2007. 6.Market economies require imposition by violence—either natural or created. [1]

If you are like me, even summing it down to these 6 points was a challenge, but I will share with you what did help me from this article.  Perhaps me not understanding Polanyi’s work has to do with my framework. Asad Zaman states in his blog summary above “A major obstacle to understanding Polanyi is the fact that living in a market society shapes our mindsets and behaviours, making it difficult to imagine radical alternatives. Understanding Polanyi requires standing outside the streams of history which have shaped mondern societies”. [2]   This stood out to me in my life experiences.  When trying to help a church from closing it’s door, we had a consultant who came in and encouraged us to take a balcony view.  He used the church building as a way to embody this practice.  The consultant told us how hard it is to see everything happening in a situation to truly see what is happening and see where we came from where we are and where we are going and to do this all at once, the best way is to go to the balcony for the view.  Zaman noted in his article that the only way to understand our economy is to “stand outside the streams of history which have shaped mondern societies”[3].

All of this to say, that our readings of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by  Weber, and this book, The Great Transformation by Polanyi are giving us a balcony view.  If we are to lead, whether it is within a church or outside of the church, we need to do as these great authors did, step back or climb the stairs and get out the frey and  see from outside what is happening and how to lead forward.

May we all (even if we have to utilize the “for dummies” approach) to speak into our areas of call from the balcony!

[1] https://weapedagogy.wordpress.com


[2] https://weapedagogy.wordpress.com


[3] https://weapedagogy.wordpress.com


About the Author


Jana Dluehosh

Jana serves as a Spiritual Care Supervisor for Signature Hospice in Portland, OR. She chairs the corporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committee as well as presents and consults with chronically ill patients on addressing Quality of Life versus and alongside Medical treatment. She has trained as a World Religions and Enneagram Spiritual Director through an Anam Cara apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living center in Bend, OR. Jana utilizes a Celtic Spirituality approach toward life as a way to find common ground with diverse populations and faith traditions. She has mentored nursing students for several years at the University of Portland in a class called Theological Perspectives on Suffering and Death, and has taught in the Graduate Counseling program at Portland Seminary in the Trauma Certificate program on Grief.

9 responses to “The balcony view for Dummies”

  1. Jenny Dooley says:

    Hi Jana, I can relate. I need the book, Economics for Dummies! I feel like I am totally lost in the weeds but hopefully understanding some helpful bits. I found your quote from Asad Zaman relatable, “A major obstacle to understanding Polanyi is the fact that living in a market society shapes our mindsets and behaviors, making it difficult to imagine radical alternatives. Understanding Polanyi requires standing outside the streams of history which have shaped modern societies.”
    I think the historical aspect of our reading these past few weeks has done quite a bit to aid my understanding of how we got here. The world did not always operate the way it does now. The immense changes just in my lifetime leave me feeling behind the times more often than not. It reminds me of a time fairly early on in my missionary career that I realized how diverse politically, economically, and religiously the nations of Southeast Asia truly were which lead me to read up on the history of each country…(it was a brief history I read) which helped me see the pond and the history of the pond I was swimming in. So helpful! I have to trust that things will fall into place in my brain with all that we are encountering this semester. Back to the quote…as you take a balcony view (of any topic or your NPO) what radical alternatives are bubbling up?

  2. mm Pam Lau says:

    You are working this out well and with understanding that perhaps these works and writings are traveling with us through liminal spaces. As you mention the balcony view, I am reminded of Ronald Heifetz (Harvard Business Review) work where he writes, “In order to remain effective when under attack, a leader must be able to get some distance from the challenging situation in order to gain perspective. The authors refer to this practice as “going to the balcony” in order to see the bigger picture and possibly break the spell of groupthink or temporary hysteria that prevails on the ground.” Excellent work bringing this into our reading!

  3. I love that phrase, “All Societies face the economic task of producing and providing for all members of society.” That phrase has stuck with me for decades! It’s been quite interesting seeing it not happen very well in so many societies.
    But what I really love was your insight about stepping back to lead forward. Hhhmmm? Stepping outside the station to understand it from a different perspective. This can apply to almost anything. Even though I don’t know much about capitalism, what if I viewed it for awhile from a different mindset, like an atheist, Russian, or poor person? Would that help me? I’m sure it would give some insight.

  4. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    I can relate! I found the last two quite challenging. I appreciate your willingness to find a connection a reach beyond the assigned reading to find a greater understanding. I love “the balcony view” advice…it’s a great suggestion, especially when things are fuzzy.

  5. mm Tim Clark says:

    Jana, so appreciate your honesty. I’m in the same boat. The last two books are certainly important, but not my first (or second, or third, etc) choice to read.

    I think the benefit of these last few weeks for me is that it has forced me to review an aspect of culture that impacts global leadership so much, but as you state, because we grew up in a certain environment we may not usually see it.

    I’m grateful that I at least have a better working knowledge of Self Regulating Markets and the Protestant Work ethic as I lead.

  6. Hello Jana! Your post really resonated with me, and I couldn’t help but smile as I read it. The idea of taking that “balcony view” is such a powerful one, isn’t it? It conjures up this image of stepping back, gaining perspective, and seeing the bigger picture. It’s like climbing up the stairs to get a bird’s-eye view of a complex situation, and it’s amazing how it can change our understanding.

    I’m glad to hear you’ve been encouraged by the notion that sometimes, it’s okay not to like what we’re reading or studying. Jason’s indifference to our preferences can indeed be liberating. Embracing that discomfort often leads to personal growth and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. It’s all about pushing our boundaries and expanding our knowledge.

    Now, here’s a question for you: How have you applied the “balcony view” approach in your own life or studies, and what surprising insights have you gained from it?

  7. Adam Harris says:

    I love your honestly Jana! This was dense material that required a-lot of chewing and chewing. One of the biggest takeaways, besides what the authors were theorizing about, was how people feel when one of us talk to them about a subject that we’re extremely familiar with, but it is foreign to them. These last few weeks have reminded me how it feels to learn something completely new which help me and my NPO tremendously.

    Getting a balcony view is incredibly enlightening. I think it is easy to get lost in the weeds in almost anything, but climbing up the mountain and looking down helps put pieces together. Good advice!

  8. mm Russell Chun says:

    Hi Jana,

    I enjoy the Balcony View, Like the Hawk (the Archer in the MCU universe observing a scene from above). But I digress.

    For an outside perspective, I spoke with the Vice President of Client services (automotive) for Epsilon (subsidiary of Publicis – a French company) Rhonda Kai, I asked the question is “capitalism sustainable.” She asked how I defined capitalism and then proceeded to say that perhaps the question is “how is capitalism changing now.” Kai stated that, Capitalism will survive in some form or another, however, there are new forces in today’s world that can help reshape capitalism.

    Enter the Generation Y (30 somethings) and Z (20’s) . These generations, said Kai, consume global information at a “staggering” pace. The consumer power they wield is tremendous and through the power of social media than can expose “industry dirty laundry” to millions of other consumers globally. Kai added that these and future generations are intensely aware of climate change, work force conditions and other socially conscious issues which impact their purchasing choices – one power. The power of “cancellation” is the other power. An example comes to mind of the “transgender” blunder of Bud Light. Through the power of social media, Budweiser has taken a major financial hit as mainstream males disengaged from the cheap (and arguably bland) beer.

    Capitalism, says Kai, will have to “Grow, Learn and give back to society.


  9. mm John Fehlen says:

    We’ve got our Zoom class in a little bit, and I’ve already logged my 8 comments…but I must briefly say for the entire world wide webs to hear: you are far from a dummy, Jana. !!!

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