Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Francesco Pimpinelli.

What are Systemic Constellations?

‘Constellation’ is a technical term used in human science to identify a system as a set of elements in relationship to each other, such that the word Constellation may refer to any set of related elements in a team, an organization, in relationships or with respect to key elements of a project.

The Systemic approach enables one to see a situation or a problem within its entire context, working with the elements in the current system, so as to understand which elements in the Constellation, or relationships amongst its elements, are functional and which ones have a disruptive influence.

On this basis, it is then possible to transform issues and obstacles to bring order and harmony into the system, by changing how the elements operate and relate to each other. In this way we move the Constellation from a problem space to a solution space.

The use of Systemic Constellations in coaching provides the opportunity of understanding reality as it is, beyond the limits set by our habits and cognitive framework, to discover new and fresh solutions to problems and to support the achievement of desired goals.

Where do they come from?

Systemic Constellations are a methodology created in Germany over the last twenty years and are now spreading around the world. The main principles have been defined by Bert Hellinger in his work on Family Constellations. He has been influenced by different disciplines and therapies such as Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Psychodrama and Virginia Satir’s family sculptures.

Hellinger has created an innovative and new approach to family therapy, which has opened up a new understanding with amazing results. He has discovered the Orders of human systems and how to use them to bring harmony, healing and reconciliation in families, groups, organisations and communities within countries. Based on Bert Hellinger’s work, Systemic Constellations have been further developed by Gunthard Weber (applications in organisations), Insa Sparrer and Matthias Varga von Kiebed (structural approach).

Nowadays Systemic Constellations are a larger set which includes Family, Organisation, Psychosomatic and Structural Constellations, to name a few applications.

Hereafter, we are specifically interested in the new field of applications which fit the context and the practice of coaching, so that what we can leverage the power of Systemic Constellations in coaching.

  • Systemic Constellations are different from Family Constellations, although they are built on the same theoretical foundation
  • They can be easily used in a business coaching practice without using the circular structure of family constellations, which is not applicable in a business context

The Systemic View:  Organisations, Teams and Individuals

An association, a company, a business function, a project, a team, just like a family, all systems are composed of related elements. They all have a structure, a goal, and are animated by visible and hidden dynamics.

A company has its own identity, mission, history, organisation and is made up of the people who work for it, with different roles, performing a variety of tasks. In every company there are hierarchies, responsibilities, rights and duties: thus creating a network of relationships amongst different actors who interact via exchanges which may be both tangible and intangible. A company is a well defined system with its physical, technical and cultural features.

In a company we have three main dimensions -organisational, team and individual – and it is important to consider them all. Life within an organisation, no matter what kind of company or which industry, is normally animated by reaching objectives, managing resources, implementing processes and procedures, dealing with changes and overcoming challenges.

Then we face the dimension of teamwork and cross functional collaboration, where alignment, clear rules, cultural attitudes, interpersonal relationships and cooperation are the critical success factors. Effective teamwork and collaboration are key enablers to organisational effectiveness and business success.

Finally, at the individual level, we deal with issues like performance, skills, attitudes, motivation and development. When we work with people we consider a whole view of the human being including body, mind and emotions. We know how people can make the difference when they are passionate and committed to what they do; the sustainable success of a company is based on all these factors, their balance, and their overall coherence.

A Systemic approach makes the Coaching process more accurate and efficient, allowing one to achieve objectives quickly and easily. It enables us to identify the really important elements to focus on during the coaching process, bringing harmony to the system so that individual energies can contribute to creating efficient and productive collaboration and higher performance, finding “ecological” solutions with no undesirable side effects that are compatible with overall future objectives.

How a Systemic View is crucial for Leaders

In our current economic context, leaders face an increasing level of complexity and an unprecedented speed of change which puts them under huge pressure to provide, in a short time, the business results expected by the stakeholders. Very often people face this new challenge with approaches that worked in the past, but are no longer relevant.

A typical case is that of companies still relying on an old business model and sales approach, missing the fact that the world has changed forever and that they are required to urgently re-align their business, according to a customer centric approach in the new global business context, with different speeds of growth, demographics, digital media, social systems and purchasing preferences.

Today’s leaders need to make a radical shift in their approach, attitudes and their view of the world. The Systemic view and Systemic Constellations can be very helpful in supporting them in this new journey in a variety of ways.

Ecology of decisions

The effect of our decisions has an effect in time and space. Time wise it is important to consider the lessons and the learning from the past, and equally as important to consider the medium long term implications of our decisions. Space wise it is important to consider the effect of changes both inside and outside the organisation.

Nowadays, what we do and the results we achieve are somehow a given, How we achieve those results makes the difference in our overall performance. This places an enormous amount of stress on people’s weaker spots which are generally related to personal leadership, emotions, personal balance, people management, cooperation and work-life integration. Emotional Intelligence is a key competence for today’s leaders. It is about being able to manage both yourself in a constructive way– personal state, emotions, presence, integrity – as well as relationships with others – social skills, cooperation and empathy.

WE perspective

When we work with others according to a fixed position rooted in our subjective point of view, role, function, desire or personal agenda, the outcome is usually conflict. When this is true the attention is on the other –You – who challenges our interest and is perceived as an obstacle. A better way is to focus on the self – I – where you take responsibility, give yourself goals, act proactively and are open to learning from the experience. Using this attitude, you are able to evaluate the pros and cons at a rational level to negotiate the best solution.

Systemic Constellations in Coaching

Systemic Constellations provides a powerful set of tools to enhance your coaching practice. They are an effective methodology for use in individual, team and group coaching, to support clients in achieving their goals. They assist in finding solutions to important issues: personal, relational, operational or organisational – for example, evaluating the consequences of a decision, clarifying steps towards a project’s success or identifying the key critical factors of a change management program.

During coaching, Constellations can powerfully impact the performance of the    individual, team or organisation, assisting the coachee to:

  • Explore a practical situation or relationship from a different perspective, to uncover how things really are and find new ways to act
  • Evaluate the effects of a specific business decision, a new strategy or an innovative business project in advance, in order to minimise risk & maximise investment
  • Transform a difficult relationship or a toxic team dynamic creating a more productive work environment
  • Experience sustainable changes in individual attitudes and behaviours by acknowledging, expanding and integrating personal resources

The unique feature of Systemic Constellation is that they enable one to transform a specific situation – personal, relational, practical – by working in the system, without the need for the presence of other people who may be involved. The change happening in our inner world will affect our outer world. The solutions steps impact reality directly as well as people even if they are not present and do not directly take part in the work.

Applications

Everything is a system and is connected, everything and everybody are defined by relationships. This idea looks familiar when we think of a biological, mechanical or abstract system of interconnected elements. But paradoxical as it may look, without the relationships we would not know we exist as human beings!

As any human being is a system made up of body, organs, emotions, feelings, ideas, beliefs and values, Systemic Constellations can be used for personal development and transformation, by working on different inner parts of an individual to mobilise resources, overcome limiting behaviours and support the achievement of a specific goal.

We can also carry out the “systemic diagnosis” of a company in order to check its health and the relationships among its functions (purchasing, logistics, production, marketing, sales, after sales support), look at the relationships with customers, partners or suppliers, and verify the effects of a reorganisation beforehand in order to implement what is useful in order to maximize the positive impact on the business.

Should you wish to experience coaching based on Systemic Constellations or you are interested in the training to learn the skills in order to use Systemic Constellations in your coaching practice, please refer to our web site www.SystemAlive.com.

About Francesco Pimpinelli

Francesco Pimpinelli has been a Coach and a practitioner of Systemic Constellations since 2002, with broad experience in utilizing this method in the business context. Through the years he has refined my competence to use it in a way which is simple and approachable to everybody.