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Is Systemic the new Strategic?

Twenty years ago everyone seemed to be claiming to be doing strategic least it seemed that way to me when I was responsible for job gradings! I really came to think that the more times the word strategic was mentioned, the less strategic the job probably was. Then the magic word became "global"; everyone claiming their role was more important than everyone else's because "global" somehow meant "more". However recently, I have noticed that "systemic" is becoming the new "strategic", the new word to show that you are enlightened and ahead of the curve!

I am particularly sensitive to this as my days of job evaluating are long gone and, having morphed my contribution to the world a few times, I now work as a systemic leadership coach. In fact, I probably would have even left the word systemic out of that statement until quite recently. It always seemed to need more explanation. However, recently clients are telling me without any prompt that they have taken a systemic approach, and even the word "systemic constellation" seems to have gone mainstream in certain business teams.

So it's about time to not only demystify and clarify, but to share more widely the very relevant work behind the trend. Systemic, as you may well already know, refers to an approach that looks not only at the whole system, but specifically at the multifaceted relationships between the elements of that system. Whilst it is used quite widely in many fields, in organisations this typically means relationships between people and people, or people and things, concrete or abstract. For example I can have a view about my relationship with a specific colleague, with a whole team or group of customers, with my place of work or with a project I am working on.

Systemic Principles are observable truths that repeat across different systems or contexts; patterns and laws of nature and behaviour that repeat across our different stories. Whilst philosophers, writers and artists have been observing and sharing these throughout the ages, more recently they have been codified into Systemic Principles that help us to develop insights about our current and future predicaments. This codification is then applied through an approach known as Systemic Constellations.

A Systemic Constellation is a visual map of a relationship system that is relevant to a specific question. Initially developed in Germany at the end of last century, and quite widely used in family and psychotherapy work, it is growing in popularity as a way to look at complex organisational challenges. The maps can be created with inanimate objects or with people representing the elements of the system. Both enable energy and insight to come from the systemic field, revealing the systemic principles at play, and enabling movement that goes beyond what is possible from either discussion or linear analysis. Constellations also give an experience of the next step to everyone who participates, and I haven't yet met anyone who is not inspired to go further.

I have a passion to bring this approach to the Leadership challenges of our current complex and fast changing world. For me, leadership is about any activity where you are seeking to mobilise human energy in a positive direction. Those in organisations often talk about leading engagement and change; for entrepreneurs, it may be about creating value; for social activists, this may be about creating a movement.

Leadership Constellations offer an opportunity to work in a small group to explore real personal and organisational challenges, to uncover the systemic principles at play, to find the movement that needs to be made and to develop leadership strategies to take these insights forward. The approach is highly participative and grows courage and confidence.

For more information or to book a place, please contact

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