The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


Maaike van der Heiden

Trainer and compiler with in-company training and coaching and in training

15 July 2021| Personal

‘Right to exist’ in organizations

You are brought into the world through your parents. Your father and your mother. Maybe you grew up with them, maybe with one of them, maybe with the absence of both, but the fact that you exist is because of them. They have given you your right to exist. They have given you ‘life’.

But what about organizations? What about teams? Or functions?

As always, Google has answers. Several business experts, or business sites proclaim the following:

“An organization has a right to exist if it makes a profit.” Or, “An organization has a right to exist if it creates value, and this value creation results in generating profit that exceed costs and fees. This added value can be for customers, employees, stakeholders, founders, etc.”

Of course, this has a truth in itself.

But how should we look at it from a systemic perspective?

Last week I facilitated a client, who works in an educational organization, which is a supplier for two governmental authorities. She told me that many employees are leaving. That they can no longer bear it, because whatever they do, they do not feel seen or heard. They are working their heads off, but it will never be rewarded by the governmental authorities.

To my question: “What was the inducement to start the organization you work for?” She replied that it was just there all of a sudden. Nobody knows exactly. She added: “The only thing I know is that 10 years ago there was an organization, which was kind of the same as ours, but they didn’t succeed. They had the same scope and clients as we have, but they faded out. Like a song. This is also happening to us these days.”

The constellation showed that the organization of the client is literally in between the two governmental authorities, who are both looking away and showing their backs to each other. Looking at the representative of the client’s organization, I was wondering what they are trying to do for the system as a whole. What is their systemic function in this triangle? She looked at it and said: “That’s exactly how it is. We’re the glue, we are serving them both, trying to get them closer to each other, but they won’t give any applause.”

The representatives of the authorities appear not to be really interested. Whether the educational organization is placed in the middle, on the edge or disappears completely; it does not matter. “It’s great that you’re here, but we can also do without,” is a casual comment from a representative.

Then, who founded the company? And has it been, including its tasks, officially put into the world? Announced as being: this is organization X, with these tasks and these functions?

“No,” she sighed, looking at the constellation. “Now I understand why we don’t feel seen.”

If you are not officially ‘born’, if your father or mother (or in the case of organizations the founder, director or team manager) does not officially introduce you to the world, how can you really exist?

How can you grow up and thrive?

How can you be an added value?

This applies not only to organizations, but also to functions. We all know the manager who says: “Well, we will create a function for you. It is not clear yet, but you can create your own job.” It sounds so appealing. All that freedom. And at the same time, too often we see that it is a good recipe for hassle in the longer term.

Existence in organizations.

It seems that just like families; a function, a department, an organization, they need to be born and declared.

Life must be given actively.

A clear origin.

As the French say: ‘Raison d’être’. A reason for being.

So that I, or we, can take our existence.

Do you want to learn more about systemic work and constellations?

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