The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


15 July 2021| Personal

‘Right to exist’ in organizations

You are brought into the world by your parents. By your father and your mother. Maybe you grew up with them, maybe with one of them, or without them, but the fact that you exist is because of them. They gave you your right to exist. They gave 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 exceeds the 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 that is a supplier for two government 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 very hard, but their efforts are never rewarded by the government authorities.

When I asked: “What was the reason to set up the organization you work for?”, she replied that it was just there all of a sudden. Nobody knows exactly. She continued: “The only thing I know, is that 10 years ago there was an organization, which kind of did the same as ours, but they weren’t successful. They had the same scope and clients as we do, but they just faded away. Like a song. And this is what is also happening to us now.”

The constellation showed that the client’s organization is literally in between the two government 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 serve them both, we try to get them closer to each other, but they don’t praise us for doing that.”

The representatives of the authorities appear to be not really interested. Whether the educational organization is placed in the middle, on the edge or is completely taken away; it doesn’t matter. “It’s great that you’re here, but we can also do without you,” is what one representative casually says.

Again, who set up the company? And has it, including its tasks, been officially given a place in the world? Has it been presented: 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 of added value?

This not only applies to organizations, but also to functions. We all know the manager who says: “Well, we will create a function for you. We’re not quite clear about it yet, but you can create your own job.” It sounds so appealing. All that freedom. But at the same time, too often we see that it is a recipe for disaster 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 presented.

Life must be actively given.

It must have a clear origin.

Or, as the French say, it must have a ‘raison d’être’, a reason for being.

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

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About the Bert Hellinger Institute

People are constantly evolving. With each other, without each other. In families, in teams, in organizations. Systemic thinking makes us aware of the “why” of our being and doing. Organizational and family constellations create room for movement. The BHI provides courses, workshops and training programs in the field of systemic work, constellations, leadership and coaching. This is how we contribute to the development of people, organizations and society.

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