The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


9 September 2020| Organizational Constellations

When does someone no longer belong to the organization system?

I can hear myself explain it to students and clients: in families, it is quite clear when someone does or does not belong to the family system. You are born in it. You die in it. That is it. You are part of the system, alive or dead, even if there are plenty of examples where someone feels he does not belong. Okay, with divorces and patchwork families, there might be a lack of clarity around belonging and yet, it is “easy” if you compare it to how “belonging” works in an organizational system.

Even a question such as: when does someone become part of the system? From the moment you decide to participate? From your first day of work? And when does someone stop being part of the system? From the moment you feel inside, “I’m done here”? Or your last working day? Or later, because you may still be required to be available to answers questions your successor might have?

Take our own situation. The founder of the Bert Hellinger Institute Netherlands (BHIN), Jan Jacob Stam, has left. As befits us systemically, we have organized a beautiful farewell day with rituals. We shared memories, let go of strings, took our places, cried, laughed, sang a tribute and felt new movements.

Of course, Jan Jacob will remain forever connected to the history of the BHIN, both as the founder, as the entrepreneur who developed and advanced the BHIN and the systemic phenomenological work and because of everything else he has contributed and shared.

Is he still or is he no longer part of the BHIN system? It feels as if Jan Jacob has really detached himself from our system from his point of view, perhaps even already from the moment he felt “I’m done here”. But how does the organizational system as a whole react to his departure? And each colleague individually? Is the system as a whole and are the colleagues in it ready to let him go?

And if the founder who was so important for everything that has become possible, leaves the system, can you really separate from each other in one go?
It is a wonderful quest to be able to experience this ourselves. To experience how the departure of Jan Jacob on the one hand creates an enormous amount of space, for the whole, for each of us as parts of the system. It creates impulses to develop, on a small and large scale, and in that sense it gives freedom. On the other hand, we experience a loss, we feel sad about what is no more and will never be, we are at times angry and we feel trapped.

We are going through a turbulent time. And we do lose each other sometimes. But until now, we keep finding each other again. And it will probably take a while, because our entire system, our beloved Bert Hellinger Institute Netherlands, including ourselves as persons in it, has been shaken and will be reshaped into what it wants to become.


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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.

For up-and-coming and established leaders. An initiative of the Bert Hellinger Institute.