Het fundament van systemisch fenomenologisch werk



Barbara Hoogenboom

Barbara Hoogenboom

Is mede-eigenaar van en opleider bij het Bert Hellinger instituut Nederland.


Latvia: Transformation starts with the courage to look at the past…

Two and a half years after the first training System Dynamics in Organizations, the time is ripe: to offer a continuation, a master training for organizational constellations.

A few weeks before this training starts, unexpectedly 20% of the participants withdraw one by one. What does this tell us? Would it be too exciting or scary even to take part in this training?

We decide to let go of the training as we had planned, and to allow us a bit of ‘going out of our comfort zones’. Apparently, this is what it asks of the participants, and thus of us.

We start the first day with the 10 women (!) who apparently felt the call and the courage to come and we invite them into an adventure instead of a training…

The group consists of a mix of professionals who work as consultants as well as directors, leaders or HR experts within organizations. They share what they sense that organizations ask of them when doing systemic work of any kind, what they meet in organizations and where they feel their limits are. In general, the answers are described as follows: organizations want us to take all responsibility, want us to create solutions and it feels as a mission impossible. Organizations (leaders and employees in them) in general seem not to be able to allow emotions, there is focus on results, efficiency and control, little trust and sharing, organizations seem to have a forward energy and yet they are stuck.

The question arose: how can these professionals be of value to organizations without losing themselves or finding themselves in a situation where they, as leaders or consultants, are taking too much on them? It feels like serving an organization requires one’s freedom being taken away? In a country, where freedom has been taken away and fought for in the most severe thinkable ways several times in the history, it seems that freedom is still an unconscious topic in organizational lives nowadays in different forms.

We make a new focus and contract for this training: to deepen the skills of systemic facilitation in organizations and what it asks of us as facilitators and instruments of systemic work.

Through introductions, constellations and exercises around potential and transformation, we all start to feel and understand it: when you want to be an instrument in what systemic work can bring, if organizations want to get out of the stuckness, there are no quick tools or fixes. It seems no longer possible to protect ourselves in shutting off from that, what lays in the background of stuckness and moving forward at the same time, origin and history of many todays’ organizational systemic issues here – what happened in the period of 1941-1991 and after.

This leads us to conversations about how the history of Latvia and the circumstances around the origin of organizations influences the symptoms and patterns today in organizations. For public and governmental organizations, freedom movement and proclamation of Latvia meant switching to a completely new regime in/after 1991. Private organizations simply did not exist before 1991, all new business organizations started from scratch. It seems that they were found from a breakdown of one system and freedom fighting energy, from disbalance, to compensate for the repressive years, where properties, lives and human potential was taken away. How could the period where in organizations and society in general one could not question the hierarchy or express own opinion, affect the organizational systems and people in them today?

This open conversation asks the maximum of everyone in the group. Survival mechanism of the personal/unit conscience in action!

Two and a half years ago I (Barbara) learned that the ‘glass ceiling’ for women that we know so well in the Netherlands, are different in Latvia. Women are strong, both in their families and in leadership positions in organizations. Most likely it is rooted in the period as from WWII which had a lot of male casualties. This left the women to be strong and take place also for their men.

And then, on the last afternoon of this first training module, unexpectedly, we all of the sudden find ourselves in a constellation on the loss of these men, these soldiers. Tears are cried, stored energy is released, potential that was left behind with these men is retrieved and unconscious promises to wanting to give these men a place are revised.

Big, big work.

Barbara Hoogenboom
Iveta Apine

October 13, 2019.

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