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Systemic Constellation as a Supportive Tool for Dealing with Change

1 May 2011
Noga Chipman-Steinwartz
leaves changing color

As knowledge managers, we are dealing many times with the objections, which arise as a part of the natural process of change. At the center of many organizations change initiatives are the related problems of how to overcome resistance to change and how to improve working relationships and organization engagement. As such, we are trying to guide an organization towards an understanding of knowledge as an organizational asset so that it can be managed for maximal benefit. In spite of our best effort, we often have a feeling that something draws us back and not allow us to form an operational plan. One of the common challenges we face as knowledge managers are to identify the source of being “stuck,” because the "hidden" sources that usually unseen or non discussed; however, their influence is felt.


The Organizational Consulting field offers many tools to identify the causes of the problem. One of the tools that have recently gained momentum is a Systemic Constellation method. This method, originally used as a tool for family therapy, and has recently been expanded to different areas, such as organization, management, and consulting.


Systemic Constellation” is a method developed by Bert Hellinger and its purpose to uncover and resolve hidden dynamics and relationships within the system. At its base, constellation takes place in a room with open space; this means; space where the participants can "stand" in a way that simulates interplay among an involved group. This method claims that when people freely placed in space, a “spatial identification” is created from their feelings and experiences (in other words, close/far, facing forward/facing back, near one / next to, etc.). This method provides an immediate experience of all factors, and their influences lead to deep insights. Working with the constellation in the organization reveals us mutual effects of various factors of the problem, and physically demonstrates the sources for the stagnant situation. As well identifies unspoken obstacles and recruits hidden knowledge towards the solution.

In a Systemic Constellation workshop, instructed by Ronit Kortz, an organizational psychologist, at IPPA conference, she described the position that was intended to reveal the source of resistance to the product’s implementation process. As part of the activity, representatives symbolize the key roles in the process (CEO, salespeople, development and customer service people) and as well as representatives of non-human group such as the product itself, its business potential and project goals.The way in which the representatives were placed in the room and from the angle, in which they chose to turn their faces or backs, it was possible to learn a lot about the relationship between different groups. For example, it seemed that the VPO face was facing towards the business potential in contrast to the salesmen’s faces facing to the customers. From this stage, it was clear that the various groups were participating in the process, centering their efforts in different directions and aren’t synchronized among themselves.

In a conversation and review held after the constellation, it became clear that from the historical point of view there were many attempts to develop innovative products that failed, to which the young VPO was not aware of. Company workers perceived the situation as a situation in which he does not welcome anything that was in the company before his arrival. In advance, it seemed that the problems were questions of leadership, discipline or relationship, but the constellation identified another source for the stagnant process.From our experience, in a field of knowledge management, there are challenges such as implementing new systems, achieving cooperation among board members, knowledge management team members and workers, promoting processes, consolidating an organizational culture that supports sharing and learning.Many times, organizational knowledge managers contact us for advice in a situation when they are dealing with the passive or active objection, and the processes do not advance in the best way.Furthermore, they often assume that the reason for the delay is apparent to them, and they ask for our advice only for the best way to deal with it. In these situations, the systematic constellation can be used to identify objections and unpredictable dynamics.It is important to note that even in cases when the reason for the delay or objection is in fact, often the best way to evoke motivation for a feeding solution is to place the team members in the "space" and allow them to express their feelings and to discuss what is bothering them in relation to the process.

In conclusion, Systemic Constellation is one of the innovative and interesting tools used for both diagnosis and solution of hidden dynamics and objections in the “stuck” processes. Recently, we have begun using this technique, in situations suitable for organizations. It is opened us a door to the meaningful discussion, a broad understanding of sharing feelings and motives from all groups involved in the process. The responses and actions that followed the experiment were positive and pointed out the immense potential embodied in the method.

Sources: IFA 2011 Conference, Systemic Constellation, Ronit Kurtz,Organizational Psychology

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