Love & Change

Love & Change

The leadership of change is a complicated endeavor. If we look inwardly, we might see that when we try to change someone or something, implicit in our attempt is an often secret judgment: that we ourselves, or someone, or something is not enough, just as is... We often see who or what we would like to change either as problematic, or believe that people and situations could benefit from some improvement. Even our heartfelt attempts to help someone subtly suggest that we are putting ourselves above them. If we want people and organisations to fulfil their potential – arguably, a helpful intention and core to the existence of many companies’ Learning and Development functions and business strategies – in our attempts to help, we often come from an implicit critique of things as they are.

This is perhaps best illustrated through a simple meditation… Imagine your company standing before you, represented by a single person. Say to them sentences like these: “You need to change. You are not doing well enough. You must improve. Make more money. Do more with less. I want to see more performance improvements. Grow more quickly. Be more competitive…” How do you imagine they would respond? How secure do you think the relationship is?

Now imagine someone you love standing in front of you, and you say words like these to them: “I love you exactly as you are. I enjoy you just as you are. I feel happy because you are you. I say yes to you. I consent to you exactly as you are. Please never change.’ How much more trust and freedom would these words afford?

Which of these two approaches is more likely to create the conditions where change might suddenly occur?

Of course, there are differences between the nature and qualities of love in family systems and love in organisations. Yet perhaps we and our clients might fare better when coaching and consulting around organisational change if we consider, for a moment, what it takes to love an organisation to life? Many change agendas in management, consulting, coaching, personal development and therapy, come from this sense (on the part of the client or the helping professional, or both) of a problem to be solved. Furthermore, our problem-solving mindset is usually predicated on a mechanistic frame of reference, founded firmly in an individualistic paradigm.

It is as though, to change someone - to incite an individual, team or whole business to shift from where they are now to where they need to be next, we imagine throwing a stone… A different orientation is to ask what conditions are required to support organisational flourishing? What are the necessary preconditions for people and companies to be healthy? ‘Health’ in this context means that employees feel good and are able to work effectively, and that the organisation fulfils its purpose, evidenced by a lively and mutually-profitable exchange with its customers and suppliers. This worldview represents a ‘living systems’ perspective on change, and is more akin to releasing a bird than throwing a stone. Naturally, we want the bird to fly in a particular direction, and so it is helpful if we understand certain systemic dynamics – underlying principles that might help us influence the flightpath of change. In Constellations theory, these systemic principles that support organisational flourishing are called ‘orders’. The work of a constellation is to reduce systemic drag by realigning the ordering principles, by restoring the possibilities for more harmonious flow. When things do not flow as well as they might, we see that these underlying systemic regularities have been violated, and the system responds with performance loss, unhelpful relationship dynamics, and other forms of ‘entanglement’.

To learn more about the stance of a Constellator, and about the links between coaching and constellating, come to a workshop on 1st-2nd November 2016.

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