I have come to see that those moments that most challenge my sense of ‘self’ often hold the most potential for change and growth. Such moments take me out of my comfort zone, and so face me with a contradiction – of my excitement at discovering a new edge of my personal development and opening to vulnerable-making new experiences; alongside a countervailing impulse to protect my identity at all costs and retreat to familiar behaviours and patterns of engaging with the world…


Not all concepts can be used instrumentally, like techniques. Rather than pushing ourselves to ‘do’ something with them, perhaps we can let them sit in our awareness in ways that they can do something to us… I tried to communicate this possibility creatively, through a story, on a recent Constellations training programme I led with my colleague Barbara Morgan, about the Interrupted Reaching Out Movement.

When we are learning to constellate, at first we pay great attention to developing skills and technique. While these are important, we also soon learn that they are completely insufficient – our clients are not helped as fully as they could be by the mechanics of methodology alone...

The various forms of Organisational Development, such as coaching, teambuilding, facilitation, consulting, leadership development and others, are forms of helping. Seen systemically, helping can strengthen, but it can also weaken – in part because it can establish dependence, and also the inner movement of wanting to help can put us above our clients, and therefore subtly infantilise them.

A client of mine recently laughed when I talked about “sustainable solutions” in change management. Her experience as a director of a global corporation was that she often needed consultants like me to fix things that went wrong after previous solutions had either not lasted or not delivered fully on their promise. She joked that we consultants are “all on a gravy train of fixing the fixes that fail.”

“This was ‘lightbulb learning’ for me!” said a new client I did some constellations work for recently. Constellations is an approach that is becoming increasingly popular with coaches. As a methodology, it works with the view that when we feel stuck in some part of our work or life, something is out of balance in the system (such as the team or organisation) we are a part of. If we can spot the hidden dynamics, and really acknowledge where the drag factors are historically or currently, change can happen organically.