By Dean Mason, Enakt June 2014
In one of my recent workshops a fellow management consultant jokingly referred to systemic constellation work as ‘black magic’. It was in jest that he added the ‘black’, he is a huge fan of the ‘magic’ this work brings, but his off-the-cuff comment highlights the distance we have yet to travel. This powerful and incisive management tool is only beginning to enter Australia’s public and private corporate world. Yet in Europe it is commonly utilized by individuals, commercial and public organisations both big and small to address a myriad of issues.
The systemic approach dictates that any symptom concerning a client has an underlying disorder or imbalance giving rise to it. Each human system, be it a place of work, a business entity, or an individual’s vocation is always striving for balance. In family constellation work, when grandparents, parents, and children are held by the client in their rightful place, being respected, and experiencing a balance of giving and taking, the love flows. So too in organisational work, a system’s elements such as, ‘business owner’, ‘resources’, ‘products & services’, ‘marketing’, and ‘clients’ need to be held in the right order, in the client’s mind at least, for the client to positively address the issue that they are adversely affected by.
The following three client cases help to briefly illustrate how the constellation method, that of using other people to represent different elements of the client’s system, works. In particular, these examples relate to single person businesses.
Problem: Client A is having enormous difficulty getting new customers for her specialist consulting service. She has no desire to do the marketing that she knows she needs to do, but she can’t break through this lack of desire or find an effective approach. She speaks of needing cashflow so she can focus on the work rather than the marketing.
What the constellation showed: Client A’s inner focus had no energy for her own service offering or for the needs of her prospective clients. Instead, strong energy was only found when her former career as a popular public trainer was brought into the picture. In systemic terms, her former career was being excluded (in her inner focus) but was still demanding her attention in ways she had not recognized and had resulted in her having this sense of there being an ‘enormous difficulty’.
Outcome: Client A gained a strong insight into how much she was still grieving the loss of her former career and found two relatively easy steps she could take to respect this loss and to use it as fuel (thereby including it where it had been previously excluded) for achieving new success with her new service and with new clients.
Problem: Client B had invested millions of dollars in developing a new product and was getting close to launching it in the market. He was physically, financially and emotionally exhausted by the whole process and was now seriously lacking the energy he needed to do the simple tasks that still needed doing. Things were getting desperate, bankruptcy would ensue if he did not muster the energy he needed, and quickly.
What the constellation showed: Client B was so in love with the product, it was like he could not let it out of his sight. What is more, the product was enjoying an almost superior position. In systemic terms, this was out of order, the product was too big and the business owner (client B) as too small. As a result, he was being almost strangled by the situation. Just as serious, the clients were fast losing interest in the product.
Outcome: It was a slow and tentative process for Client B to see what was going on in the constellation. At first he disputed his representative’s behavior as being inaccurate, but soon he began to see some element of truth. We are yet to see how much this worked for the client in business terms, but his energy significantly improved during the workshop. He left with a few clear steps that, if he takes, are likely to keep the product in the correct order (ie, much smaller than him and ready to go to the clients) in his business life and therefore allow his energy to be strong.
Problem: Client C has a history of business successes and failures – the ‘fabulous roller coaster’ he calls it. He is currently working out how to extricate himself from another failure so he can consider a new venture, but this pattern of behavior is really bothering him. What bothers him most is that every failure has been preceded by him listening to another person more than his own instincts. He wants to break this pattern.
What the constellation showed: Client C had great difficulty focusing on his own business instinct. In systemic terms, there was an imbalance in give and take. Part of him was saying how much success his business instinct had created (ie had given him), and the constellation confirmed that, but another part of him was not paying it any respect (ie giving it something back) for the role it had played and that it might play in future.
Outcome: This was a relatively smooth awakening for client C. He was comfortable acknowledging how little attention and understanding he had given his own business instinct (ie in balance with the success he had enjoyed from it) in the past, and was confident he could address this in the future. His current business interest (the latest ‘failure’) was also represented in the constellation and clearly indicated that with Client C more attentive to his business instinct, this current venture will be much healthier and easier to manage.