Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Organizational Constellations

The topic of organizational constellations sounds stellar and somewhat removed from the mundane problems we are surrounded by every day of our lives. Yet, you will be surprised how practical and applicable this change management tool can be in your professional or personal setting. IE HR Club organized a workshop last week to introduce the students and alumni to the relatively new organizational development technique - Organizational Constellations. More than 25 people attended, which, as I understood, was already a bit too much for this type of an intervention, but it was an excellent setup for academic purposes.

First of all, fundamentals:

  • a constellation is a system (small wonder, the father of the methodology being German...)
  • the roots go back to the tribal ways of solving problems, it is intuitive and relationship-based.
  • organizations are governed by the laws of a family system, the laws of give-and-take.
  • the concept of belonging (pertenencia) is pivotal - who belongs to a particular constellation? The major difference between an organization and a family is that unlike kinship, belonging to other social structures is voluntary.
  • "what happens in Togo, stays in Togo". Confidentiality is essential to make sure there is enough trust between the participants to start the energy flowing.
After a short theoretical introduction, we moved to the most interesting: mapping out our own constellations, using specific symbols for males, females and events. The key characteristic of the picture is in which direction the constellation members are looking. The term in Spanish is radiografía,  not sure what the appropriate equivalent in English would be, but I think I will not be far away from the truth if we call it a radiogram. One of the participants was asked to draw the picture on the board and then... he was asked to substitute the drawn figures on the board with live people in the class, making sure that they are arranged in exactly the same formation as the sketch.

The next step was to ask the "models" how they felt in those positions and after that allow them to change places, so that they feel more comfortable. That provided the grounds for constructive dialogue around the actual problems within the team, even though none of the "models" was familiar with the situation. That proved that the concept really worked and the participants were truly amazed by the energy created by this seemingly simple exercise.

This can serve as the initial phase in group coaching. There are many modifications of the approach - new elements can be added into the system (e.g. a client or a task). What is critical to understand is that everyone has his or her perspective on what is happening in the organization and no one person has the whole picture. Organizational Constellations therefore is another tool to build a shared vision in a company - a task so many fail to achieve.

For those who are interested, here are the short bios of the speakers (sorry, in Spanish):
MONICA LARRABEITI es actualmente Coach Personal, Ejecutivo, de Relaciones y Equipos. Tiene consulta propia además de colaborar con varias empresas, entre ellas “Empresas con AlmaÒ”, en proyectos de coaching tanto individual como de equipos, trabajando en sectores tan diversos como telecomunicaciones, consultoras, sector inmobiliario, farmacéutico y petroquímico. Ha hecho coaching tanto a miembros de comités de dirección como mandos intermedios para temas de gestión de equipos, conciliación laboral, evaluación de desempeño, cambios de trabajo como ascensos o despidos etc. En 2004 conoció las Constelaciones Familiares de la mano de Svagito Liebermaster y desde entonces ha continuado ampliado su conocimiento de esta herramienta y empleándola con éxito en su trabajo. Monica es Licenciada en Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales por la Universidad de Deusto y anteriormente trabajo durante 16 años en Procter & Gamble

PILAR PARDO CEMBRANO, coach y consultora, se define como el Alma Mater de “Empresas Con AlmaÒ”. Su continua inquietud sobre el desarrollo de las organizaciones con el objetivo de mejorar su eficiencia, mejorando también la integración de la vida personal y laboral le lleva a fundar “Empresas Con AlmaÒ” con el propósito de proporcionar un servicio integral a aquellas empresas que entiendan que las personas son parte fundamental de su éxito y quieran hacer de ello su ventaja competitiva. Para ello utiliza además de su experiencia profesional, estudió Ingeniería Industrial y trabajo en Procter & Gamble durante mas de 13 años en áreas tan diversas como Marketing, Logística, Ingeniería y Producción en varios países, sus estudios sobre Liderazgo, Constelaciones tanto Familiares como Organizacionales, PNL y Consultoría Sistémica entre otros. 

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