A constellation is an external map of an internal and implicit reality. It is a method that taps into the intuitive knowing that we all have – the “felt sense” of a situation.
It is a process in which a systemic facilitator works with an individual client in service of a question or an intention that the issue holder brings. It might be something related to the current role in the organization: “How do I fully step into the authority of my role as a manager?” or something related to patterns that keep repeating: “What is happening between the sales and the production department that they keep having conflicts?”.
At the beginning, the facilitator accompanies the client in exploring the current situation to get a sense of what are the important elements that are connected to the question or intention – for example – the sales manager, the production manager, and the clients.
Afterwards, the client is invited to pick participants from the group to represent these elements and sets them up in relation to one another in a way that expresses their felt sense of the current situation.
The facilitator then invites the client to sit back, be fully present and observe what goes on between the representatives. This heightened attention serves the question because it enables the client to get a bigger and more attuned picture of what is going on. With that, comes a deeper understanding of “what is actually going on in this system?” and “how does this problem or dynamic make sense in the bigger picture?”. “Who or what does it serve?”
This is where the constellation moves from being an X-ray vision of what is happening below skin level, to being a systemically informed intervention that addresses the flow of information, energy and leadership.
The facilitator uses short and revealing sentences that address the ways we unknowingly resist the flow of energy towards the purpose of the organization and, implicitly, the future. The unresolved issues of the organization show up in the dynamics that entangle various members of the system. And, even though these members might not have been directly involved in what happened There and Then, they unknowingly step into a repeating pattern that is meant to maintain “the past in the present” until it is acknowledged and fully integrated in the awareness of leaders.
“Nothing Ever Goes Away Until It Has Taught Us What We Need to Know – Pema Chodron
Exploring entanglements in which the present compensates for something being off balance or excluded in the past or discovering deeply held loyalties to members or important elements of the system that have been denied a respected place in the hearts and minds of people within the organization, makes flow possible because it frees people of what they were unconsciously trying to do for the system.
Energy becomes available and people can really look towards the future and the key elements the organization serves – clients, purpose, people. This is the land of possibilities that we can reach during a constellation. It is the place where we need to ask ourselves “What becomes possible now in this new set up?”. It is the emergent future, that we, as leaders, are invited to serve through the work and services of our organizations.
Taking part in a constellation is a very rich learning process that allows us to see the essence of the paradox we are all struggling with – we unknowingly produce outcomes that we do not actually want and, that while doing so, we are driven by powerful systemic forces that serve the coherence of the whole organization, forces that do not submit to individual will – much like the weather and gravity.
While taking part in a constellation we discover a deeper truth about the problems we are faced with. We understand that problems want to be understood, not solved. This means that instead of trying to make a different reality than the one we are confronted with, the constellation process requires our attunement into reality as it is and offers a context in which we deeply understand “how is this problem a solution?”
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. T. S. Eliot