An Explanation of Organizational Constellations

What is an organizational constellation?

An organizational constellation is a research method, which is based on Systems Thinking or Systemic Work. This school of thought was introduced by Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist, in the eighties and nineties of the last century.

Originally, Hellinger focused his attention on setting up constellations within family settings: the so-called family constellations, which are meant to research the entanglements in family systems and to eventually disentangle the family blockages.

Nowadays, this method is also applied in organizational settings, where it’s labeled as organizational constellations. This method of research is primarily used to solve stubborn organizational issues.

When is an organizational appropriate to apply?

  • When certain patterns reoccur and persist, both in time and at multiple spots in the organization.
  • The causes of the problems are unclear.
  • Interventions don’t work or aren’t constructive.
  • Energy seems to leak away, even when new staff arrives.

The 5 basic needs of systems
Organizational systems have 5 basic needs, according to the systemic approach:

  1. The origins of the organization should be considered as points of departure.
  2. Acknowledgment of the organizational history is the foundation of the present.
  3. Everything and everyone who belongs to the system has the right of a clear position.
  4. Within the structuring of the whole, every part has its own spot.
  5. There is a fair balance between giving and receiving.

Failure to appreciate one or more needs can lead to a loss of energy and a decreased ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

How does an organizational constellation work?
An organizational constellation starts with a question of a client regarding his or her business, team, organization.

An organizational constellation will spatially display an organization, by using people. Employees, departments, units, products, goals etc. are portrayed by representatives and positioned in a room. Or in some cases, the members of the organization will be part in the organizational constellation.

After being positioned in the room, the representatives will become aware of information, emotions or attitudes of the client’s organizational system. By moving the representatives around and questioning them, underlying aspects and entanglements are brought to light.

Subsequently, the facilitator will work with the representatives to identify the underlying cause of the issues, brought in by the client, and to eventually find a solution.

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