Reflection 5


My experience of working through the living systems lens was that it was a wonderful relief! We were fumbling towards something for quite a long time, and then to have this interpretation put on what we were trying to do helped everything fall into place for us.

The truth is, we had just floundered into a situation through our desire to effect change. Then when you started working with us and you began to tell us about systems, we knew that it wasnít really an unusual thing to do at all! You put into words what we had actually experienced (in trying to change the system). The work we did with you gave us confidence to proceed. We realised that there was a name for what we were doing, and that it was part of a process. You gave us a way to interpret and understand it, which enabled us to hold onto it.

Coming to understand the move from a mechanistic to a living systems approach relieves you of the burden of justifying yourself and having ďoutcomesĒ all the time, and it also helped us to move away from a mechanistic way of thinking ourselves... stuff that used to matter a lot at one stage, I realise I can let go. Itís not that important.

... This approach is also very challenging, for example in terms of relationships and relationality because itís more concrete. Itís about being in relationship in different kinds of ways with all sorts of different people and places all of the time. Another thing that became more clear to me was the modularity of systems as I understand it the integrity of our system is to be respected but so are all the other systems that we interrelate with. This for me is strongly connected with ďthe integrity of creationĒ as a phrase, which is so used now that it is getting to be abused.

... In some ways this way of working slows me up, because Iím a practical Ďdo-erí. So I find myself slowing myself down especially when I go rams-dam at something, trying to get it done. Then I remind myself that thereís stuff to be brought along here thatís more important. And every so often it catches me when I start being hierarchical and dictatorial - which Iím quite capable of being! But it also gives me permission to be more idealistic and to dream a little bit as well. And because Iím often working with people who are looking at things quite mechanistically, Iím able to slow the thing down and point out that the process is just as important as the outcome.

... Itís hard to be faithful to it all the time. Itís challenging to trust the process consistently and not to get sucked into other peopleís lack of trust, or to wait until everyone knows what weíre talking about. Some people have hooked into this way of thinking and working more quickly and with more conviction than others...

... And it can be difficult to talk to other people about it because often, they just want to get on with things... But it also helps me to see why things sometimes donít work. For example, a project Iím aware of which is floundering because the group are not managing to bring the different parts of the system into the right kind of relationship. And every so often, things flop on them...

... At one level itís difficult to know if (our change) has had a global impact, but itís moving in that direction. What we actually did and held onto over those years has had a profound affect on the whole organisation, and that can never be undone because it raised questions - and hackles - everywhere. A lot of people are beginning to talk the same way now and are helped to see that moving in this direction is the way forward.

... Overall, weíre very pleased with it all, and weíre delighted that this is the road weíre on.


Reflection 1
on embracing the chaos of change

Reflection 2
on the transforming effects of a systems perspective

Reflection 3
inspired to attempt big change

Reflection 4
the systems ‘lens’ - a breath of fresh air

Reflection 5
the relief and challenge of working systemically

Reflection 6
on creating internal cohesion on a large scale

Reflection 7
on learning from different perspectives

Reflection 8
from ‘fixing what's broken’ to ‘listening to patterns’

Reflection 9
confirmed and inspired by our own work

Reflection 10
really facing up to the challenge of change

changing the way
you change