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Systemic Patterns

Common sense suggests that when we are about to explore new solutions or paths, unknown territories or experience a process of transformation, we will invariably have to face a greater number of unknown, unpleasant or complex factors to say the least. This is a core reality when thinking about your business or vision.

Faced with this challenge, it is helpful to observe unconscious business dynamics which have a decisive influence on how an organisation contributes to hinder its own development, its capacity for change and therefore the culture of innovation. In fact, the most avant-garde fields of organisational and leadership thinking consider organizations as living entities and therefore we require new ways of understanding them so we can then foster their healthy development. (1)

From the perspective of our model for leadership, we understand the age-old phrase “The Earth and the King Are One” (2) as a telling piece about how the unconscious influence of the leader defines culture, strategies, relationships, operations, and results in organizations, any organization, be it a company, a school, charity or an entire country. Let us explore, then, the systemic archetypes (3) that generally operate unconsciously in the organizational culture and which prevent a healthy development in the company or entity, as well as the innovation culture necessary for its survival:

  • “No time”: The organization/leadership looses the necessary agility to make effective use of this non-renewable resource. It is possible to mention several examples but perhaps it is unnecessary to understand for any seasoned businessman; what can be concluded from this pattern is that whoever does not have time, is essentially a bad administrator: the urgent and immediate above the transcendental and important.

  • "Talking without Walking" Intentions, values, commitments are postponed, ignored or canceled altogether. It is frequent that within this pattern there is the need to look good or pretend for ulterior purposes, so that the ideal environments to achieve projects are not generated and, yes, a fertile field for politics and corrupt practices.

  • “Who’s in charge?" It reflects the inability to execute or delegate initiatives or projects, creating a poor organization, politicking. conflicts and waste of resources. The power vacuum also fosters corruption and low-quality practices, as there are no aligned values and no consistent operation with what is desired.

  • "Solutions over solutions" is the practice of implementing palliative solutions postponing a definitive resolution to a fundamental problem. The problem with this pattern is the recurrence of palliatives that, in turn, become problems in the medium and long term.

  • "Tragedy of the commons" It is a way of undermining development with the constant allocation of limited resources to constant demands without devoting resources to strategic or priority needs to create favorable conditions to obtain more resources and achieve long-term objectives.

This previous patterns offer a new awareness on how business is conducted and might put place the finger on a sore spot and then we can infer that any effort to implement an innovative adventure will be a challenge of great proportions and risks.

Creating the initial conditions for successful change invites us to reconsider the patterns and habits that already exist in the leadership style or the organization if we are to be successful in our missions. This applies equally to a large corporation as to an SME, and being in the latter, with particular emphasis on start-ups, creating life-and-death situations. Sometimes innovation is required to create minimum conditions for survival, which seems to be the rule in several national economies.

We are inmersed in a new era where organizations and markets will present increasing challenges and from the perspective of leadership, the need to renew our capacities, understanding and tools that offer solutions will be essential.

Albert Einstein was right and timely when he said that "no significant problem will be solved by the same level of thinking that created it." Perhaps along with these patterns, there is a contrasting experience to better understand some of the situations presently operating in your organization.

(1) A very useful book and reference for this article is "The Fifth Discipline" by Peter Senge.

(2) This old adage, from our model, is verified through our organizational and leadership consulting processes. Everything starts from the mental structures of the leader and that is where our work offers the best solutions in a sustainable way.

(3) An archetype is an unconscious behavior model that operates under certain identity parameters and applies to people, organizations, and cultures. See the work of Carl Gustav Jung. In the case of systems, they are patterns that denote the unconscious behaviors of a living organization, such as the company.

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