TEN SYSTEM LAWS

THE TEN SYSTEM LAWS

For us, the ten system laws are the basic needs that must be met in a system in order for a system to survive and function. The ten system laws are sorted according to the strength of their importance and effect.

THE TEN SYSTEM LAWS

For us, the ten system laws are the basic needs that must be met in a system in order for a system to survive and function. The ten system laws are sorted according to the strength of their importance and effect.

SYSTEM LAW 1: BELONGING

The most important system law is „belonging to one’s own system“, because that means survival. This is still the case today in the animal kingdom, and we bring along this heritage, which is stored in our behavioral programs.

All people who belong and have belonged to a system must be allowed to belong to it. Belonging does not expire. The founding father is just as much a part of it today as the young managing director. The same applies to retired employees. It strengthens the system if you remember them and wish them well, because they are still the roots of the system today.

Especially in school time, everyone was excluded once, be it that he was not invited for his birthday or that he was not allowed to play. If you remember, the unpleasant hurt feelings come up again.

A typical example of exclusion in the world of work is when an employee has a conflict with a colleague and goes to the supervisor without informing the colleague beforehand. The colleague feels passed over and a loss of trust or even mistrust occurs.

Example of escalation management: Escalation management is a process in which the responsibility for a decision is delegated in a controlled manner to the hierarchically higher level (superior) if no agreement is possible in a conflict situation at the lower decision levels. It presupposes that the parties to the conflict are each informed that escalation is taking place.

If two employees have a conflict and one of them goes to the boss for a solution, he must inform the other employee in advance that he contacts the superior in order to comply with the first system law „Right to belong (no exclusion)“.

 

And the boss should first of all ask the employee whether his colleague knows that he is presenting the topic to the boss. If there is an exclusion, the boss should not deal with the topic, but first the exclusion should be lifted. However, if the boss listens to the topic, he also excludes the employee.

In summary, the optimal procedure is to avoid exclusion:
1) One employee informs the other that he or she is visiting the boss on the subject.
2) The boss asks whether the other employee is informed.
3) The boss asks one employee and then the other, or he talks to both.

The same procedure must be followed when it comes to escalation across hierarchical levels.

If there is an unsolvable conflict between the employee and the head of department, the employee must inform the head of department in advance that the employee is visiting the managing director on the subject. And the managing director should also ask whether the head of department knows about it. From a systemic point of view, the employee has permission to escalate if the entire system or he or she is in danger.

Conclusion: In order to avoid exclusion, both parties to the conflict should go to the higher level together.

For example Job debut party: every company has written and unwritten laws. Every new employee should ask for and know them. If the new employee does not ask about the rules of the company, he or she may invite only certain employees or his or her team to the opening ceremony, although it is customary there to invite the entire department. This leads to the exclusion of employees who usually feel so badly hurt that they want to exclude the new employee immediately.

Example of escalation management: Escalation management is a process in which the responsibility for a decision is delegated in a controlled manner to the hierarchically higher level (superior) if no agreement is possible in a conflict situation at the lower decision levels. It presupposes that the parties to the conflict are each informed that escalation is taking place.

If two employees have a conflict and one of them goes to the boss for a solution, he must inform the other employee in advance that he contacts the superior in order to comply with the first system law „Right to belong (no exclusion)“.

And the boss should first of all ask the employee whether his colleague knows that he is presenting the topic to the boss. If there is an exclusion, the boss should not deal with the topic, but first the exclusion should be lifted. However, if the boss listens to the topic, he also excludes the employee.

In summary, the optimal procedure is to avoid exclusion:
1) One employee informs the other that he or she is visiting the boss on the subject.
2) The boss asks whether the other employee is informed.
3) The boss asks one employee and then the other, or he talks to both.

The same procedure must be followed when it comes to escalation across hierarchical levels.

If there is an unsolvable conflict between the employee and the head of department, the employee must inform the head of department in advance that the employee is visiting the managing director on the subject. And the managing director should also ask whether the head of department knows about it. From a systemic point of view, the employee has permission to escalate if the entire system or he or she is in danger.

 

Conclusion: In order to avoid exclusion, both parties to the conflict should go to the higher level together.

For example Job debut party: every company has written and unwritten laws. Every new employee should ask for and know them. If the new employee does not ask about the rules of the company, he or she may invite only certain employees or his or her team to the opening ceremony, although it is customary there to invite the entire department. This leads to the exclusion of employees who usually feel so badly hurt that they want to exclude the new employee immediately.

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Assignment

What about the issue of belonging? To what extent do you exclude your partner, your colleagues, your parents? And where do you feel you do not belong?
Make a list for yourself and write down all the points where you feel excluded or where you exclude someone. And start lifting the respective exclusion. It’s worth it!

 

Don’t talk about others!

So that the first system law is not violated, do not talk about others! Interrupt when others talk about others!

Gossip, grapevine and blasphemy are commonplace and normal for most people. Whether in the private or professional environment, it occurs everywhere.
Nevertheless, it has two major disadvantages and consequences.

1. Exclusion – the first systemic law is violated, resulting in suffering and anger.
If a person is spoken about in his/her absence, he/she is excluded. Often the statements about a third or fourth person come back to the excluded person – changed, of course, as in the game „Chinese whispers“.

Exercise 1: Do I say it the same way as if she were there?

Would you say the statement about the absent person exactly as if she were present? If not, then at least formulate it that way.

I.e. you follow the feedback rules and only describe the objective behaviour. There should be no interpretation, valuation or „that is …“ or „that is …“ statement at the identity level.

However, it is best not to talk about others at all. Whether positive or negative. Because there is another consequence.

2. The point of view is shaped
The point of view – metaphorically as pigeonhole thinking or which glasses I have on, described – changes in the person who hears something about the person who is not present.

Exercise 2: Before – Judgement

Do you remember a person you met and heard about before?
Even if you have tried to look at the person neutrally and without prejudice, your attitude has been colored.

What did the coloring look like? And was your „image“ confirmed or was the person different?

For this reason, you should respectfully interrupt others when the person is talking about others. Especially if it is judgmental and negative or contains „that is …“ statements.

This applies particularly to role models such as parents or managers. The more the parents or managers (and of course all others as well) demonstrate this behaviour, not to talk about others or to prevent them from doing so, the fewer violations occur at the system law level. This would be a great gain.

SYSTEM LAW 2: ACKNOWLEDEMENT, ESTEEM AND RESPECT

No system can function in the long term without recognition. Recognition also means respect, appreciation, appreciation, gratitude. Recognition is the engine that makes a system run and keeps it running. If there is no recognition, the engine starts stuttering and the system stagnates.

Recognition and appreciation are not tied to any conditions, no member has to do something actively to be recognized in a system, otherwise it comes to injuries.
Respect is recognition which is linked to a condition, i.e. the boss can only receive respect if he really fulfils his role and his responsibility as a boss. If he does not receive the respect because he has violated system laws or does not clearly lead, he often demands loyalty. But this is an unsuitable attempt. It is the same as demanding love. Love is given to me voluntarily by the other person. If I have to demand respect, love or loyalty, it has no value anymore.

Recognition is the second most important thing, because in case of conflict a quarrel still means a kind of respect. Because the conflict partners still see each other. If, however, resignation, silence or exclusion occurs, the system law 1 „Right to belong (no exclusion)“ applies again. The path to conflict resolution ends here.

Far too often recognition is not pronounced. There are some beliefs that stand in the way of the call to praise more. An often heard conviction is: „When I praise him, he rests on it and becomes lazy“.
But everyone knows how important an appreciative word is. On the other hand, when it comes to praise as well as criticism, one must of course pay attention to when, how often and, above all, by whom it is pronounced. You can find more about feedback talks in the previous newsletters.

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Exercise

What about the topic of recognition and praise? And to what extent do you recognise your partner, your colleagues, your children?
Make a list and write down all the points you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation. It’s worth it!

If you spontaneously think of five things worthy of recognition, double the number you should find to ten. Because the spontaneous points usually do not have the value. Only the buried points that appear are then the treasures in which recognition becomes clear.

In order to improve a relationship, it makes sense for each participant to draw up the list for himself and then have an exchange about it, i.e. each participant expresses his appreciation.

Recognition also includes writing down the points for which there is only medium or no recognition.

This list should also be drawn up by everyone, followed by an exchange. The points in the middle and right columns can be used as feedback and to improve the relationship. If, for example, the partner can recognise a learning task from the point „no recognition for leadership“, it is recognition for him that the other person has given him this „negative“ point as a learning task through feedback. Here the 4 steps have to be considered when giving feedback (1. appreciative attitude, 2. perception, 3. effect and 4. wish).

Recognition is always shown in the inner posture and behaviour and not only in what the person says.

From time to time I carry out the following task in mediations with the parties or teams. All topics such as behaviour, abilities, tasks, competences, responsibilities are collected. Each person then fills out a list and assesses himself or herself and the other person(s) in terms of recognition and appreciation. This is now followed by an exchange. Thus there is a perception of oneself and others and at the same time recognition is expressed. 

It is then exciting to see where there are similarities and differences and where behaviour patterns can be improved. But it is crucial in this task that recognition is expressed. Where recognition only exists in mediocrity or not at all, it also comes to the table, because unconsciously it works anyway.

Recognition also means respecting order, i.e. the primacy in system laws.

An example: An employee says to his boss that he recognizes him. But he says to himself that he could also do his boss’s job himself. Because he can’t find any points for what his boss does well or for what he can recognize him. Then both should not be surprised that it comes to a deterioration of the relationship, because there is no true and genuine recognition for the boss. The boss feels this of course.

Another point, how recognition shows up or not, is how much time the boss takes for the employee.

SYSTEM LAW 3: BALANCE OF GIVE AND TAKE

The feelings of belonging and recognition are the two most important basic needs in the system laws. In third place is the feeling of balance and „justice“. If all three basic needs are met, a system such as a family or business is motivated, the relationships work and a successful and livable environment is in place.

If, however, one of these three basic needs is not met, there is a violation of the systemic law.

The sense of balance, equilibrium or justice cannot be measured quantitatively. It is a subjective feeling of the respective person. It may be that a person has the feeling of giving more than they get.

It is important to know that a system, such as a couple or a company, always strives for a balance. If a worker has the feeling that he does not get enough recognition or compensation for his efforts, he feels treated unfairly and perhaps takes along tools to create a compensation for himself. If someone in a team feels disadvantaged by a lack of compensation, he is demotivated.

If the question of compensation arises, it usually cannot be resolved objectively at this level. Normally there is a system violation such as exclusion or lack of recognition. This has to be uncovered and resolved first.

In a mediation, I first let the two partners tell each other how their feelings of balance or equilibrium are. Both had the feeling that they were giving more than they were taking. It was interesting that their feelings depended on the contexts and situations. One person did more in the organization/administration and the other took more care of the customers.

Recognition and appreciation are a powerful balancing act. An appreciative word often makes the balance swing more into balance. The following task is helpful. Each person draws up a hidden list of contexts in which they feel they are giving more than they are getting.

Both lists are then compared and explained.

  • Where are there similarities and differences?
  • What can be deduced or learned or changed?

    Behind the system law 3: „Right to balance between give and take“ is always the question: „Who or what is more important than me?

If the other person gets the better customer or has more time for another person, feelings can be hurt. 

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Exercise

What is your position on the issue of equilibrium? With whom or in which situations do you have the feeling that it is not balanced?

Make a list and write down all the points that come to mind. And start to express and resolve the imbalance. It’s worth it!

Without recognition and belonging, there will be no balance and no equilibrium.

The right to balance or justice ranks third in the order of system laws. Injured feelings due to lack of recognition or injustice cannot be resolved by compensation alone, such as salary increases or material gifts.

In the event of systemic violations, these must be resolved first so that recognition and affiliation can arise. If not, there will always be a violation of system law 3. 

„System laws 4 – 6: Order in the system laws.“

SYSTEM LAW 4: EARLIER BEFORE LATER HAS PRIORITY 

is the system law that is most often violated in the company and leads to mobbing, burn out and demotivation. That’s why I’ll go into this in more detail.

„Sooner before later has priority“ we know from our everyday life:
They stand in line at the baker’s, and someone pushes themselves forward. There is an immediate reaction in the abdominal area. It could be that the pusher gets the last rolls and you go out empty. The fear behind this from evolution is to have to starve.

This law also means that employees who later join a company „sit in the nest“ and benefit from the services provided by former employees. For this, the former employees need recognition and possibly compensation. Otherwise they will be injured and want to exclude the new employee, which I have often experienced as a reason for bullying in my coaching work.

 

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Exercise

What about your recognition for the former or the former? And in which situations or by which persons do you feel your priority of the former over the latter violated?
Make a list and write down all the points that come to mind about the two questions. And start dissolving your points by „saying what is“ and by recognition. It’s worth it!

If a violation occurs earlier before later, the first three system laws are automatically also violated.

SYSTEM LAW 5: HIGHER RESPONSIBILITY / BIGGER EFFORT HAS PRIORITY 

Even in teams with flat hierarchies, there are people who feel more responsible and show more commitment to the whole than others.
For example, there was a project team with six members. They had agreed that they wanted to work grassroots democratically at their meetings and that everyone should have equal rights. In the coaching session, one of these project members came to me and reported on his dilemma: „The project is going up against the wall. We absolutely have to meet for a project meeting, but none is scheduled. I’d invite everyone to a meeting right away, but if I do, I’ll be the team leader and not on the same level as the others. What should I do?“ He feared exclusion from the team.

Sooner or later, each system will require a leader who will take responsibility or show more commitment to the system than the others. Otherwise the system will not be able to act. Employees or team members as well as pupils or children want a strong, balanced, just and human leadership so that they know where the limits are.

However, a boss must be a boss. If he doesn’t accept the role by delegating away not only tasks but also boss decisions or by not bearing his responsibility, he loses his position and his respect with the others. I.e. the boss must be balanced and powerful. We also say that he needs the sword side and the heart side.
On the other hand, all other employees must recognize the boss as their boss when he lives his leadership role, even if they do not always agree with him or even have more knowledge and competence in their field.

Now there is an order or a precedence or a direction of recognition between the system law „earlier before later has precedence“ and the system law „higher responsibility has precedence“, which is explained in the following.

The order means, „sooner before later“ has priority over „higher responsibility“ – this shows up in the direction of recognition: „higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“ must recognize „sooner before later has priority“!

If a new managing director joins a company, he may first want to „clean up“. In his opinion, everything old is inadequate, he initiates a series of sensible measures and is surprised that they do not have a lasting effect. The employees become listless. What has happened?
The new managing director had a positive intention, but has disregarded the direction of recognition of law 5: „Higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“ to law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“. In this order he stands – although boss (see law 5: „higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“) – on the last place, because he has been newly added. Only when he acknowledges that many employees have been working there for years and then asks about their experiences and habits can he take the lead as a boss from last place and get loyal employees.

Otherwise, this is what happens: The employees form rope teams and withhold important information from the boss. The new boss feels bullied by the employees and demands loyalty.
The aim of the employees is to exclude the new boss. The new boss then often dismisses the direct management level among himself and fills it with new managers who are loyal to him. In this way he establishes order 4 and 5 for himself. Unfortunately, the new managers will then have problems with the employees, because the problem of the lack of recognition has only shifted one level lower and the negative effects increase.

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Exercise

What about your recognition of the higher responsibility? To what extent do you recognise your partner, your parents or your superiors? And do you feel sufficiently valued in your role as the person responsible?
Make a list and write down all the points that you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation.
Where you do not feel sufficiently recognized, express it. It’s worth it!

SYSTEM LAW 6: HIGHER COMPETENCE / HIGHER KNOWLEDGE HAS PRIORITY 

Colleagues who have more knowledge or competence have priority over those who have less. Less competent employees must recognise the more competent colleagues.

Direction of recognition of law 6: „Higher competence takes precedence“ to law 5: „Higher responsibility takes precedence“ or law 5 takes precedence over law 6:

In the same way, a more competent employee recognizes his boss, even if he has less competence or knowledge in the field. The boss has different tasks and needs different knowledge and skills. Otherwise the boss does not feel recognized and cannot recognize the higher professional competence of the employee. Then it comes perhaps even to Mobbing.

An example: A subordinate employee said that he should actually be the boss. The boss then gave him a project in which he could contribute all his expertise. One week before the end of the project, the boss cancelled the project. The employee felt bullied. The reason lay with himself, as he had not acknowledged his boss. The boss unconsciously tried to restore the hierarchy by this exclusion by showing the employee that he could decide about the use of the knowledge. But this is not a solution.

Solution: Together with the employee, I worked out what he can recognise his boss for and what competencies he believes the boss has. He said that his boss was very good at the political games „up there“ or that he always stood in front of his employees. Then I made it clear to him that competence does not only mean professional competence, but also leadership competence and social competence.

The employee could then tell his boss that he recognised him and was his employee, even though he had a higher level of professional competence than his boss. The boss then said that he also needed more competent employees than himself and that he had other skills for this. Then their cooperation was clarified and the boss could use the employee’s knowledge.

Recognition direction of law 6: „Higher competence / higher commitment has priority“ to law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ respectively law 4 has priority over law 6:

If new employees are hired, they must recognise all existing colleagues, even if they are less capable. This means that a new employee will initially be reluctant to put forward his or her own ideas or experiences from his or her previous job.

Example: In a company, tensions arose between two employees. One had been with the company for ten years and the other for half a year. It turned out that the new employee had criticized the database of the company where the long-time employee was responsible right on the first day.

The long-time employee said: „Objectively, he’s absolutely right, I agree, we’re in, we’re not getting any better at it. But not such a statement on the very first day!

Here you can see how important the third level of the system laws is below the factual and relationship level, because objectively there was an agreement, yet the former employee felt hurt. The new employee had the positive intention to bring his knowledge into the company. Unfortunately, he had not observed the feedback rules and system laws. The new employee could then say that it was not his intention to hurt the former employee and that he was sorry. Then you could work well together.

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Exercise

What about your recognition of higher competence or knowledge? Please note the fourth system law: „Sooner before later has priority“ and the fifth system law: „Higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“? And do you feel that your competence is sufficiently valued?

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation.

Where you do not feel sufficiently recognized, express it. It’s worth it!

SYSTEM LAW 7: NEW SYSTEM BEFORE OLD ONE

If companies are merged or departments are newly merged, a new system is created. However, the previous systems or subsystems are retained.

In the family, for example, the original family is the son S with his parents the old system. The new system consists of him, his wife F and his children. The new system must be more important to the son, since it is about survival in the archaic sense. If the woman asks her husband S for a good reason, if your parents are important to you or if your mother is more important to you than I am, then this system law „New system takes precedence over old system“ is violated by the son.

Conclusion: For the son, his wife and children must be more important than his original family.

Conversely, the parents must also recognise the son with his wife and children. If all system laws were observed and there would be a famine, the grandparents would sacrifice themselves for the survival of the offspring (e.g. they would sit on an ice floe, like the Eskimos used to do). The new system should survive. But they will only do so if they feel recognized and respected and are not excluded by their son.

An example: If two departments are merged, system law 7 applies, i.e. the new system, and the new department has priority. Nevertheless, Law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ must be observed. Everyone starts anew together in the new department, but the overall affiliation of the individual and the respective department to the company must be taken into account and recognised.

Systems Act 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ is more important than Act 7: „New system has priority over old“.

Here you can see how complex the systems can become and how complex the application of the system laws can become for the resolution of injuries.

Another example are the patchwork families. A married couple has a child together. If these parents separate and, for example, the mother enters into a new relationship, the new partner must recognise the former parent couple, but also that the child forms an earlier system with the mother. He has to put himself in the back.

The child must feel that it is more important for the mother than the new husband. Only then can a new system with mother, child and new husband emerge that is based on mutual appreciation. If the child does not feel sufficiently valued by the mother or the new husband, or if it loses the position of the former, the child will try to exclude the new husband.

The examples clearly show that law 7: „New system takes priority over old system“ only works if all six previous system laws are observed! This means that only the former can say that the new system takes precedence and not those who entered the system later.

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Exercise

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you still have to clarify. It’s worth it!

What about the recognition of the new system before the old system? And are all six previous system laws observed?

SYSTEM LAW 8: COMPLETE SYSTEM BEFORE SUBSYSTEM 

Team sport shows that the overall system is more important for success than the individual team members. It’s the same in the companies. 

Example: Purchasing department subsystem:

In many companies, purchasing does not keep up with the punctual procurement of materials, for which there can be various reasons. The production or work preparation then goes directly past the purchasing department to other suppliers and thus often receives the required materials faster. In this way they assume responsibility for the company, which is meant as a positive intention. The negative effect is that almost all system laws are violated: Exclusion of purchasing, lack of recognition, earlier before later, higher responsibility and competence.

Solution: If the production manager had informed the purchasing manager that production was now directly procuring its materials from the other supplier, at least the exclusion and lack of recognition would not have occurred.

Example: Employee boss:

If the boss does not assume any responsibility, a management vacuum arises. Employees are then faced with the difficulty of having to make their own decisions, knowing that, on the one hand, it is not right, but on the other hand, it must continue if the boss does not do it.

Or if the new boss disregards all former employees, they try to exclude the new boss.

In both cases, the boss disrupts the overall system and the employees act accordingly.

In management coaching it is often a question of the manager becoming more self-confident and assuming more responsibility, becoming more consistent and learning to say „no“ (cf. Bischop 2010, Coachen und Führen mit System, Verlag Ludwig, Kiel) – only then can he assume his role as boss in the sense of the system laws, for example Law 5: „Higher responsibility has priority“.

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Exercise

What about the recognition of the entire system in front of an individual or a subsystem? And which previous system laws (1-7) were not observed so that this could happen?

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you still have to clarify. It’s worth it!

System Laws and Organization

In an organization, violations occur not only between individual employees or between the manager and the employee at the system law level, but also due to changes in the organization, system law violations often occur. Examples are mergers, restructurings, the introduction of new software or a company succession. For this reason, the system laws are now presented in connection with organizational development. Here, too, they are the foundation.

A systemic and integral change or organizational development is embedded in a triangle.  A corner stands for strategy/vision. The second corner stands for structure (e.g. lines, flat hierarchy, processes, organization chart) and the third corner for culture (communication, relationship, team spirit).

Vision / Strategy

What does the organization stand for?  Values, vision, mission statement, what is lived?

This means the orientation of the company, the long-term future and planning, for example whether a merger should be carried out or how the company should be positioned on the market.

Structure

Hierarchy, responsibility, roles, perspectives, workflows, processes, information flow

This refers to hierarchy levels and orders as well as process flows, such as outsourcing or project management.

Culture

Error culture, feedback, reliability, openness, motivation

Behind this are the internal and external communication, the interpersonal relationships, the team spirit and the entrepreneurial spirit.

 

System laws

If one considers the triangle as a mobile, one sees that this triangle is brought out of balance by violation of the system laws.

An example: A company introduces software for time recording. This involves changing the structure, i.e. the processes and the EDP. This introduction can lead to system law violations:

If the employees are not sufficiently involved, they feel ignored.
Has the old culture been taken into account? If the old structure ran without time recording and the culture meant free time management and trust, this new time recording can lead to fears. Employees feel supervised. They feel excluded from their old culture.
In concrete terms, the new time recording system can lead to bureaucracy and overtime. The employee therefore lacks time resources. Were these secured elsewhere?

If external consultants, e.g. software companies for the introduction of new software or classic management consultants for restructuring, do not take this triangle of vision, structure and culture, and above all the system laws, into account, violations occur.

In order to get the acceptance and also important information from the employees, it is helpful to ask three questions during change processes. In addition, these questions express belonging and recognition – the two most important system laws.

1. What is the good or what are the advantages of the current situation?

2. What negative effects / disadvantages / risks can occur in the event of a change?

3. What must be done so that these negative effects or disadvantages do not occur?

Only when all three corners of the triangle as well as the system laws are integrated into changes in organizations can a successful and sustainable solution / change be achieved.

SYSTEM LAWS AND SEATING ORDER

In my experience, if a system is in order, and the system laws are adhered to, and the official system is in accordance with the unofficial hierarchy or order, then all participants feel best when the following seating order is adopted:

Clockwise

The boss or the senior employee sits at 12 o’clock, the second boss or the second senior employee sits at one o’clock and so on. The employee who entered the system last sits in the last seat (six o’clock in the figure). A customer then occupies the free seats. Next to the boss, a seat must remain free on the right-hand side so that he or she feels comfortable.

 

 

Why people feel most comfortable with this seating arrangement is not known. But it shows itself again and again.

My explanation for it is that the boss needs place on the right like in former times, so that he can pull/move his sword if necessary with the right hand.

This seating arrangement also applies to families: the father sits at 12 o’clock, the mother at 1 o’clock, the oldest child at 2 o’clock and so on.

If the „normal“ seating arrangement is not observed, there can be various reasons for this.

External reasons: If this „normal“ seating order is not observed for external reasons, such as ignorance, spatial reasons or late arrival, the participants do not feel comfortable and conflicts may arise whose cause has nothing to do with the factual level.

Internal reasons: If there are system law violations within the system or if there is a shadow hierarchy, this is normally reflected in the seating order. Unconsciously, people sit down in such a way that the unofficial order is represented. Therefore the seating order can also be used as an indication and diagnosis for system law violations related to the order between the system laws 4: „Earlier before later has priority“, 5: „Higher responsibility has priority“ and 6: „Higher competence has priority“.

Try a seating arrangement that corresponds to the clock: How do you feel as a participant? How do the others feel?

Or use it in mediation, coaching or as a manager. How do the employees sit in a meeting? And let all employees take the „right“ place in a meeting or in the office.

The order after the clock to the right is also valid for tables in the office or for offices on one floor. Find the seats together so that everyone feels comfortable.

Or how do the family members and you sit around the table at home?

SYSTEM LAWS VIOLATED SOLELY BY ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES

There are organizational structures that lead to system law violations. They are introduced with the best intention and are expected to bring many benefits. However, there are organizational structures that lead to system law violations. They are introduced with the best intention and one hopes for many advantages. However, in most cases the disadvantages of system law violations outweigh the disadvantages. These structures include, for example, matrix structures, holdings (where not only the name but also functions are included) and also the separation of professional and disciplinary leadership.

Example project manager equal to employee

A head of department has an employee who simultaneously manages a project. The boss talks directly to the project manager past the head of department about topics that do not belong to the project, but to the department.

This excludes the head of department. The boss must also comply with the system laws. He must observe the hierarchical paths, and between the three there must be clarity as to which communication paths are valid for the three.

Such ambiguities often occur in matrix organizations, where employees assume several roles at the same time. It is therefore often difficult to adhere to the various hierarchies without exclusion.

Example Project Matrix – Resources

If the project manager needs resources from department manager 1 and does not get them, he will go to the manager.

Then the GF should clarify: „What is more important – „the project? or the company? No matter how the GF decides, there will be injuries. In my experience with matrix structures, the head of department will prevail sooner or later. In other words, the line structure is stronger.

Conclusion: In matrix organizations or projects, special attention must be paid to compliance with system laws and there must be no violations of system laws.

In a linear organisation where system laws are not respected, it is advisable to award as few projects as possible because they are potential causes of further system law violations.
If a project is introduced, the system law level must be clarified beforehand. Are there any violations? If so, they must be resolved beforehand. Only when there is trust between the parties involved and the system law level is right is the foundation for successful project management given.

From the point of view of the system law level, the pure line structure with clear distribution of competences is best suited. Matrix structures or the separation of technical and disciplinary leadership usually lead to systemic violations such as exclusion or lack of recognition.

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Conclusion

for the structure in an organization from the point of view of system laws:

– The structure should be as linear as possible (can also mean flat).
– As few projects as possible – it is better to divide the projects into lines than tasks.
– Project manager and subproject manager should be one with e.g. department manager and team leader.
– No separation of professional and disciplinary leadership – leadership includes responsibility and the necessary competencies.
– If there are conflicts in the organization, solve them and do not change the structure.
– Only change the structure if there are no major system violations.
– If the structure is changed, then the vision/strategy and the culture must be considered. Do all three fit together?

SYSTEM LAW 1: BELONGING

The most important system law is „belonging to one’s own system“, because that means survival. This is still the case today in the animal kingdom, and we bring along this heritage, which is stored in our behavioral programs.

All people who belong and have belonged to a system must be allowed to belong to it. Belonging does not expire. The founding father is just as much a part of it today as the young managing director. The same applies to retired employees. It strengthens the system if you remember them and wish them well, because they are still the roots of the system today.

Especially in school time, everyone was excluded once, be it that he was not invited for his birthday or that he was not allowed to play. If you remember, the unpleasant hurt feelings come up again.

A typical example of exclusion in the world of work is when an employee has a conflict with a colleague and goes to the supervisor without informing the colleague beforehand. The colleague feels passed over and a loss of trust or even mistrust occurs.

Example of escalation management: Escalation management is a process in which the responsibility for a decision is delegated in a controlled manner to the hierarchically higher level (superior) if no agreement is possible in a conflict situation at the lower decision levels. It presupposes that the parties to the conflict are each informed that escalation is taking place.

If two employees have a conflict and one of them goes to the boss for a solution, he must inform the other employee in advance that he contacts the superior in order to comply with the first system law „Right to belong (no exclusion)“.

 

And the boss should first of all ask the employee whether his colleague knows that he is presenting the topic to the boss. If there is an exclusion, the boss should not deal with the topic, but first the exclusion should be lifted. However, if the boss listens to the topic, he also excludes the employee.

In summary, the optimal procedure is to avoid exclusion:
1) One employee informs the other that he or she is visiting the boss on the subject.
2) The boss asks whether the other employee is informed.
3) The boss asks one employee and then the other, or he talks to both.

The same procedure must be followed when it comes to escalation across hierarchical levels.

If there is an unsolvable conflict between the employee and the head of department, the employee must inform the head of department in advance that the employee is visiting the managing director on the subject. And the managing director should also ask whether the head of department knows about it. From a systemic point of view, the employee has permission to escalate if the entire system or he or she is in danger.

Conclusion: In order to avoid exclusion, both parties to the conflict should go to the higher level together.

For example Job debut party: every company has written and unwritten laws. Every new employee should ask for and know them. If the new employee does not ask about the rules of the company, he or she may invite only certain employees or his or her team to the opening ceremony, although it is customary there to invite the entire department. This leads to the exclusion of employees who usually feel so badly hurt that they want to exclude the new employee immediately.

Example of escalation management: Escalation management is a process in which the responsibility for a decision is delegated in a controlled manner to the hierarchically higher level (superior) if no agreement is possible in a conflict situation at the lower decision levels. It presupposes that the parties to the conflict are each informed that escalation is taking place.

If two employees have a conflict and one of them goes to the boss for a solution, he must inform the other employee in advance that he contacts the superior in order to comply with the first system law „Right to belong (no exclusion)“.

And the boss should first of all ask the employee whether his colleague knows that he is presenting the topic to the boss. If there is an exclusion, the boss should not deal with the topic, but first the exclusion should be lifted. However, if the boss listens to the topic, he also excludes the employee.

In summary, the optimal procedure is to avoid exclusion:
1) One employee informs the other that he or she is visiting the boss on the subject.
2) The boss asks whether the other employee is informed.
3) The boss asks one employee and then the other, or he talks to both.

The same procedure must be followed when it comes to escalation across hierarchical levels.

If there is an unsolvable conflict between the employee and the head of department, the employee must inform the head of department in advance that the employee is visiting the managing director on the subject. And the managing director should also ask whether the head of department knows about it. From a systemic point of view, the employee has permission to escalate if the entire system or he or she is in danger.

 

Conclusion: In order to avoid exclusion, both parties to the conflict should go to the higher level together.

For example Job debut party: every company has written and unwritten laws. Every new employee should ask for and know them. If the new employee does not ask about the rules of the company, he or she may invite only certain employees or his or her team to the opening ceremony, although it is customary there to invite the entire department. This leads to the exclusion of employees who usually feel so badly hurt that they want to exclude the new employee immediately.

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Assignment

What about the issue of belonging? To what extent do you exclude your partner, your colleagues, your parents? And where do you feel you do not belong?
Make a list for yourself and write down all the points where you feel excluded or where you exclude someone. And start lifting the respective exclusion. It’s worth it!

 

Don’t talk about others!

So that the first system law is not violated, do not talk about others! Interrupt when others talk about others!

Gossip, grapevine and blasphemy are commonplace and normal for most people. Whether in the private or professional environment, it occurs everywhere.
Nevertheless, it has two major disadvantages and consequences.

1. Exclusion – the first systemic law is violated, resulting in suffering and anger.
If a person is spoken about in his/her absence, he/she is excluded. Often the statements about a third or fourth person come back to the excluded person – changed, of course, as in the game „Chinese whispers“.

Exercise 1: Do I say it the same way as if she were there?

Would you say the statement about the absent person exactly as if she were present? If not, then at least formulate it that way.

I.e. you follow the feedback rules and only describe the objective behaviour. There should be no interpretation, valuation or „that is …“ or „that is …“ statement at the identity level.

However, it is best not to talk about others at all. Whether positive or negative. Because there is another consequence.

2. The point of view is shaped
The point of view – metaphorically as pigeonhole thinking or which glasses I have on, described – changes in the person who hears something about the person who is not present.

Exercise 2: Before – Judgement

Do you remember a person you met and heard about before?
Even if you have tried to look at the person neutrally and without prejudice, your attitude has been colored.

What did the coloring look like? And was your „image“ confirmed or was the person different?

For this reason, you should respectfully interrupt others when the person is talking about others. Especially if it is judgmental and negative or contains „that is …“ statements.

This applies particularly to role models such as parents or managers. The more the parents or managers (and of course all others as well) demonstrate this behaviour, not to talk about others or to prevent them from doing so, the fewer violations occur at the system law level. This would be a great gain.

SYSTEM LAW 2: ACKNOWLEDEMENT, ESTEEM AND RESPECT

No system can function in the long term without recognition. Recognition also means respect, appreciation, appreciation, gratitude. Recognition is the engine that makes a system run and keeps it running. If there is no recognition, the engine starts stuttering and the system stagnates.

Recognition and appreciation are not tied to any conditions, no member has to do something actively to be recognized in a system, otherwise it comes to injuries.
Respect is recognition which is linked to a condition, i.e. the boss can only receive respect if he really fulfils his role and his responsibility as a boss. If he does not receive the respect because he has violated system laws or does not clearly lead, he often demands loyalty. But this is an unsuitable attempt. It is the same as demanding love. Love is given to me voluntarily by the other person. If I have to demand respect, love or loyalty, it has no value anymore.

Recognition is the second most important thing, because in case of conflict a quarrel still means a kind of respect. Because the conflict partners still see each other. If, however, resignation, silence or exclusion occurs, the system law 1 „Right to belong (no exclusion)“ applies again. The path to conflict resolution ends here.

Far too often recognition is not pronounced. There are some beliefs that stand in the way of the call to praise more. An often heard conviction is: „When I praise him, he rests on it and becomes lazy“.
But everyone knows how important an appreciative word is. On the other hand, when it comes to praise as well as criticism, one must of course pay attention to when, how often and, above all, by whom it is pronounced. You can find more about feedback talks in the previous newsletters.

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Exercise

What about the topic of recognition and praise? And to what extent do you recognise your partner, your colleagues, your children?
Make a list and write down all the points you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation. It’s worth it!

If you spontaneously think of five things worthy of recognition, double the number you should find to ten. Because the spontaneous points usually do not have the value. Only the buried points that appear are then the treasures in which recognition becomes clear.

In order to improve a relationship, it makes sense for each participant to draw up the list for himself and then have an exchange about it, i.e. each participant expresses his appreciation.

Recognition also includes writing down the points for which there is only medium or no recognition.

This list should also be drawn up by everyone, followed by an exchange. The points in the middle and right columns can be used as feedback and to improve the relationship. If, for example, the partner can recognise a learning task from the point „no recognition for leadership“, it is recognition for him that the other person has given him this „negative“ point as a learning task through feedback. Here the 4 steps have to be considered when giving feedback (1. appreciative attitude, 2. perception, 3. effect and 4. wish).

Recognition is always shown in the inner posture and behaviour and not only in what the person says.

From time to time I carry out the following task in mediations with the parties or teams. All topics such as behaviour, abilities, tasks, competences, responsibilities are collected. Each person then fills out a list and assesses himself or herself and the other person(s) in terms of recognition and appreciation. This is now followed by an exchange. Thus there is a perception of oneself and others and at the same time recognition is expressed. 

It is then exciting to see where there are similarities and differences and where behaviour patterns can be improved. But it is crucial in this task that recognition is expressed. Where recognition only exists in mediocrity or not at all, it also comes to the table, because unconsciously it works anyway.

Recognition also means respecting order, i.e. the primacy in system laws.

An example: An employee says to his boss that he recognizes him. But he says to himself that he could also do his boss’s job himself. Because he can’t find any points for what his boss does well or for what he can recognize him. Then both should not be surprised that it comes to a deterioration of the relationship, because there is no true and genuine recognition for the boss. The boss feels this of course.

Another point, how recognition shows up or not, is how much time the boss takes for the employee.

SYSTEM LAW 3: BALANCE OF GIVE AND TAKE

The feelings of belonging and recognition are the two most important basic needs in the system laws. In third place is the feeling of balance and „justice“. If all three basic needs are met, a system such as a family or business is motivated, the relationships work and a successful and livable environment is in place.

If, however, one of these three basic needs is not met, there is a violation of the systemic law.

The sense of balance, equilibrium or justice cannot be measured quantitatively. It is a subjective feeling of the respective person. It may be that a person has the feeling of giving more than they get.

It is important to know that a system, such as a couple or a company, always strives for a balance. If a worker has the feeling that he does not get enough recognition or compensation for his efforts, he feels treated unfairly and perhaps takes along tools to create a compensation for himself. If someone in a team feels disadvantaged by a lack of compensation, he is demotivated.

If the question of compensation arises, it usually cannot be resolved objectively at this level. Normally there is a system violation such as exclusion or lack of recognition. This has to be uncovered and resolved first.

In a mediation, I first let the two partners tell each other how their feelings of balance or equilibrium are. Both had the feeling that they were giving more than they were taking. It was interesting that their feelings depended on the contexts and situations. One person did more in the organization/administration and the other took more care of the customers.

Recognition and appreciation are a powerful balancing act. An appreciative word often makes the balance swing more into balance. The following task is helpful. Each person draws up a hidden list of contexts in which they feel they are giving more than they are getting.

Both lists are then compared and explained.

  • Where are there similarities and differences?
  • What can be deduced or learned or changed?

    Behind the system law 3: „Right to balance between give and take“ is always the question: „Who or what is more important than me?

If the other person gets the better customer or has more time for another person, feelings can be hurt. 

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Exercise

What is your position on the issue of equilibrium? With whom or in which situations do you have the feeling that it is not balanced?

Make a list and write down all the points that come to mind. And start to express and resolve the imbalance. It’s worth it!

Without recognition and belonging, there will be no balance and no equilibrium.

The right to balance or justice ranks third in the order of system laws. Injured feelings due to lack of recognition or injustice cannot be resolved by compensation alone, such as salary increases or material gifts.

In the event of systemic violations, these must be resolved first so that recognition and affiliation can arise. If not, there will always be a violation of system law 3. 

„System laws 4 – 6: Order in the system laws.“

SYSTEM LAW 4: EARLIER BEFORE LATER HAS PRIORITY 

is the system law that is most often violated in the company and leads to mobbing, burn out and demotivation. That’s why I’ll go into this in more detail.

„Sooner before later has priority“ we know from our everyday life:
They stand in line at the baker’s, and someone pushes themselves forward. There is an immediate reaction in the abdominal area. It could be that the pusher gets the last rolls and you go out empty. The fear behind this from evolution is to have to starve.

This law also means that employees who later join a company „sit in the nest“ and benefit from the services provided by former employees. For this, the former employees need recognition and possibly compensation. Otherwise they will be injured and want to exclude the new employee, which I have often experienced as a reason for bullying in my coaching work.

 

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Exercise

What about your recognition for the former or the former? And in which situations or by which persons do you feel your priority of the former over the latter violated?
Make a list and write down all the points that come to mind about the two questions. And start dissolving your points by „saying what is“ and by recognition. It’s worth it!

If a violation occurs earlier before later, the first three system laws are automatically also violated.

SYSTEM LAW 5: HIGHER RESPONSIBILITY / BIGGER EFFORT HAS PRIORITY 

Even in teams with flat hierarchies, there are people who feel more responsible and show more commitment to the whole than others.
For example, there was a project team with six members. They had agreed that they wanted to work grassroots democratically at their meetings and that everyone should have equal rights. In the coaching session, one of these project members came to me and reported on his dilemma: „The project is going up against the wall. We absolutely have to meet for a project meeting, but none is scheduled. I’d invite everyone to a meeting right away, but if I do, I’ll be the team leader and not on the same level as the others. What should I do?“ He feared exclusion from the team.

Sooner or later, each system will require a leader who will take responsibility or show more commitment to the system than the others. Otherwise the system will not be able to act. Employees or team members as well as pupils or children want a strong, balanced, just and human leadership so that they know where the limits are.

However, a boss must be a boss. If he doesn’t accept the role by delegating away not only tasks but also boss decisions or by not bearing his responsibility, he loses his position and his respect with the others. I.e. the boss must be balanced and powerful. We also say that he needs the sword side and the heart side.
On the other hand, all other employees must recognize the boss as their boss when he lives his leadership role, even if they do not always agree with him or even have more knowledge and competence in their field.

Now there is an order or a precedence or a direction of recognition between the system law „earlier before later has precedence“ and the system law „higher responsibility has precedence“, which is explained in the following.

The order means, „sooner before later“ has priority over „higher responsibility“ – this shows up in the direction of recognition: „higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“ must recognize „sooner before later has priority“!

If a new managing director joins a company, he may first want to „clean up“. In his opinion, everything old is inadequate, he initiates a series of sensible measures and is surprised that they do not have a lasting effect. The employees become listless. What has happened?
The new managing director had a positive intention, but has disregarded the direction of recognition of law 5: „Higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“ to law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“. In this order he stands – although boss (see law 5: „higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“) – on the last place, because he has been newly added. Only when he acknowledges that many employees have been working there for years and then asks about their experiences and habits can he take the lead as a boss from last place and get loyal employees.

Otherwise, this is what happens: The employees form rope teams and withhold important information from the boss. The new boss feels bullied by the employees and demands loyalty.
The aim of the employees is to exclude the new boss. The new boss then often dismisses the direct management level among himself and fills it with new managers who are loyal to him. In this way he establishes order 4 and 5 for himself. Unfortunately, the new managers will then have problems with the employees, because the problem of the lack of recognition has only shifted one level lower and the negative effects increase.

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Exercise

What about your recognition of the higher responsibility? To what extent do you recognise your partner, your parents or your superiors? And do you feel sufficiently valued in your role as the person responsible?
Make a list and write down all the points that you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation.
Where you do not feel sufficiently recognized, express it. It’s worth it!

SYSTEM LAW 6: HIGHER COMPETENCE / HIGHER KNOWLEDGE HAS PRIORITY 

Colleagues who have more knowledge or competence have priority over those who have less. Less competent employees must recognise the more competent colleagues.

Direction of recognition of law 6: „Higher competence takes precedence“ to law 5: „Higher responsibility takes precedence“ or law 5 takes precedence over law 6:

In the same way, a more competent employee recognizes his boss, even if he has less competence or knowledge in the field. The boss has different tasks and needs different knowledge and skills. Otherwise the boss does not feel recognized and cannot recognize the higher professional competence of the employee. Then it comes perhaps even to Mobbing.

An example: A subordinate employee said that he should actually be the boss. The boss then gave him a project in which he could contribute all his expertise. One week before the end of the project, the boss cancelled the project. The employee felt bullied. The reason lay with himself, as he had not acknowledged his boss. The boss unconsciously tried to restore the hierarchy by this exclusion by showing the employee that he could decide about the use of the knowledge. But this is not a solution.

Solution: Together with the employee, I worked out what he can recognise his boss for and what competencies he believes the boss has. He said that his boss was very good at the political games „up there“ or that he always stood in front of his employees. Then I made it clear to him that competence does not only mean professional competence, but also leadership competence and social competence.

The employee could then tell his boss that he recognised him and was his employee, even though he had a higher level of professional competence than his boss. The boss then said that he also needed more competent employees than himself and that he had other skills for this. Then their cooperation was clarified and the boss could use the employee’s knowledge.

Recognition direction of law 6: „Higher competence / higher commitment has priority“ to law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ respectively law 4 has priority over law 6:

If new employees are hired, they must recognise all existing colleagues, even if they are less capable. This means that a new employee will initially be reluctant to put forward his or her own ideas or experiences from his or her previous job.

Example: In a company, tensions arose between two employees. One had been with the company for ten years and the other for half a year. It turned out that the new employee had criticized the database of the company where the long-time employee was responsible right on the first day.

The long-time employee said: „Objectively, he’s absolutely right, I agree, we’re in, we’re not getting any better at it. But not such a statement on the very first day!

Here you can see how important the third level of the system laws is below the factual and relationship level, because objectively there was an agreement, yet the former employee felt hurt. The new employee had the positive intention to bring his knowledge into the company. Unfortunately, he had not observed the feedback rules and system laws. The new employee could then say that it was not his intention to hurt the former employee and that he was sorry. Then you could work well together.

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Exercise

What about your recognition of higher competence or knowledge? Please note the fourth system law: „Sooner before later has priority“ and the fifth system law: „Higher responsibility / higher commitment has priority“? And do you feel that your competence is sufficiently valued?

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you value and acknowledge. And start expressing your appreciation.

Where you do not feel sufficiently recognized, express it. It’s worth it!

SYSTEM LAW 7: NEW SYSTEM BEFORE OLD ONE

If companies are merged or departments are newly merged, a new system is created. However, the previous systems or subsystems are retained.

In the family, for example, the original family is the son S with his parents the old system. The new system consists of him, his wife F and his children. The new system must be more important to the son, since it is about survival in the archaic sense. If the woman asks her husband S for a good reason, if your parents are important to you or if your mother is more important to you than I am, then this system law „New system takes precedence over old system“ is violated by the son.

Conclusion: For the son, his wife and children must be more important than his original family.

Conversely, the parents must also recognise the son with his wife and children. If all system laws were observed and there would be a famine, the grandparents would sacrifice themselves for the survival of the offspring (e.g. they would sit on an ice floe, like the Eskimos used to do). The new system should survive. But they will only do so if they feel recognized and respected and are not excluded by their son.

An example: If two departments are merged, system law 7 applies, i.e. the new system, and the new department has priority. Nevertheless, Law 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ must be observed. Everyone starts anew together in the new department, but the overall affiliation of the individual and the respective department to the company must be taken into account and recognised.

Systems Act 4: „Earlier before later has priority“ is more important than Act 7: „New system has priority over old“.

Here you can see how complex the systems can become and how complex the application of the system laws can become for the resolution of injuries.

Another example are the patchwork families. A married couple has a child together. If these parents separate and, for example, the mother enters into a new relationship, the new partner must recognise the former parent couple, but also that the child forms an earlier system with the mother. He has to put himself in the back.

The child must feel that it is more important for the mother than the new husband. Only then can a new system with mother, child and new husband emerge that is based on mutual appreciation. If the child does not feel sufficiently valued by the mother or the new husband, or if it loses the position of the former, the child will try to exclude the new husband.

The examples clearly show that law 7: „New system takes priority over old system“ only works if all six previous system laws are observed! This means that only the former can say that the new system takes precedence and not those who entered the system later.

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Exercise

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you still have to clarify. It’s worth it!

What about the recognition of the new system before the old system? And are all six previous system laws observed?

SYSTEM LAW 8: COMPLETE SYSTEM BEFORE SUBSYSTEM 

Team sport shows that the overall system is more important for success than the individual team members. It’s the same in the companies. 

Example: Purchasing department subsystem:

In many companies, purchasing does not keep up with the punctual procurement of materials, for which there can be various reasons. The production or work preparation then goes directly past the purchasing department to other suppliers and thus often receives the required materials faster. In this way they assume responsibility for the company, which is meant as a positive intention. The negative effect is that almost all system laws are violated: Exclusion of purchasing, lack of recognition, earlier before later, higher responsibility and competence.

Solution: If the production manager had informed the purchasing manager that production was now directly procuring its materials from the other supplier, at least the exclusion and lack of recognition would not have occurred.

Example: Employee boss:

If the boss does not assume any responsibility, a management vacuum arises. Employees are then faced with the difficulty of having to make their own decisions, knowing that, on the one hand, it is not right, but on the other hand, it must continue if the boss does not do it.

Or if the new boss disregards all former employees, they try to exclude the new boss.

In both cases, the boss disrupts the overall system and the employees act accordingly.

In management coaching it is often a question of the manager becoming more self-confident and assuming more responsibility, becoming more consistent and learning to say „no“ (cf. Bischop 2010, Coachen und Führen mit System, Verlag Ludwig, Kiel) – only then can he assume his role as boss in the sense of the system laws, for example Law 5: „Higher responsibility has priority“.

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Exercise

What about the recognition of the entire system in front of an individual or a subsystem? And which previous system laws (1-7) were not observed so that this could happen?

Make yourself a list and write down all the points you still have to clarify. It’s worth it!

System Laws and Organization

In an organization, violations occur not only between individual employees or between the manager and the employee at the system law level, but also due to changes in the organization, system law violations often occur. Examples are mergers, restructurings, the introduction of new software or a company succession. For this reason, the system laws are now presented in connection with organizational development. Here, too, they are the foundation.

A systemic and integral change or organizational development is embedded in a triangle.  A corner stands for strategy/vision. The second corner stands for structure (e.g. lines, flat hierarchy, processes, organization chart) and the third corner for culture (communication, relationship, team spirit).

Vision / Strategy

What does the organization stand for?  Values, vision, mission statement, what is lived?

This means the orientation of the company, the long-term future and planning, for example whether a merger should be carried out or how the company should be positioned on the market.

Structure

Hierarchy, responsibility, roles, perspectives, workflows, processes, information flow

This refers to hierarchy levels and orders as well as process flows, such as outsourcing or project management.

Culture

Error culture, feedback, reliability, openness, motivation

Behind this are the internal and external communication, the interpersonal relationships, the team spirit and the entrepreneurial spirit.

 

System laws

If one considers the triangle as a mobile, one sees that this triangle is brought out of balance by violation of the system laws.

An example: A company introduces software for time recording. This involves changing the structure, i.e. the processes and the EDP. This introduction can lead to system law violations:

If the employees are not sufficiently involved, they feel ignored.
Has the old culture been taken into account? If the old structure ran without time recording and the culture meant free time management and trust, this new time recording can lead to fears. Employees feel supervised. They feel excluded from their old culture.
In concrete terms, the new time recording system can lead to bureaucracy and overtime. The employee therefore lacks time resources. Were these secured elsewhere?

If external consultants, e.g. software companies for the introduction of new software or classic management consultants for restructuring, do not take this triangle of vision, structure and culture, and above all the system laws, into account, violations occur.

In order to get the acceptance and also important information from the employees, it is helpful to ask three questions during change processes. In addition, these questions express belonging and recognition – the two most important system laws.

1. What is the good or what are the advantages of the current situation?

2. What negative effects / disadvantages / risks can occur in the event of a change?

3. What must be done so that these negative effects or disadvantages do not occur?

Only when all three corners of the triangle as well as the system laws are integrated into changes in organizations can a successful and sustainable solution / change be achieved.

SYSTEM LAWS AND SEATING ORDER

In my experience, if a system is in order, and the system laws are adhered to, and the official system is in accordance with the unofficial hierarchy or order, then all participants feel best when the following seating order is adopted:

Clockwise

The boss or the senior employee sits at 12 o’clock, the second boss or the second senior employee sits at one o’clock and so on. The employee who entered the system last sits in the last seat (six o’clock in the figure). A customer then occupies the free seats. Next to the boss, a seat must remain free on the right-hand side so that he or she feels comfortable.

 

 

Why people feel most comfortable with this seating arrangement is not known. But it shows itself again and again.

My explanation for it is that the boss needs place on the right like in former times, so that he can pull/move his sword if necessary with the right hand.

This seating arrangement also applies to families: the father sits at 12 o’clock, the mother at 1 o’clock, the oldest child at 2 o’clock and so on.

If the „normal“ seating arrangement is not observed, there can be various reasons for this.

External reasons: If this „normal“ seating order is not observed for external reasons, such as ignorance, spatial reasons or late arrival, the participants do not feel comfortable and conflicts may arise whose cause has nothing to do with the factual level.

Internal reasons: If there are system law violations within the system or if there is a shadow hierarchy, this is normally reflected in the seating order. Unconsciously, people sit down in such a way that the unofficial order is represented. Therefore the seating order can also be used as an indication and diagnosis for system law violations related to the order between the system laws 4: „Earlier before later has priority“, 5: „Higher responsibility has priority“ and 6: „Higher competence has priority“.

Try a seating arrangement that corresponds to the clock: How do you feel as a participant? How do the others feel?

Or use it in mediation, coaching or as a manager. How do the employees sit in a meeting? And let all employees take the „right“ place in a meeting or in the office.

The order after the clock to the right is also valid for tables in the office or for offices on one floor. Find the seats together so that everyone feels comfortable.

Or how do the family members and you sit around the table at home?

SYSTEM LAWS VIOLATED SOLELY BY ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES

There are organizational structures that lead to system law violations. They are introduced with the best intention and are expected to bring many benefits. However, there are organizational structures that lead to system law violations. They are introduced with the best intention and one hopes for many advantages. However, in most cases the disadvantages of system law violations outweigh the disadvantages. These structures include, for example, matrix structures, holdings (where not only the name but also functions are included) and also the separation of professional and disciplinary leadership.

Example project manager equal to employee

A head of department has an employee who simultaneously manages a project. The boss talks directly to the project manager past the head of department about topics that do not belong to the project, but to the department.

This excludes the head of department. The boss must also comply with the system laws. He must observe the hierarchical paths, and between the three there must be clarity as to which communication paths are valid for the three.

Such ambiguities often occur in matrix organizations, where employees assume several roles at the same time. It is therefore often difficult to adhere to the various hierarchies without exclusion.

Example Project Matrix – Resources

If the project manager needs resources from department manager 1 and does not get them, he will go to the manager.

Then the GF should clarify: „What is more important – „the project? or the company? No matter how the GF decides, there will be injuries. In my experience with matrix structures, the head of department will prevail sooner or later. In other words, the line structure is stronger.

Conclusion: In matrix organizations or projects, special attention must be paid to compliance with system laws and there must be no violations of system laws.

In a linear organisation where system laws are not respected, it is advisable to award as few projects as possible because they are potential causes of further system law violations.
If a project is introduced, the system law level must be clarified beforehand. Are there any violations? If so, they must be resolved beforehand. Only when there is trust between the parties involved and the system law level is right is the foundation for successful project management given.

From the point of view of the system law level, the pure line structure with clear distribution of competences is best suited. Matrix structures or the separation of technical and disciplinary leadership usually lead to systemic violations such as exclusion or lack of recognition.

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Conclusion

for the structure in an organization from the point of view of system laws:

– The structure should be as linear as possible (can also mean flat).
– As few projects as possible – it is better to divide the projects into lines than tasks.
– Project manager and subproject manager should be one with e.g. department manager and team leader.
– No separation of professional and disciplinary leadership – leadership includes responsibility and the necessary competencies.
– If there are conflicts in the organization, solve them and do not change the structure.
– Only change the structure if there are no major system violations.
– If the structure is changed, then the vision/strategy and the culture must be considered. Do all three fit together?

HISTORY OF ORIGIN – FROM THE PRINCIPLES OF ACTION IN SYSTEMS TO THE SYSTEM LAWS 

In the mid-1990s therapists and consultants began to transfer Hellinger’s method of family constellations as well as the underlying principles to the organisational context, i.e. the professional field. In direct succession, Gunthard Weber, who shaped organizational constellations in particular, and Klaus Grochowiak as representatives of system-dynamic organizational consulting are to be mentioned here. At the same time, the systemic structural constellations of Insa Sparrer and Matthias Varga von Kibéd have been developed since the beginning of the 1990s. Their special characteristics include the combination with other consulting and therapeutic methods, such as solution-focused short therapy, and the multitude of constellation variations.  

In the following the two books are briefly presented, in which the basic principles in systems are described in different forms and which have served as a basis for my further development to the system laws. 

Bert Hellinger (Ordungen der Liebe, Munich 2001, p. 49 ff) observed the following basic principles in his constellations with families and organizations over the years:

In the family (without specifying an order):

  • Everyone has the same right to belong.
  • Sooner before later
  • New system before old system
  • Higher use before less use
  • Priority of the first bond and priority of the intimate
  • Compensation through appreciation

Insa Sparrer (Wunder, Lösung und System, Heidelberg 2001, p. 114 ff) and Varga von Kibed have put the principles of action that emerged in the constellation work on a theoretical basis (with an order):

Principle: Existence of a system (affiliation)
Principle: Growth and reproduction (appreciation of the order) (earlier before later in the system and new system before old system)
Principle: Regulation of the energy flow (higher use)
Principle: Individual maturation of system members (performance and ability priority) 

1. metaprinciple: the given must be accepted
2. metaprinciple: order of the basic principles from 1 to 4

Hanseatic Institut

Empower Systems -  We solve/ prevent emotional conflicts and develop personalities. For more power in the system.

 

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