Fields of connection

I’ve finished reading a very interesting book “Fields of Connection” by Jan Jacob Stam (i’ve read in Dutch: het verbindende veld). The book is about the practice of systemic work and organizational constellations. In this post I’ll give a brief summary and explore its use for organizational development.

Stam describes three fundamental principles that, when observed,  contribute a healthy and powerful organization (in order of importance):

  • - there needs to be a clear order in the system
  • - there must be a balance in giving and taking
  • - everyone in the system has a right to his or her place

Systemic order
There needs to be a clear order in the system. Everyone needs to know his or her place in the system and clear scope from which they can do their job. A organization with a clear systemic order will be more decisive.

Give and take
Through their work, people give something to a organization and they will get something in return. It is important that everybody can make their personal strenghts, creativity, passion and other talents to use for the organization. This balance can be seen as an exchange between giver and taker. It is not only money that can be given in return (by employer eg.). More and more we witness this in the new economy. For example with Open Source projects (product), or when you talk with someone about your area of expertise (learning).

Right of place
Everyone in the organization has equal rights to belong to the system, this includes a manager as well as the cleaner. Everyone in the organization needs to be seen and acknowledged. The history of the organization is an important aspect in this principle. People or elements that had an important role for the organization in the past need to be seen and acknowledged in order to go forward. This can be a manager who left the organization, or a specific product or service that made a great contribution to the organization’s (past) success.

These three principles contribute to general feeling of well-being in an organization. Together they create “a field of connection”.  Looking at organizations from this systemic perspective can provide a more holistic view and can be of value in personal as well as organizational development.

Last week I was fortunate to attend a workshop in family constellations, led by Bibi Schreuder (Dutch Hellinger Institute). A constellation is method that was originally used by Bert Hellinger to get information about the systemic issues in a family. More and more this method is being used in organizations (organizational constellations).  This article by Jan Jacob Stam will give a good introduction in organizational constellations.

Being part of the workshop meant for me that I was asked to represent a part of the system together with other representatives. What happens is amazing and is not yet understood by science. Yet, in my experience it appears that representative intuitively “feel” what happens at a certain place in the system and when those feelings are expressed, they are usually strongly recognized by the client. It is a very strong source of information. I experienced this myself again in last weeks workshop on how to buy adderall online.

Social learning and networking
Part of my what I do is helping organizations in using social learning and social networking approaches to develop their organization. What I often see is that people are reluctant share and learn together. Or that attempts to develop towards a knoweldge sharing culture fails for unknown reasons. Having learned more about the systemic approach I described above makes me eager to explore its use in my consulting activities. The three principles allready helped me in understanding dynamics that exist in communities of practice. I’m wondering if there any others who use this perspective in social learning, it would be great to connect!

58 Responses to “Fields of connection”

  1. 1 David Koehn


    The idea of a social learning environment fed by a field of connection is a powerful one.

    For me this relates to the nature of trust that social learning depends on.

    If the field is gamed or judged or tilted by a biased group or individual–then people distrust what they feel to “actually” be true.

    The nature of social learning in small populations and low volumes depends on a sense of connectivity and safety that feeds engagement.

    In massive volumes the bias is erased by the “culture” of the community but even large companies may not hit these thresholds.

    For this reason sponsorship, balanced management of social learning communities, and invested learning owners benefit their communities deeply. This investment by such people has long lasting effects on the life of the system.

    As a former teacher, I see social learning experiences failing both in the classroom and in cyberspace for the same reasons–lack of trust.

    Off to read the book. :-)

    David Koehn
    Director of Product Strategy
    Saba People Learning
    t: @davidkoehn

  2. 2 Joost Robben

    Hi David!

    Thanks for your extensive comment. Great to hear that in your experience you also see this relation with social learning. Trust indeed is an important factor, ive written about that also in my article i wrote with Robin Yap ( Its intruiging to notice how much the feeling of trust is influenced by the systemic field.

    The book in itself isnt about social learning at all, but in my opinion organizational constellations or the systemic view can be very powerfull in making dynamics in organization that influence trust visible.

    Im looking forward to hear your thoughts when you read the book, lets keep in touch!
    Best regards, Joost

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