Most of our individual coaching is to increase
individual pleasure and reduce individual suffering. Most of our systemic coaching
is to increase the adaptability and survival potential of relationship systems
(e.g. a partnership, family or team).
We embed individual coaching within our systemic coaching.
Understanding human systems requires
that we assess many dimensions
that may not appear to
be connected; for example, emotions, relationships,
psychology and societal
General Systems Theory
General Systems Theory investigates the principles of
systems, and creates models to describe them. Systems theory helps predict
human behavior within human relationship systems and helps identify solutions
for relationship problems. Systems theories explore the science of complexity.
General Systems Theory is useful for understanding
how our systemic coaching can heal complex relationship problems and
emotional challenges in short time frames.
Coaching . Quantum Thinking
. Transformation in Chaos
What is a System?
A system is a set of elements in which at least two
elements are physically or logically interrelated.
A system may be a mechanical assembly, a methodology, a philosophy or a
human relationship. The important point is that the interrelated parts can
function together as a whole.
A system is more than the sum of its parts.
Every system is made up of elements. A system includes behaviors
that its elements lack. A pencil cannot function as a writer.
What are Sub-Systems?
Systems have two types of components: elements and
relationships. Relationships between elements are often called
interfaces. Some components can be grouped into sub-systems - groups
of interrelated elements connected by interfaces.
When all sub-systems and elements are connected, they
can work together as a whole. Although sub-systems may be viewed
independently, sub-systems often require maintenance to function smoothly. Such
maintenance ... and the maintainers ... are elements of the sub-system and the
Systemic Environments & Boundaries
A system's environment is anything outside its
boundaries which may influence system behavior. A boundary separates
a system from its environment, while an interface allows the system
to interact with other entities within its environment.
For example, ambient air temperature may influence system
behavior in predictable ways, yet may not be considered to be an element
of the systems it influences.
Open & Closed Systems
No system is completely open or closed. An open
system interacts with external entities in its environment. Although these
interactions are not always planned or desirable, an open system can better
survive. If a system does not or cannot obtain external resources from
the environment to maintain stability or to evolve, it is a closed system
and will disintegrate (entropy).
Open systems, with sources of energy, information,
or materials, may avoid or delay the fate of closed systems. Open
systems may evolve into better organized systems if (and only if) they
can effectively utilize environmental resources. Open systems are usually
more responsive to environmental conditions and can better connect to
external entities including other systems.
Systemic models can be applied to living systems
such as ants or antelopes. Living systems demonstrate
self-organization - they maintain order over time. This seems
to defy the second law of thermodynamics, which predicts that systems
degenerate towards entropy (or random equilibrium).
Self-organizing systems can maintain stability and ongoing
evolution by exchanging matter and energy with other systems. As these exchanges
can also destabilize a system, self-organizing systems can increase
or decrease order - if sufficient matter and energy can be
I have a master's degree in
systems engineering, yet I have not seen papers
on human systems so clear
and concise as your articles on "Systems Theory
Coaching" Thanks! Sydney, Australia
Examples of human systems include friends, teams, couples,
families and communities. Each relationship type has both common and unique challenges.
Human systems that prevent information exchange can become stuck in dogma,
codependence, superstition, bonds and
Human relationship systems …
- have interrelated elements. A system is a sum
of the relationships between its members.
- have boundaries. Members of a human system can
clarify who is within the system and who is not. A human system with loose
membership criteria (e.g. a shop) may be called open. Human
systems that are difficult to join (e.g. a family) may be called
- can be viewed on a spectrum from open to closed.
Open systems allow external people and situations to influence them.
Closed systems attempt to isolate their members.
- have subsystems. Human relationship systems
include small groups. Each subsystem has its own rules, boundaries and
- are more than the sum of their parts. The
attributes of individual members represent but not describe the
attributes of the system, and vice versa.
- interact in patterns: Predictable behaviors
(habits & rituals) help maintain equilibrium and guide the behavior of
- guide members with messages and rules.
Behavior is prescribed and limited by rules which provide order,
confer power; induce compliance and control behavior. Rules may
be perpetuated as secular law, as sacred dogma or as covert
A family system is a group of
interconnected people. Much family behavior is about enjoying intimacy,
accumulating resources, raising children to independence and
interacting with other human systems.
Gregory Bateson wrote in 1971 that if systems
incorporate feedback; they process information. As families are systems, the
minds, bodies and behaviors of family members show systemic behavior.
Family rules may
require dysfunction, such as
Family dysfunction shapes the lives and future relationships of younger
members, creating cross-generational entanglements. Sometimes, family
rules require unpleasant symptoms.
Our systemic coaching can help couples and
families resolve dysfunction and cross-generational entanglements,
although many (most?) people prefer to remain dysfunctional rather
than change their family beliefs or cultural traditions.
You may know less about your
own family dynamics than those in any other family.
Parental Alienation .
Divorce & Children
As mental, physical and relationship symptoms seem to have
functions in family systems, effective solutions for symptoms require
relationship diagnosis and systemic resources.
For example, family distress or team stress usually springs
from multiple sources, often including emotional and relationship trauma and
loss. Family distress or team stress is often intensified by unjust behavior,
and shown by excuses, blame, complaints and avoiding family members. Stress
and distress may be shown by acts of sabotage.
- If parents do not fulfill goals, their children
may sabotage their own goals
- If parents are not happy, their children may
sabotage their own happiness.
- Although childrearing is a core function of
most families, the maturation of children
may threaten immature parents, who may sabotage their children's maturity.
If we apply this to teams ... you may have
witnessed the following
- If leaders do not fulfill goals, their employees
may sabotage their own goals
- If leaders are discontent, their employees may
hide their own contentment.
- If employees development threatens incompetent leaders,
the leaders may try to
sabotage their employees'
Chaos Coaching . Executive
Relationship Enmeshments & Identity Loss
Enmeshments in human systems may be shown by
inappropriate behavior and strong emotions, such as sadness, anger or anxiety.
Entanglements are subjectively experienced as chronic inappropriate emotions,
chronic conflict or chronic dissociation, see
To heal a relationship system, it is pointless to blame any one
A witch hunt will only damage the system further. Each member has different
experiences and perspectives, and each member is likely to express
While a person who expresses emotional or physical symptoms may
be obvious, the cause of those symptoms is likely to be obscure. We offer
systemic diagnosis and systemic solutions.
Emotional entanglements can ruin individual
and harm entire relationship systems.
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