By now systemic has become a meaningless label, because too many different variable, incompatible and superficial things are hidden under it. Nevertheless, we describe a certain way of working as systemic, because we consider this method as indispensable. What do we mean by this?
Systemic (not system theoretical!) is a procedure which takes into account three factors:
1. One reckons with circular causalities, i.e. with the phenomenon that systems, no matter if people, groups, or organisations, ‘create’ an environment which they regard as the cause for their own behaviour. The wife nags, because the man goes to the pub and the man goes there because the wife nags. Therefore, in coaching, one must never believe that the client is a victim of circumstances.
2. One reckons that every system is characterised by expectations of the environment, which confirms itself anew again and again by filtering out that which is in line with their own expectations. Therefore, in coaching, one must never assume that the world is only the way the client portrays it.
3. The third fundamental point of systemic working is that one differentiates the description from that which is being described: the map is not the landscape. The map always simplifies the landscape. Therefore, in the real world, there are always more contradictions, ambiguities and riddles that in the descriptions of the world, which try to create clarity, correctness and truth. Therefore, it is so important for the systemic method to reckon with the fact that riddles and contradictions are the norm. Every fanaticism, every ideology and every claim to truth confuses one’s own map with the landscape. In coaching, this means that the art of ‘safe insecurity’ is a fundamental pillar of systemic competence in working.