During a recent family constellation training, someone mentioned the dynamic of systems meeting systems. As we discussed the concept, I realized that the perfect example of this in an organization would be a merger or acquisition (M&A). The system of the company being acquired is meeting the system of the company doing the acquiring.

During my corporate career, I was fortunate to be involved with several M&A’s both as part of a team facilitating the integration of an acquired company into mine, and being on the integration team of a company that was being acquired. There are clearly different experiences depending on which “side” you are on but the concept of system meeting system in connection with the world of constellations was a good reminder about the need to honor both systems.

Here are some examples and thoughts about different ways in which systems might come together:

  • When a product release created by the first collaborative effort of both organizations is complete, how might a joint celebration honor the contribution of everyone involved and result in a new shared system?
  • What would happen if in reviewing the processes of the company being acquired, they were told by the acquiring company we cannot do things that way? How effective would it be to disregard a process driven by customer requirements without considering how the current environment might change or adapt?
  • Consider for a moment, that you are an employee of the company being acquired. Having finished a planning session with representatives from both companies (systems), you are asked to stand behind the person from the company that did the acquiring. How would that make you feel?
  • When it comes down to it, the companies that we come from are part of our career ancestry. If you are acquired and asked to stop referencing the organization you came from, you are being asked to dishonor your heritage. What would happen if instead of excluding parts of our ancestry, we welcomed them and gave them their rightful place?
  • When a family owned business transitions from one generation to the next, would it be more or less effective to kick out the founder and disregard what they built or to honor what was created while “blessing” the new ways of work that will be created by the next generation?

Organizational systems coming together have a unique set of challenges. Consider the ways that we can work through some of those challenges by treating the organizational ancestry as a system that needs to be honored as it is merged into the new system to create something that grows in a positive direction. www.systemsofchange.com

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