Approche systémique

Dans un monde en constante évolution, où les entreprises sont confrontées à des défis de plus en plus complexes, il est essentiel de développer des approches innovantes pour soutenir efficacement leur transformation. The systems approach is proving to be a powerful tool in this quest for transition and adaptation. Let’s delve into this concept to understand its ins and outs, and explore how it can be integrated into corporate transformation processes.

What is the systems approach?

The systems approach, originating from the Palo Alto School, considers phenomena as interconnected and interdependent within a system. Whether in consulting, coaching or corporate problem-solving, this approach takes a global, holistic view, highlighting the interactions between the various stakeholders. Rather than focusing on isolated elements, it looks at the overall functioning of the system and the relationships that underpin it.

4 key system principles

An overview of the organization

Instead of fragmenting problems, the systems approach seeks to understand the whole system, including the relationships between its various components. It’s about looking at the whole as a whole, and realizing that it’s not possible to change one part without impacting the rest of the system. This is interesting both for diagnosing problems and for designating the structural transformations that will resolve them in depth.

To understand the disappointing results of most transformation programs, we need to remember that conventional management training and consulting approaches will focus on managing only some of the elements; whole swathes of data will be overlooked.

Based on our holistic approach, we approach business transformation around four complementary quadrants that enable individual employees and companies to adapt to the environment in which they operate. This framework reminds us that there are internal and external elements, and individual and collective elements to be analyzed and impacted by the transformation program.

The Individual's Inner Dimension

includes the beliefs, values and emotional state of each of your employees.

The Outer Individual Dimension

includes the skills and know-how of your employees.

The Inner Collective Dimension

involves ways of working, the sharing of symbolic experiences, common values and the mission statement within your company, which are factors of cohesion and alignment.

The Exterior Collective Dimension

is materialized in your organization, your strategy or your governance, but also by the place occupied within your ecosystem, in connection with all your stakeholders.

A focus on interactions and interdependencies

Rather than focusing solely on issues per subject or per direction, this approach examines the patterns of communication and interaction between directions in the corporate system, at both managerial and operational levels, recognizing that changes in one part will have repercussions on the whole.

Systems are also dynamic and constantly evolving. The systems approach encourages flexibility and adaptability in response to unforeseen changes and new information. It highlights the feedback loops and circular dynamics that keep problems in place, focusing on how the behaviors of some influence the behaviors of others.

A vision focused on the present and the future

The systems approach takes into account time and the evolution of systems. It considers both short- and long-term changes, as well as the feedback that can occur over time.

Rather than analyzing past causes of problems in depth, the Palo Alto approach focuses on practical, immediate change-oriented solutions.

Managers have a very partial view of the real motivations and values of the groups working together on strategy. Ineffective leadership practices can easily sabotage the best strategies by forcing stakeholders to manage primarily the expectations of their superiors, instead of providing resources to their teams.

Une vision orientée vers le présent et l'avenir

Stakeholder participation

Systemically trained consultants seek to actively involve stakeholders in the problem-solving process. They learn how to help managers and their teams take ownership of their own problems instead of pointing the finger at others, and thus regain the power to act at level. This introduces a characteristic of “vulnerability” into the system – cultivating a willingness to understand how everyone currently contributes to problems, and showing how everyone can participate in the response and success. This promotes a shared understanding of the issues and potential solutions.

Consultants trained in the holistic approach help to identify systemic problems, and act to improve communication and transmission channels between departments. They can recommend specific practices and tasks to system members to encourage new behaviors and new ways of formulating key information.

With our consulting, training and coaching teams, we design pedagogical approaches that enable the customer to prepare for empowerment, and to prevent the system from regressing when we are no longer involved in the process.

How can the systems approach be integrated into business transformation?

The application of the systems approach makes it possible to take into account the inherent complexity of organizations and the problems they face, to identify more sustainable solutions by considering the whole system rather than isolated parts.

My colleague Alexis Desouches, coach and consultant for Connection Leadership, and teacher of organizational transformation in our certification program, The Mountain, shares best practices for taking a systemic approach to transformation.

Talking to all stakeholders

Talking to all stakeholdersa “It’s essential to take every element of the system into account and actively involve all stakeholders, whether they are managers or not,” explains Alexis.

Indeed, everyone in the system is important, because they are part of it. Everyone is called upon to participate, and participates de facto. So it’s important to emulate and question the whole system, to get a more accurate picture.

Obama had a systemic conscience too

Secondly, it’s important to target the people who are most likely to initiate a dynamic of change, and then readjust if necessary. The important thing is to co-construct, to suggest ways forward, so that we can help them achieve their objectives.

To illustrate this, Alexis tells me this anecdote: John F. Kennedy was walking through the corridors of NASA when he saw a man in charge of maintenance and asked him: “What are you doing, sir?” His answer: “I’m helping to send people into space”.

Accepting resistance and difficult moments

The difficult moments along the way are often a sign that the changes we’ve made are profound and will bring about a significant transformation.

The difficult moments along the way are often a sign that the changes we’ve made are profound and will bring about a significant transformation. This requires constant energy, as well as clear authorizations and guidelines to keep the whole organization running while being shaken up by the changes taking place.

Managers, in particular, can be supported in their own transformation and be in a position to deploy this evolution within their organization. “The role of consultants and coaches is then paramount, to establish an alliance based on trust and confidentiality, enabling them to navigate confidently through the most difficult moments of the transformation process.”

At Connection Leadership, we like to use a pair of consultants and coaches who work in tandem to address both the technical aspects (hard skills) and the human aspects (soft skills) of transformation, such as communication, emotional management, conflict resolution and stress management.

Think long-term and empower the system

In a world where urgency is often the order of the day, and results are expected to be immediate, it’s important to take the time needed to bring organizational transformations to fruition. “Open up, lay down, take steps, practice, improve step by step…” says Alexis as he shares the process.

It’s also crucial to empower the system itself. This means ensuring that there is a real transfer of skills and knowledge within the organization, rather than simply filling temporary gaps with the intervention of external players.

To achieve this, it is necessary to invest time in the development of in-house teams, offering them training and learning opportunities. By investing in the understanding and application of the systems approach, organizations demonstrate a genuine commitment to the development of their teams and their internal culture. This approach is not simply a surface solution to problems, but rather a long-term investment in people and in the organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in a constantly changing environment.

réfléchir sur le temps

If you’re working on these transformational issues, or would like to develop them further, get in touch with us to find out more about Connection Leadership’s practical solutions.

Plus qu’un cabinet de conseil, Connection Leadership est votre partenaire dans la transformation holistique. Our approach, based on transversality and pragmatism, brings you all the necessary elements to co-construct the transformation of your company. This co-construction is carried out with all levels of the company to improve collective commitment. Our coaching and transformation programs are designed to bring impact and concrete results, ultimately empowering you in your transformation.