Where we’re coming from
Navigate has been working with groups for over 15 years. Many things have changed in those years, and some things have stayed the same. Again and again, we’ve encountered tension and conflict in groups, and oftentimes this conflict has roots at a systemic level. Unclear ways of making decisions, information that hasn’t been shared, people going above and beyond what they have time and energy for, in order to keep the group going - all resulting in frustration and hurt, as well as less effectiveness in achieving a group’s purpose.
For years, we’ve been supporting groups to develop their systems and ways of working together, using an approach that we call “Living Systems”. It’s hugely influenced by the work of Dominic Barter, and also Miki Kashtan, Donella Meadows, Frederic Laloux and others.
By “Living Systems” we mean more than just procedures or policies - it’s what is lived in the organisation, and so it’s ever changing. It’s the ongoing ways of handling things like making decisions, engaging with conflict, or organising support. These may be clearly agreed and spoken about, or just the way things happen.
Where we’re going
As we’ve tried to reach more groups with this work, we saw that some materials and resources would be useful - something people could refer to and that didn’t depend on us to be present for it.
And so we’ve begun: this guide to Living Systems is a first attempt at writing down our approach to working with systems. There will likely be further versions in the future. If you like, you can send us feedback on it at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve also begun working on an on-demand online course, based off the training we ran in autumn 2020 ‘Living Systems for Thriving Groups’. There will be videos, resources, reflection questions and templates to support you to work with your group on systems - all at your own pace. More on that in early 2022.
Share your systems with us
One thing we’d like your help with: something we often hear when doing this work is that examples would be really helpful - examples of systems that are up and running and functioning. If you - through work with us or independently - have a system that you’ve articulated in some way (be it written down, as a flowchart, as picture or another way) that you’d be up for us sharing with the world, please send it (preferably as a link) to: email@example.com