Get the system swinging

Information & authors
von Dr. Torsten Breden, Nicole Dufft und Dr. Andreas Stiehler

How do we create an environment in which organizations can change continuously and constructively? We at fibonacci & friends are convinced that resonance is the key to a new quality of collaboration and a healthy ability to change. But what do we mean by resonance and how can it be created?

What is resonance?

Most of us are familiar with the term resonance from physics - here it refers to ‘the amplified resonance of a vibrating system’. However, Jena sociologist HartmutRosa takes the concept of resonance even further - as a metaphor to describe social phenomena.  His 2016 work‘Resonance - A sociology of our relationship to the world’ has greatly inspired our work in the field of management consulting and organisational development.

The idea behind it: We humans strive for resonant relationships, want to be noticed, resonate within the system and feel effective in the process. The quality of our relationships, i.e. whether and how we experience resonance, determines our perceived quality of life and our motivation.

We all know situations in which we experience resonance in Rosa's sense - in which we feel accepted, safe, touched and strong, in short: ‘self-effective’: whether on a walk in the woods, working on an exciting project, playing sports or talking to a good customer. However, we are also familiar with situations in which no resonance was felt at all during the same activity.

Whether or not we experience a positive resonance depends on how we engage with our environment and what it reflects back to us. We are in resonance with ourselves, with other people and with our environment, when we can enter into a lively exchange and at the same time be authentic and open. When we listen and are heard, when this touches and changes us.

Resonance is the key to a new quality of collaboration!

In recent years, most companies have invested huge sums in leadership development, cultural change, and modern workplace infrastructures and have given their employees more and more freedom to organize their work (home office, self-organisation, etc.). And yet the climate in most companies is not characterized by resonance.

Quite the opposite: many leaders are downright desperate as they are unable to inspire their teams to make further changes. Instead, they look into the empty eyes of employees who feel overwhelmed and burnt out in the face of the ever-increasing pace of change. Everyone - whether employees or managers - feels that things can't go on like this, but can't find a way out. Everyone is ready for change, and yet exhaustion and resignation prevail.

Most people have already experienced what resonant collaboration in a vibrating system feels like and the power it can unleash. In such situations, discussions are not characterized by a series of monologues, but by a mutually beneficial exchange in which everyone experiences themselves as effective. In such a climate, it is not important WHO said what, but WHAT has been said and how joint solutions can be developed.  

Instead of primarily asserting their own interests, employees literally pull together. And they feel good about it: because the result of resonant collaboration is more than the sum of the individual contributions. Whether in team sports, orchestral music or in a company: Exceptional performance is not possible without resonance in a team.   

What distinguishes resonance from mindfulness?

To prevent employees from burning out in the age of change, more and more companies are offering mindfulness courses. There is nothing wrong with this at first. The conscious and non-judgemental perception of the here and now, as taught in mindfulness seminars and practised in more and more companies, is a necessary prerequisite for resonance.  

However, mindfulness alone does not automatically lead to better collaboration. This is because the individual is always part of a system and if this does not resonate, the mindfulness trend can even exacerbate dissonance. In the worst case scenario, employees feel compelled to practice mindfulness just to fulfil the norm. This may lead to marginal productivity gains in the short term, but at the same time it can increase individualization and ultimately lead to further uncertainty. Employees are left on their own and the system - to stay with the image of resonance - becomes increasingly silent.

(How) Can resonance be managed?

So as not to be misunderstood: Resonance is ‘unavailable’, it cannot be ‘managed’ or‘ guaranteed’. After all, it is based on human experiences - and these are highly individual and situationally different. But we believe it is possible, even essential, to create conditions in which resonant relationships can develop.  

This is the basis for our strategy consulting: we want to set the system in motion so that we can implement sustainable changes together - for example, implementing digital strategies, establishing new organizational models in IT or fundamentally redesigning recruitment. This is where we differ from traditional management and strategy consultancies: In order to change things, we start by changing the way people think. To do this, we have a team of experienced management consultants, psychologists, analysts and lawyers.

fibonacci& friends as a resonance chamber

We do not see ourselves as knowledgeable, but as continuous learners. After all, there are no simple answers to the economic, political and social changes brought about by artificial intelligence, demographic change, climate change, etc.Research and teaching on these topics are often still in their infancy. At the same time, the experience of companies and politicians with the transformation from traditional industrial organizations to new organizational models is still limited.

Against this background, we also see fibonacci & friends as a sounding board for the interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and experience - with the aim of further developing the new thinking required for true change and sharing our knowledge on this with companies and society.

We cordially invite you to work with us on and in resonance!

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