SCTRI is a non-profit organization that supports training and research in the systems-centered approach. We are an international association of over 230 members from around the world and most of what we do is done by action groups of volunteer members. Our members include therapists, organizational consultants, pastoral educators, managers, educators, administrators, and curious people.
The Systems-Centered Training & Research Institute (SCTRI) was established in 1995 under the wing of Resources for Human Development, a not-for-profit organization providing support for fledgling public service groups.
As of July 3, 2006, SCTRI is an independent non-profit organization, recognized as a charitable organization under IRS code 501(c)(3).
Knowledge and Research. A primary purpose for this organization is to contribute to knowledge with a theory of living human systems and to do related research in long- and short-term change strategies.
Education and Training. A primary purpose for this organization is to continue development of methods of systems-centered education and practice and to train systems-centered practitioners to serve the community.
Community Development and Contribution. The organization will introduce SCT strategies for change to organizations, groups and individuals in private, public and clinical settings.
The Goal of Trademark Licensing: to maintain the integrity of SCT methods and to ensure their practice within the following values:
1. Respect for the dignity and worth of all human beings.
2. Respect for context: members’ behavior congruent with the norms of the environment and the norms of SCT.
3. Multi-level thinking: self-centering within a systems-centered context.
4. Empowerment of groups: authority residing with the group.
5. Decentralized authority: maximum local autonomy.
6. Commitment to develop a systems-centered environment: differences are discriminated and integrated in the service of the goal.
7. Creativity: to express our creativity, while affirming the creativity of others.
8.Open communication: communicating thoughts, feelings and concerns directly.
9. Diversity: no discriminatory behavior around race, ethnicity, culture, education, economic status, age, disability, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
10. Organizational integrity: strive to live our values, saying what we mean and being open to hearing others’ differences.
11. Accountability: quality service adjusted through an ongoing collaborative process with consumers.
Name and General Provisions
Section 1. Name. The name of this organization shall be Systems-Centered Training and Research Institute, hereinafter referred to as SCTRI.
Section 2. Incorporation. SCTRI, the organization, was incorporated July 3, 2006 under the provisions of the General Laws of the State of Georgia as a not-for-profit organization, exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501(c)(3). Net earnings of the organization shall not accrue to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual; no substantial part of the resources or activities of the organization shall be used to attempt to influence legislation not related directly to the practice of systems-centered theory and methods; and the organization shall not participate in, or intervene in (including publishing or distributing statements) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.
Section 3. Trademark. SCT®, Systems-Centered® and Systems-Centered Therapy® are registered trademarks of Yvonne M. Agazarian and the Systems-Centered Training and Research Institute.
Section 1. Knowledge and Research. A primary purpose for this organization is to contribute to knowledge with the theory of living human systems and to do related research in long- and short-term change strategies.
Section 2. Education and Training. A primary purpose for this organization is to continue development of methods of systems-centered education and practice and to train systems-centered practitioners to serve the community.
Section 3. Community Development and Contribution. The organization will introduce SCT strategies for change to organizations, groups and individuals in private, public and clinical settings.
Organizational Structure and Authority
Section 1. Organizational Management. The Management Group (Article III, Section 2) has responsibility for the overall governance and management of SCTRI according to its mission and values. The group meets twice each year, unless otherwise determined by the Management Group, at a time and place decided by the group one year in advance and recorded by the Secretary, to:a. Explicitly review the structure and function of SCTRI and the Management Group;b. Train and mentor each other in management roles to ensure continuity in the structure and function of organizational management;c. Maintain accountability for implementation of decisions of the Management Group;d. Review use of trademarks and any issues related to the rights and responsibilities of license holders with trademark holder(s);e. Select the Director, Secretary and Treasurer, Steering Group and consultants based on functional criteria.
Section 2. Management Group/Board of Directors. The Management Group shall be the Board of Directors of the organization and consist of all those members that have become part of the Management Group, as it is constituted from time to time to have no less than one member and no more than forty-five members. A quorum sufficient for making organizational decisions shall consist of those members present. Members who have successfully completed the intermediate level of training through completion of the Authority Issue Group are eligible to join the Management Group, and become members of the Management Group by attending the regularly scheduled meetings and being recorded by the Secretary. Criteria for self-selection include:a. Time, energy, resources, and willingness to commit to attending two meetings per year (one for members who live abroad), including the two-day experiential training prior to each meeting;b. A commitment to contribute to the Management Group goals;c. Taking up leadership in SCTRI;d. Agreeing to decision by consensus and withdrawing from Management Group membership if unable to do so.
Section 3. Steering Group. The Steering Group is assigned plenipotentiary authority between Management Group meetings to maintain the vision and policies, and oversee the daily operational function of SCTRI. This group meets weekly, unless otherwise determined by the Steering Group, and can call upon the Management Group as needed to consult or meet by notice of no less than three days. Members are selected from the Management Group on a semi-annual basis, serving from one Management Group meeting to the next, and have responsibility to:a. Implement policies and programs as directed by the Management Group;b. Inform the Management Group regarding progress and developments between meetings of the Management Group;c. Inform the Management Group of emergent organizational issues and any recommendations regarding these issues.
Section 4. Organizational Decisions. Systems-centered methods, particularly functional subgrouping, are employed to resolve conflict and build consensus in making decisions. Consensus means that every member of the group agrees to support decisions of the group and make them work whether or not he or she agrees with them.
Work of the Organization
Action groups form as needed to implement the work of SCTRI. Action groups are filled by volunteers from membership.
Section 1. Eligibility for Membership. Persons who are in sympathy with the objectives and purposes of SCTRI and support its mission and values shall be eligible for general membership in the organization.
Section 2. Term of Membership. Membership shall be year to year, activated and maintained by payment of dues for the current year.
Section 3. Dues. Membership dues shall be set by the Management Group.
Section 4. Financial Consideration. A central value of the organization is that no one be kept from membership due to lack of financial resources. To implement this policy, fees and assessments are designated “more or less,” with an understanding that an individual may pay more if he or she wishes to, or negotiate to pay less if he or she cannot afford the set fee.
Section 1. Director. The Director must be a member of the Management Group who demonstrates mastery of the theory of living human systems and its application to work with individuals, groups and organizations and whose work exemplifies the values and mission of SCTRI. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the work of the organization is in alignment with the theory, values and vision of SCT, for monitoring official communications between SCTRI and outside organizations, and for holding the Management Group accountable for fulfilling its roles and responsibilities.
Section 2. Secretary. The Secretary is responsible for preparing, compiling and authenticating the records SCTRI, including records of the Management and Steering Group meetings.
Section 3. Treasurer. The Treasurer is responsible for making the financial report to the Management Group, selecting the fiscal year, and ensuring that appropriate tax filings and records are completed.
Section 4. Appointments and Terms of Service. The Director, Secretary and Treasurer are selected and serve at the discretion of the Management Group, who shall have full authority to make decisions regarding length of service in accordance with Article III, Section 4 of these bylaws.
Section 1. SCTRI holds an annual meeting, open to all members, and interested others of the public in observer roles.a. The annual meeting shall be held at the time and place of the annual conference.b. If there is no annual conference in any given membership year, notice of the time and place of the annual meeting shall be made to all Members at their recorded addresses provided in the organizational directory at least three weeks prior to the scheduled meeting.
Amending the Bylaws
Section 1. The bylaws can be amended by approval of two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Management Group.
Section 2. Dissolving the organization. The organization may be dissolved by decision of the Management Group in accordance with Article III, Section 4, and Article VIII, Section 1. The Management Group has responsibility for the distribution of organizational assets in a manner consistent with the organization’s charitable purpose.
Article VI Officers, is hereby amended to include:
Section 5. System Mentors. The System Mentors are responsible for monitoring and mentoring the function of SCTRI as a whole. They demonstrate mastery of the theory of living human systems and its application to work with individuals, groups and organizations and their work exemplifies the values and mission of SCTRI. They are responsible for ensuring that the function of the organization, its members and practitioners, is in alignment with the theory, values and vision of SCT.
On and effective October 15, 2006, the Management Group recognized the longstanding functional role of System Mentors as Officers of the organization and approved this amendment by two-thirds majority vote of the full Management Group, in accordance with Article VIII, Section 1, of these Bylaws.
Article VIII Amending the Bylaws, is hereby amended as follows:Section 1. The bylaws can be amended by consensus of the Management Group, as defined in Article III, Section 4.
On and effective April 22, 2007, the Management Group approved this amendment by consensus.
Article III Organizational Structure and Authority, is hereby amended to include:
Section 1. Organizational Management.e. Select the Director, Associate Director, Secretary and Treasurer, Steering Group and consultants based on functional criteria.
On and effective October 23, 2010, the Board of Directors approved this amendment by consensus.
Section 4. Appointments and Terms of Service. The Director, Associate Director, Secretary and Treasurer are selected and serve at the discretion of the Management Group, who shall have full authority to make decisions regarding length of service in accordance with Article III, Section 4 of these bylaws.
Section 6. Associate Director. The Associate Director is a member of the Steering Group who is responsible for monitoring the function and operation of the organization, supporting communication and cooperation among action groups, and ensuring consistency with the norms and values of the organization.
The Steering Group proposes changing “Management Group” to “Board of Directors” throughout the bylaws. The Board is working at the policy and vision level and the term Management Group no longer fits.
Article I Name and General Provisions, is hereby amended to read:
Section 3. Trademark. SCT® and Systems-Centered® are registered trademarks of Yvonne M. Agazarian and the Systems-Centered Training and Research Institute.
The term Systems-Centered Therapy® was not renewed in June 2007.
On and effective October 23, 2011, the Board of Directors approved this amendment by consensus.
The following revisions reflect additional roles and responsibilities that have emerged with the continued development of the organization.
Section 1. Organizational Management.e. Select the Chair, Director, Associate Director, Secretary and Treasurer, Steering Group and consultants based on functional criteria.
Section 1. Director. The Director is a member of the Steering Group who is responsible for monitoring the function and operation of the organization, supporting communication and cooperation among action groups, and ensuring consistency with the norms and values of the organization. The Director acts on behalf of the Board of Directors in holding the organization accountable to its mission and for ensuring that the work of the organization is in alignment with the theory, values and vision of SCT, and is accountable to the Chair and to the Board of Directors. Working with the Chair, the Director is also responsible for holding the Board of Directors accountable for fulfilling its roles and responsibilities.
Section 4. Appointments and Terms of Service. The Chair, Director, Associate Director, Secretary and Treasurer, are selected and serve at the discretion of the Board of Directors, who shall have full authority to make decisions regarding length of service in accordance with Article III, Section 4 of these bylaws.
Section 6. Associate Director. The Associate Director is a member of the Steering Group who works with the Director in monitoring the function and operation of the organization, supporting communication and cooperation among action groups, and ensuring consistency with the norms and values of the organization.
Section 7. Chair. The Chair shall be a member of the Board of Directors who demonstrates mastery of the theory of living human systems and its application to work with individuals, groups and organizations and whose work exemplifies the values and mission of SCTRI. The Chair is responsible for how SCT crosses the boundary and is represented in the larger world, holding the authority, responsibility, and accountability for the organization’s ownership of trademarks and copyrights. The Chair provides leadership to the Board of Directors, and with the Director is responsible for holding the Board accountable for fulfilling its roles and responsibilities. The Chair is selected and confirmed or removed by the Board of Directors, is accountable to the Board and acts on its behalf in holding the Director accountable for carrying out the responsibilities of the Director role, as determined by the Board.
On and effective December 12, 2017, the Board of Directors approved this amendment by consensus.
The SCTRI Board of Directors met in June over four days. This happens twice a year, usually Spring and Autumn – we ran into Summer on this occasion. As always, we began with two days of process work to reduce restraining forces to taking up our roles as Board members, both during the following two days of task work and in our membership in the organization. We decided to extend the task work to two full days in order to make up some of the lost time that comes from working online.
A piece of context: we had intended to meet in person this time, and again we decided to meet online, due to the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic. A brief summary of the work of each section follows below.
Process work: Reducing restraining forces to taking up our Board roleAll Board members share force fields before we meet, identifying what we see as our own driving and restraining forces for taking up our Board roles. The two days of process work begins with reviewing these and identifying the themes that show up as work for the group. Particularly important are the survival role systems we identify, and the shift to seeing these as a function of the system of the Board and voices for SCTRI, rather than taking them just personally.
Our force fields this time highlighted flight/fight dynamics; we explored undoing our survival roles and role locks through subgrouping.
Over the two days some important themes emerged. A central image was the baby and the bathwater; how to protect the baby (the heart of SCTRI) whilst also being open to change – it’s not good to leave the baby in bathwater without changing it. We also explored the dirty messy side of things, wanting access to common sense but knowing that the sense I make of things is not the same as the sense others make of things, and the induction then in us all is into avoidance or fight. How can we access a sensing which is common to us all, which allows for difference and integration, so the baby does not remain a baby but can develop and transform? One phrase which emerged was “heart sense” and we followed the direction this led for us, leading towards the possibility of integrating differences. We also recognized that compromise is not the same as integration as we took up the challenge of exploring conflicts which are isomorphic with conflicts in the world.
We spent time subgrouping around issues connected to climate change, with two aspects to this exploration. Firstly, how do we use what we know from our theory and methods to influence the world to live in reality and engage seriously with this issue, rather than avoid the reality of it or fight over it? Secondly, how do we address our own behaviour as an organization in relation to our carbon footprint? These represent early steps in beginning to subgroup around these profound questions, and we will need to continue this work in future meetings. In the meantime, the work laid the foundations for decisions in the task part of the meeting.
We worked hard to use what we know to deal with this and other differences and we made a start to the work. In a felicitous summary from a member, we worked to influence the climate in our meeting as a first step to giving us a base to influence work on this in the organization and in relation to climate change in the world.
Lastly, we welcomed back Heather Twomey as a Board member and integrated her and her perspectives.
Taking up substantive questions: Organizational work In the task part of our work, we reviewed, with appreciation, the reports to the Board from the organizational action groups, all of whom volunteer their time and energy and enable the organization to function. A reminder – any member of SCTRI can join these action groups, selecting those to which they want to contribute time, energy and resources. The groups and their minutes are listed on the web site.
In deciding how to prioritize, we kept in mind the Board’s role of setting policy rather than implementing it. Putting policy into practice rests with the Steering Group, a subset of Board members that meets weekly.
We addressed succession planning for the Director and other key roles in the organization. We recognized that those of us on the Board had a responsibility to reach out to post-AIG members, new and older, and actively mentor them so that if they have energy for it they know the pathway to join us on the Board. New members are the next generation who would take on the running of SCTRI one day. As for the Director role, Mike Maher was due to step down by the end of 2022; he let the Board know that he had discovered a willingness to extend his tenure to the autumn Board meeting of 2024. The Board expressed appreciation at this news.
A new development was shared with the Board, relating to changes to Kathy Lum’s role. The role will change from an administrative one to one which more reflects Kathy’s resources and the potential for influence that her pivotal position within the organisation offers. The new role - which at the moment is called System Liaison but which may change - will work closely with the Director to make decisions which need to be done in a timely manner and which do not need Steering Group discussion. The role will also link work groups together and take leadership initiatives which we as a system need to develop. The Steering Group will oversee the development of this new role.
The Board addressed meeting structures and agreed in principle that meeting once a year in person and once a year online offered a more sustainable model for the organization in the future. It also might reduce restraining forces to joining the Board – we will see! We agreed to meet in person in Philadelphia for the next Board meeting in October, if the prevailing context for travel and physical closeness allowed.
In another development relating to leadership more generally in the organization, Irene McHenry offered to convene a small action group to explore how to support emerging leadership at all levels of SCTRI.
We addressed at a vision level how we wanted to prioritize use of our financial resources towards meeting our mission. In a brief go round of the group what emerged as the top two priorities were training and research; using our money to reduce restraining forces to accessing training to under-resourced communities and offering training to organizations that are working to influence public policy, and commissioning research to get SCT across the boundary into the world.
A final reminder – all members of SCTRI who have completed Authority Issue Group training are welcome to join the Board. All Board members are happy to discuss what this entails.
Board of DirectorsClaudia Byram, Fran Carter, Rowena Davis, Dick Ganley, Susan Gantt, Dorothy Gibbons, Ray Haddock, Nina Klebanoff, Juliet Koprowska, Annie MacIver, Mike Maher, Jon McCormick, Irene McHenry, Lotte Paans, Jim Peightel, Norma Safransky, Heather Twomey
Copyright 2022 by SCTRI.
All rights reserved. SCT® and Systems-Centered® are registered trademarks of the Systems-Centered Training and Research Institute, Inc., a non-profit organization. SAVI® is a registered trademark of Claudia Byram & Frances Carter.