Marita Fridjhon, CEO and Co-Founder of CRR Global & Creator of the Organization & Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) Program

#051: Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and today’s guest and pioneering figure in the field of team and systems coaching–Marita Fridjhon–for this episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast. Marita Fridjhon is CEO and Co-Founder of CRR Global, Inc.–an ICF accredited coach training school–and the Creator of the Organization & Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) Program. Her primary focus in coaching is on systemic change, leveraging diversity, creative communication, deep democracy in conflict management and the development of learning organizations.

Marita was a guest on the TCZ podcast last year in episode #020. The show was titled: “The Dreaming Nature of Systems: How Team, Executive & Business Coaches Can Work with What’s Emerging.” Marita is now back a year later to share an overview of her recently published book: “Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence” which she co-authored with Anne Rod. Themes explored in the episode include: Why we need intelligent teams; the 5 principles of intelligent teams; the distributed nature of leadership in teams and systems; competencies of intelligent teams; the 3 phase approach to help teams discover and work with their intelligence; culturally intelligent teams; and more. Marita also provides listeners with two free resources available on the CRR Global website: 1) a benchmarking tool for creating coaching cultures in organizations; and 2) a white paper on the 5 principles and Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI).

This episode provides listeners with a taste of the insights, tips and tools that await them in this “must-read” book on team coaching! Enjoy!

Listen Now


Learn More about Marita at:





  1. Rod, Anne & Fridjhon, M. (2016). Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence.
  2. http://www.crrglobal.com
  3. RSI-White-Paper An Introduction to Relationship Systems Intelligence
  4. Creating Coaching Cultures Guide
  5. Episode #020 on “The Dreaming Nature of Teams: How Executive, Team and Business Coaches Can Work with What is Emerging” (2015 Podcast with Marita Fridjhon)

Listen to the Episode:






Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Marita Fridjhon

  • Coach and CEO and Co-Founder of CRR Global (Center for Right Relationship), ICF accredited coach training school and Creator of the Organization and Relationships Systems Coaching (ORSC) program
  • Previous guest on the podcast in Episode #020 on “The Dreaming Nature of Teams: How Executive, Team and Business Coaches Can Work with What is Emerging.”
  • Recently co-authored Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence with Ann Rod.
  • Based in California
  • Raised in South Africa during apartheid and dedicated her career to improving the human condition through a variety of practices
  • Several degrees: Clinical social work, community development, process work, family systems therapy and Alternative Dispute Resolution and deep understanding of systemic evolution
  • Her primary focus in coaching is on systemic change, leveraging diversity, creative communication, deep democracy in conflict management and the development of learning organizations.
  • Relationship work is now more cool with Brene Brown’s recent work on vulnerability; wasn’t always cool to be focusing on relationships in organizations.

Part 2 – Overview of Marita’s 2016 book “Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence”

  • Albert Einstein quote: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves form this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
  • Why write the book? Marita has been doing work in coach training for a long time; wanted to speak to the audience that they are training coaches for (e.g. CEO’s, HR, leaders, managers, etc…); interested in helping organizations make coaching cultures
  • Quote: “The system and the environment are dreaming us.”
  • Quote: “I thought I was planning but all the while I was blown across the sky by a great wind.”
  • Why do we need intelligent teams?
    • Have to talk about leadership; old leadership models aren’t doing so well out there
    • There is a competitive advantage if collective intelligence of teams can be optimized
    • Top down individual leadership model has become outdated; hard to get past
    • All our great achievements are now created by teams and not so much by individuals
    • MIT research on collective intelligence, team intelligence
    • Tony Hsieh Let’s Get Rid of All the Bosses: an indicator of this trend (though Marita has an alternative perspective on this)
    • Talking about moving from “me” to “we” and then to “it” (i.e. the system)
  • Story of an executive team that perished in a plane crash:  unless collective intelligence can be discovered in the organization, that organization is in big trouble – not about firing the managers and their roles; its about how do we empower the system to hold that intelligence and to lead.
  • Relationship Systems Intelligence
    • Builds off Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence and extends it
    • Systems Intelligence is a higher view: information is available in the environment that is beyond “me” and “we”
    • RSI: the knowledge or the ability to know that everything that happens to me or to any other individual in the team or group is not not only personal but also belongs to the team.
    • Example – a disturber or problem-child on the team; getting rid of that person doesn’t always solve the problem; it emerges through someone else; it is systemic and belongs to the organization
    • Every team has an entity, has a personality
    • Principle #1 – The Team is an Entity (has information in it that transcends the individuals); example of a government agency in Canada – created a chair for the voice of the organization; people sit in the seat and speak on behalf of the system.
    • Principle #2 – Every Member of the Team Is Not Only an Individual Voice but a Voice of the System or Organization; listening to individuals as part of the whole.
    • Principle #3 – The System Has an Intelligence of Its Own; what is it that the system is trying to convey to us
    • Principle #4 – Systems Need to Organize Themselves Through Roles; roles including the role of leadership belongs to the system and should be shared by all; not just leaders have the answers. Leadership can come from anywhere in the team. Can be a challenge and/or a relief for any formal leader.  There are formal and informal leadership roles available.  Leaning into this co-responsiblity helps create intelligence teams.  Powerful story of a Down Syndrome child that changed the atmosphere of a meeting with 350 people with Arnold Mindel in Switzerland that was getting very hot (around gender diversity issues) – powerful example of leadership emerging through the child.  Native American rites of passage – adolescents have to metaphorically “kill the leaders” and leaders have to exhibit the skill of “going down gracefully…I will step aside and help me do that….and let’s design together.” Rank Power and Privilege often resides in the CEO or in the leader – leaders need to model equality and being able to “go down gracefully”
    • Principle #5 – Systems Are in a Constant State of Emergence; speed of change; don’t have control over it; it finds us. We can come alongside the change and co-create it or we can try to fight it; conflict is always a signal for change. Rather than going after an individual it can be very powerful to talk about what is trying to emerge for our team, for our organization and come alongside it.  That takes courage – not knowing is a scary place for us as leaders, it’s not what we saw modeled when we were growing up.
  • The Competencies of Intelligent Teams: some of the competencies covered in the book – Systems awareness, Holonic shift, Context setting, give room, listening levels, distributed leadership, intention-behavior-impact, positive intentions, disagreements and curiosity, creating positivity, four learning strategies. Examples of working conflict, making system-inspired agreements, working with constellations. Experiential examples in the book. Learning how to see the system and once the system sees itself, corrective action can be taken. Gets at creating coaching cultures.
  • The 3 Phase Approach:
    • Phase 1 – Meeting Up (meeting the team where it is vs. where you might want it to be); story of an executive team that Marita met that was very down as lots of things were going wrong; Marita asked each person to talk for 1 minute about what was frustrating; did 2 rounds; after 2 rounds everyone was ready to get on with the business at hand – an example of meeting a group where it is.
    • Phase 2 – Reveal the System (working with what is trying to emerge and so that the system can see itself); example of video-taping couples and playing back the video; when you are in it you can’t see it.
    • Phase 3 – Alignment and Action (now that we have met the system and revealed it, what now do we want to act on)
  • 13 Chapters in the Book: culturally intelligent teams, diversity in teams, change in teams and more.  Designed to have a lot of practical tips and exercises.

Part 3 – Parting Thoughts & Resources

  • Latest happenings at CRR Global and ORSC:
    • Can get book Creating Intelligent Teams at CRR Global website and also at Amazon
    • Gift from Marita: benchmarks for creating coaching cultures
    • Gift from Marita: white paper on RSI and the 5 Principles
    • Expansion of their work internationally (China, Saudi, Mexico) – there is a hunger for this kind of work globally; work is supporting places like South Africa and Turkey; can help people navigate challenges
    • Auditioning for new leaders in Europe; first time people are concerned about travel due to safety concerns; sign of the times
    • Listeners can look at the training part of the CRR Global website for upcoming workshops and training programs
    • New course on the “Inside Team;” Fall series coming up in San Francisco and in other parts of the world.
    • Partnering with organizations to bring the work internally: has brought some amazing things.  Send an email to info@crrglobal with the subject “We all Win” if you know of any organizations that might be interested.

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