Welcome to Helping Human Systems

My name is Steven Byers and I use he/him pronouns. Working mainly in the “greater Seattle area,” I wish to respectfully acknowledge that I and my clients live on land that has been continuously stewarded throughout the generations by multiple tribes adjacent to the Salish Sea.  Specifically, living in Olympia, I acknowledge and honor the People of the Nisqually Tribe and the People of the Squaxin Island Tribe. I am personally committed to furthering equity and racial justice through my work, and to ongoing learning about how to do that better.

My work in the world is about designing ways of thinking, learning, and working together – better. In the role of trusted advisor, I work with individuals, teams, organizations, and communities – human systems – and help them gain a deeper understanding of the complex issue facing them. I look at the world through the lens of systems thinking.

Perhaps your organization or leadership team feels slightly adrift right now. There might be a sense that the work is not as energizing as it once was. Or that true north, once so clear, has been obscured by issues or questions avoided rather than discussed. Do you see patterns of behavior you would really like to change? Perhaps you notice that you are on a “problem-solution treadmill,” solving the same problems again and again. You might ask,

  • What is the conversation that’s not taking place, the question not being asked?
  • What would it take to renew our essential conversation, to bring new energy and intention to our relationships?
  • Where do we intervene for lasting change?
  • How might we see our situation from a different perspective?
  • How can we get off the problem-solution treadmill?
  • How can we build on what’s working?


In my consulting practice I focus on the quality of interaction among the parts of the organization or community – the complex systems in which we live and work. I have found that when it comes to convening people, one size does not fit all. I use various approaches, depending on circumstances: The World Café, PeerSpirit Circle, Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, and other structures. These are ways of convening people for meaningful conversation – a radical act that leads to significant change.

Wherever you are, if you’d like to join an exploration of what poet David Whyte means when he says, “The conversation is the relationship,” I invite you to read my blog. And, if you live near Olympia, Washington, please come to the First Wednesday Conversation at The Athena Group office downtown. My intention for the 2020 First Wednesday Conversation is to host provocative conversations about racial equity, social and racial justice, bias and racism, and anger. My hope is that we will see how our familiar frames of systems thinking, leadership, inquiry, and conversation are challenged and changed when we talk about these topics. My hope is that we will expose our own biases and mental models, and thereby change ourselves.

Send me an email or call me at 360 259-0340 to receive my monthly email invitation to this gathering.

I invite you to explore this website in order to learn more about me, my work, recent collaborations, and ongoing learning. My intention is to enrich my colleagues and clients, stimulate conversation, and generate opportunities to do more good work.

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