Frederick Laloux examines the evolution of human consciousness, explaining how Humanity invented a new, more productive organizational model every time when it shifted to a new stage.
Creativity and innovation in business seem to be more important than ever. Many companies are desperately seeking new ideas, trying to keep up while still applying a traditional organizational structure that has not been reviewed and changed for a long time.
It seems obvious that continuing to push for innovation without innovating the system itself is flogging a dead horse, but since this is the norm, we take it for granted that this is the only way. The well-known hierarchical, rule-based management style has its benefits and has worked well for a long time, but as the world is changing, it seems to have reached its limits and cannot serve us anymore.
It is time to realize that if we want to unleash human potential, we need to change the surroundings and provide the right conditions for those new ideas to thrive.
One of today’s disruptive trends is doing exactly that. A new organizational paradigm is emerging, turning our current concept of work and management upside down. This gamechanger that might transform the way we work is called “Teal”.
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“By breaking the box we can empower people to get out of it!” – Frederick Laloux
Teal organizations bring the following three breakthroughs:
- Self-management: assuming that people are trustworthy, good and accountable, and can deliver without being controlled all the time, Teal organizations work without (traditional) managers, dogmatic rules and policies. Project management is also radically simplified. Job titles are abolished and are replaced by roles that are picked up based on each individual’s talents, interests and skills.
- Wholeness: people are encouraged to show up at work with their whole personality, not just a professional, edited version of themselves. Being human, having doubts and emotions and making mistakes are OK. “Failure” is considered as an opportunity to learn.
- Evolutionary Purpose: instead of considering the organization as a mere vehicle for delivering management targets and maximizing shareholder profit, it is seen as an organic, living entity with an ever-changing purpose. Teal organizations ask questions like: How can we serve the world best? How can we deliver real value? The organization and its members are actively listening all the time to this purpose, adjusting its activities to it, instead of following well-defined, detailed management plans.
Teal organizations as “complex adaptive systems”
An Evolutionary-Teal organization exhibits many properties of a Complex Adaptive System
- It has a purpose of its own, distinct from the purposes or objectives of its members,
- It consists of a number of elements (members or teams),
- The elements interact, in a non-linear way, to achieve the purpose of the system,
- The interaction and relationships between elements are based on a few simple rules or guiding principles,
- The nature of the relationships and number of interactions between the elements result in emergent behavior – the behavior of the system is not the sum of the behaviors of the elements,
- The elements produce and use signals and information (sensing) from both external and internal environments and react accordingly,
- There is no central control,
- The elements self-organize, that is, change the relationships between themselves to adapt to changes in the environment,
- The elements learn from history, and from the environment, and adapt accordingly to ensure the survival of the system.
Teal organizations are run by self-managing teams. These teams consists of workers who each fulfill certain roles, including functional and managerial duties. All decisions are made using a simple advice process and/or a conflict resolution process when appropriate. There is no centralized control. Values are no longer given perfunctory attention but are actually lived in how people behave in the organization. Everyone listens to the organization’s purpose and takes action accordingly while sensing for changes in the environment. Out of these collective actions, the behavior of the organization emerges.