Something new is about to happen in organizational development and it will challenge our ways of thinking and working with these issues. From different angles, our traditional and sometimes rigid hierarchies are beginning to be questioned and challenged. In many ways, these companies have contributed to much good and created welfare and growth for both individuals, companies and communities. BUT, more and more voices are being heard that it no longer works. People are becoming burned out, organizations are anorexic, sickness rates are rising and companies are not delivering the same growth and results as before.
During the last 10-year period, most companies have undergone some form of major change; reorganization, acquisitions, cuts, centralization, decentralization, mergers, etc. All to find new ways forward in a tangled jungle, but perhaps not always with such successful results.
Fredric Laloux, a former consultant from McKinsey and coach for many business leaders, has, based on his own experience, for a number of years investigated what needs to happen for companies to become well-developed and long-term sustainable. From his research came the book Reinventing Organizations.
What is Teal?
In the book, he describes how human development has also contributed to us taking different steps in the development of organizations and companies. From the traditional companies, the next step has been taken by quite a few companies where they work based on a common set of values and where the employeeship is stronger in focus. He takes the step further to identify another type of organization of companies, which may not be as common, but which is based on where we have come in our human development. He calls these organizations Teal organizations.
The Teal organizations are characterized by the fact that the purpose and mission of the company is not only for the work of the management, but all work is based on this. The employees are part of a self-organizing and self-governing team, where job descriptions are missing. As an employee, you have a role, and you can also have several roles. The organizational structure is not fixed but flows, changes and is adapted based on the various requirements and conditions that exist to achieve the organization’s purpose.
In the book, Laloux describes different levels of human development and you can see that organizations and companies also develop based on these levels.
The levels of development are fundamental to understanding Laloux’s reasoning.
The red level can be likened to a pack of wolves. There is always a strong leader, man or woman, who can be challenged by another person who aspires to the very top.
Criminal gangs are often organized on a red level.
The red level has several advantages compared to even earlier levels. Now you can distribute the work in a completely different way than before through clearly defined roles. Even if the leader does not stay that long, there is at least a leader who also makes decisions.
At this leel individuals have very clear roles and responsibilities and they do not run the same risk of being challenged by someone else as at the red level. The Army and the Church are good examples of organizations run in accordance with Amber.
The difference is that there is higher stability and it also makes the work easier to plan, which facilitates long-term perspective in the business.
Businesses run on the basis of this level value stability, processes and formal roles.
The orange level can be symbolized by a machine, here productivity and results are valued. You earn position, rank or benefits based on what you have achieved in the form of results.
The orange level is the absolutely dominant organizational level today. You can choose almost any company that is goal-oriented, and that strives for growth and profitability and you will see that they operate from an orange level.
We leave machine thinking and develop further, now we are on the green level that is all about the “family”. Instead of being extremely result-focused, the driving force is a strong common set of values. The ambition to make consensus decisions and the feeling of inclusion are strong factors. Here you are not prepared to give up your values. Unlike how it can be at the orange level, where you can imagine doing it if it can give a better result.
Employee commitment is a strong motivating factor and a sense of belonging and harmony in the organization is important to us here.
We have now reached the level that Laloux describes in detail, Teal (dark turquoise). The metaphor of an organization is ONE living organism. Leadership is spread throughout the organization and self-organization has replaced the hierarchies. The focus is on a common purpose as a starting point for creating results together, still without compromising their values.
Trust and personal responsibility with a mandate are extremely important for these organizations. Decision-making has been carried out as far as possible to individuals and groups who can best make the decisions. Discussions are held in the groups that will drive the work forward together and there are also advisory processes that will support decision-making. For all this to work, the competence of all colleagues is needed in terms of the ability to give and receive feedback, communicate constructively and handle conflicts.
I who work in a Teal organization am seen as a whole person. It’s about me not having to play a role, holding up a facade to be accepted at work. Here I am seen and confirmed as the person I am.
What is the difference between Teal and Purpose Driven Organizations?
In both types of organizations, there is a clear purpose formulated that acts as a guiding light for the organization. Through the purpose, a strategy can then be designed that guides us in our decision-making.
The difference as we see it is that in Teal organizations we have taken the organizational and leadership issues further than what might be done in a purpose-driven organization. The Teal organization has a clear autonomy and the managers no longer exist. There is leadership but it is taken by all staff depending on what issues it is about. Self-leadership is clearly articulated and actively worked with in Teal.
In a purpose-driven organization, the managers can remain. It is not an end in itself to become self-organizing in this form of organization. The development can go in this direction in the long run when we work with the individual purpose of everyone in the organization. It can create an enormous force and commitment in everyone that can contribute to the development to go towards Teal and self-organization.