Teal organization as presented in the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux provides a wonderful model of the evolution of organizations. It draws from the work of Spiral Dynamics, a psychological model that highlights and names stages of development.
It has proven a useful tool for understanding human behavior, psychological development, cultural development, leadership and communications. It was developed by Clare W. Graves, a contemporary of Abraham Maslow.
Graves initially sought to validate Maslow’s conclusion and his 20 years of research went beyond Maslow’s model of need. He developed a model that explained how people develop their worldviews, values and behaviors. (For more detailed study this is a good link https://scottjeffrey.com/spiral-dynamics/#What_is_Spiral_Dynamics)
What is an organization?
There is a lot of discussion today about what is an organization. Some say it is a machine of production to be streamlined to operate efficiently – the view that dominated most of the 20th century. There is a growing number of people who argue it is more organic in nature: it is a living system which operate through flows of energy.
There are few, like me, that experience an organization as a living being, a “person.” A living being is by definition a living system with the additional ability to create its own Context. (See my blog https://quantumleaders.com/whats-the-right-model-a-machine-a-living-system-or-a-living-being/).
The only way we can apply Graves work to organizations, as Laloux has done, is if we recognize that an organization is a living being. Only a living being goes through psychological development and establishes a worldview (Context) that influence and drive values and behaviors.
Teal Is a stage of development
The key to following Laloux’s work is not to look at the Teal organization as a new way to structure an organization. Rather Teal is a stage of development that allows an organization to operate in a variety of models, frameworks and organizational structures. It will allow organizations to find the right organization model to fit the situation and environment it operates in.
As Laloux states on his website (https://www.reinventingorganizations.com), his book “explains how every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness, it has also invented a radically more productive organization model.
Don’t try to fix the old system
Many organization leaders, academics and consultants are seeking ways to transform the organization to face the challenges of today. The challenges of the VUCA world. The need to create organizations that are more agile, resilient, adoptive and creative. Their efforts repeatedly fall short, because they are trying to fix the existing worldview.
You cannot teach calculus to someone who hasn’t learned algebra. Trying to bring new solutions to a worldview that is not evolved enough to adopt the principles will continuously fail. We repeatedly hear of how Lean implementations or Agile implementations fail to achieve their objectives. I continually hear “we have implemented Lean/Agile, but we can’t seem to get people to adopt the core principles and establish a Lean/Agile mindset.”
Over the last three decades we have created tools/methodologies that should have improved the success of execution. Yet the statistics say we fail at a consistent rate of 70%. The Living Organization® Framework is not a new set of tools/methodologies: it enhances the existing tools to allow them to guide the organization to a new level of consciousness.
You cannot achieve the attributes, values and behaviors of Teal if you are operating from a Context of Orange or even Green. To move up to Teal we must first shift our view of an organization to recognize it as a living being. Machines do not evolve, living systems evolve. And, of all living systems only living beings can consciously choose its evolutionary Context.