Resolving the awkward paradox in Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organisations
Tom Nixon
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I am very inspired by Laloux’s book, and I have a couple of comments to this so called “paradox”. I don’t think it is a paradox: It is just an observation, that apparently an organisation like this needs at least one person, who can hold this different space, and that in the examples given in the book this person happens to be the CEO or founder. It is not surprising; but maybe also not necessary.

I would like to expand the possibilities in two ways: Maybe it can be another person, if this person is in a role, where the spaceholding is crucial and reliably present. Maybe the spaceholding can be done by structures in the organisation, if we could just know what it takes to make them. I think we can.

Frederic himself mentions the spiritual approach in his comment, and I would like to recall, that the spaceholding can have the form of a commitment to do certain things in a certain way — “in the spirit of someone or something”.

So what are the things that must be done — in what way exactly?

I think Frederic’s book actually indicates exactly what it is, even though it doesn’t spell it out like the 3 “wholeness, selfmanagement and evolutionary purpose”. I believe I noticed 2 other things all Frederic’s examples had in common, and I believe they are even more important:

The advice decision making process and mandatory conflict resolution of some kind.

I believe the most important tasks for a traditional leadership is to make sure, that conflicts are settled so they don’t damage the cohesion of the organisation. The leaders must make sure it happens or they will witness the organisation fall apart.

In an organisation that aspires to become leaderless, everybody must be reliably able and willing to face whatever part they have in conflicts and participate in settling them.

The ability and commitment to unite opposites on a social level corresponds to the same most important part of personal development and maturity.

An organisation can build structures and roles that offer this expertise and it can have policies, that requires everybody to make use of them when relevant. The general belief that conflict resolution is possible and within personal and organisational reach and a reliable system for it, is the core of organisation. It is actually, per definition the solution to any paradox — including this one.

I have tried to connect to Frederic about this theory, but unfortunately he has not yet answered. I would really appreciate if you/he will do it one day.

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