Emerging into Teal through Working Out Loud

Susan Basterfield
Mar 9, 2016 · 5 min read
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Part 1: Self Management

I co-convene TealNZ, a meetup community of over 180 kiwis who are exploring the work of Reinventing Organizations and what it means to be ‘teal’.

It’s easy to get enthusiastic about new ways of working — stories and examples of companies who are self-managing, encourage everyone to bring all of who they are to work, and acknowledge their purpose as evolutionary are inspiring and compelling.

Reality is, there aren’t many, and we need to create the conditions for them to emerge. This is not going to happen quickly.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t practice what it could be like.

How often have you been challenged to put theory into practice? For individuals with a growth mindset, it happens all the time. We are attracted to new shiny things — especially ideas that seem to magically articulate and coalesce concepts that bump around in our heads.

Last year, two books transformed me. One, a theoretical model — Reinventing Organizations and the other, a handbook for practice, Working Out Loud. I dove headlong into both, not immediately sensing how connected they were.

Eventually, it hit me — Working out Loud is a practice that incorporates each of the teal breakthroughs — Self-Management, Wholeness and Evolutionary Purpose.

Over the next 4 weeks, I will exploring these connections, beginning with Self-Management.

Reinventing Organizations

In Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux moots three breakthroughs of the historical/evolutionary stage called Teal: Self-Management, Wholeness and Evolutionary Purpose.

The work of Frederic Laloux found me through a random coffee meeting — a prescient chat between two strangers. I got home googled, downloaded, and my life was changed. I wrote about the impact the work had on my life here.

Working Out Loud

Working Out Loud, by John Stepper, is a guidebook that codifies and scaffolds a practice of peer-mentoring. It’s a practice.

For most individuals in Working Out Loud circles today, the opportunity was brought to them by their organization as an HR or Learning and Development initiative. Leading multi-nationals are embracing peer group circles (and Working Out Loud specifically) and mentoring as one of the best ways to encourage trust and support proactive personal development while breaking down silos. Working out Loud circles in firms become the Hx (Human interface) of the ESN (Enterprise Social Network).

In my transition from senior leadership in multi-nationals to freelancer, I encountered many things I didn’t anticipate. The most glaring and difficult for me was not having a team around me. (more context here) I sought a group of like-minded randoms who could hold me to account.

I live in New Zealand. I can see half of you reading this brighten — “oh New Zealand! Sooooo beautiful — how lucky is she!” and the other half “New Zealand? oh that crazy place John Oliver is always making fun of!”

I stumbled upon the John Stepper’s blog during an ordinary internet adventure, and ordered the book. Lo and behold, one of the case studies was about a woman named Mara, who lives in NZ! I immediately stalked her and we met for coffee.

Mara and I hit it off straight away, and she told me that a couple of others had been in touch with her — randoms — and that there was a possibility of starting the first Working Out Loud circle in New Zealand. Was I in? This was a perfect example of a ‘Hell Yeah’ . We had our first #NZ_WOL circle a few weeks later.

So who are we? Mara developed the Collaboration Centre of Excellence for a finance multinational. Nick is head of digital for NZ’s largest real estate company, Nigel is head of Quality, Teaching and Learning at a tertiary institute and runs his own consultancy. And then there is me — corporate escapee trying to make my way in the big bad world of freelancing.

Would we have naturally attracted one another at a party or even in an ordinary workplace? Maybe. But regardless of how we came together, we were together. From the very start, there was an unspoken bond because we had chosen to come together, to give this thing a go. To respect and trust, to be willing to be vulnerable and ask for help. I’ve written on vulnerability; when you have the opportunity to really experience it, and be held in it, it’s transformative.

There are many versions of Working Out Loud — from Austin Kleon’s ‘Show your Work’ to Harold Jarche and others. It’s one thing to be able to put your work into the world, it’s quite another to know that you have at least 3 other people that are watching and supporting and not judging — simply holding you up to be your best self. The practice is about supporting one another to reach a personal or professional goal. There are comprehensive weekly run sheets to support the practice.

Working Out Loud and Self-Management also supports ‘showing your work’ . Scrum boards or a Kanban or other artifacts of transparency are now de rigeur in software development envoronments. I like that phrase: artifact of transparency.

The beauty is in the trust and connection and the intention. It’s all about intention — the intention to be responsible for your own development, and accountable to yourself and others to create that magical social commitment.

Next week will explore how Working Out Loud provides opportunities to express wholeness in the workplace.

If you are interested in learning more, or joining a circle, email me

Enspiral Tales

Stories from a bold experiment - creating a collaborative…

Susan Basterfield

Written by

Catalyst and Convenor. Experiments in new ways of working and being for everyone. Up for work that matters with people who care.

Enspiral Tales

Stories from a bold experiment - creating a collaborative network that helps people do meaningful work.

Susan Basterfield

Written by

Catalyst and Convenor. Experiments in new ways of working and being for everyone. Up for work that matters with people who care.

Enspiral Tales

Stories from a bold experiment - creating a collaborative network that helps people do meaningful work.

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